As a teenager I remember seeing someone I had grown up with in a music video. I remember being mesmerized and must have watched it one hundred times (seriously). I was so geeked about seeing this person I knew and admired, I immediately thought to reach out to him and congratulate him on what I thought to be a great success.
I've always had dreams of becoming a performer, acting in particular and so I also sought advice from him. I expressed my past endeavors and desire and inquired how to get started. Their response was very matter of fact, they simply stated that I was fat. I should stop drinking 3 liter family size sodas and eating chocolate and potatoe chips in my sleep, lololololol.
I've never expressed this to them so they are unaware of how that seemingly innocent statement (maybe from his point of view) absolutely crushed me. What they didn't know is that I already had major insecurities as I was struggling with severe acne and it was the bane of my superficially vain existence as well as other issues.
The expectation I had of him was to be embracing and provide me with the information instead of hi-lighting what at the time was so very obvious.
I understand now that he didn't have it all figured out and therefore couldn't offer any constructive words of wisdom or encouragement as he was just starting his career and probably needed the same thing that I was seeking from him. I equate it to being hungry and asking someone else to hold the fork when you know your hands work.
I initially internalized it as "I'm just not good enough and will never be" and even if I had stopped eating chocolate and chips, there would have been some other reason to say no. Having been told that so many times in my life I kind of just filed it away with the others.
I've watched dreams turn into reality but I've also seen dreams unfulfilled, I've come to believe it's important to decide what side of the coin you want to be on.
I've learned that you don't have to stay committed to your circumstances and that you don't have to emulate or compete with the next person to reach your idea of success or in some cases, wholeness in order to have fulfillment.
Make no mistake, you will have to do the work but the phrase "what is for you will be for you" is absolutely true. Metaphorically speaking, you may have to meet the dragon halfway or go all the way to where it rests but if you are committed to that, it will engulf you in its smoke, ash and flame to reveal the phoenix within.
The thing I would tell my teenage self is this:
You may not always be aware of it but there will be people who genuinely root for you. This statement is important as is this, you will also sometimes find that you have to be your own cheerleader, not because those you look to for support refuse to give it but because people and the world don't revolve around you and your needs. It is a reciprocal thing and you may be asked to be of support or comfort to someone else more often than not and you can only do that if you are well, if you take care of your needs without the expectations of others.
You will grow up in an age wherein information is readily available, utilize it.
Don't allow your fears to deter you from your goals. Everything is not personal even when it appears as such.
Know that your talents can really only be validated by you, you have to believe you are what you say you are. No! It won't always be easy but it will be worth it. When writing your story don't let someone else hold the pen. Cliche maybe, but no less true.
Understand that each step of the way you are good enough and the steps you are taking may be misunderstood but they're yours. Finger pointing is beneath you and won't be beneficial (You won't always get that right either).
Understand that those dreams you had/have is your mind telling you that it's already written.
Laugh heartily , love deeply, sing loudly, dance willfully, write poetically, breathe and breathe some more. It's your life and if this is the only one we get, enjoy it.
You have been loved, you are loved and you do love. It may show itself differently from time to time but it is real and it remains.
I'm here for you always,
Note: Briian's design work has been featured in Japanese Vogue, The Source Magazine, TimeOut New York, Urban Lux Magazine, Clik Magazine, Spanglish Magazine, BRM Magazine and a host of other publications and blogs. He has also completed work as an actor in his first Independent Feature Film entitled "The Raging Boom".