For a change of scenery, once a week, I used to write at my local Starbucks. When I pulled into the parking lot, the patrons-stay-at-home moms, au pairs, and retirees in a white, upper-class neighborhood-were greeted to the loud, gangsta rap from my jeep. I got a kick out of their reaction when I made a ridiculous order: a venti pumpkin spice macchiato with half a pump of liquid sugar, oat milk, and “put some chai in it.” The baristas were people of color and seemed amused; they knew it was to poke fun at their customers. With my complex concoction in tow, I relegated myself into a corner of the establishment and wrote about parenting for two hours.
I made a whole playlist for the occasion. Songs such as “Gangbangin’ 101” by Game and Snoop Dogg, “Crip Hop” by Tha Eastsidaz, Mitchy Slick’s “Won’t Stop Being a Blood” became a soundtrack to my rebel-rousing.
Almost every time I left Starbucks, I peeled out of the lot to “Twist My Fingaz” by YG. I can’t and don’t identify with the lyrics at all. However, I related to YG and his message of assertiveness. No matter who wants to judge, what they have to say, when and where there may be objection, why or how one condemns, Keenon Dequan Ray Jackson will be his unabashed self. Unshakable conviction is power.
“Your words aren’t cheap” my friend Cliff said at the end of our phone conversation last week . I felt validated by his words of affirmation. I had been in a funk for a few days. For over two years, I put my all into my docu-series about fatherhood and received minimal support. The letdown played into my insecurities and triggered self-doubt.
I don’t take others’ actions to heart often. How and what others say, do, and feel is a reflection or projection of their unique combination of life experiences. Before I started my therapy journey, I conditioned myself to say not take others’ words and actions to heart.
Without routine reassessment, my default became a defense mechanism. Newton’s third law of physics-for every action force, there is an equal and opposite reaction force-holds true for our feelings. They are a source of energy and therefore, an action force. If I shrug how I feel off, I have absorbed the force. They will resurface, often in a negative capacity, as self-doubt and a reinforcement of my own insecurities I will project onto someone else. Of course, I will need a crutch if I had a chip on my shoulder.
I cannot and should not expect others to regard to my feelings if I have disregarded theirs. The perpetual cycle continues and becomes a prophecy I have self-fulfilled. Now, I take the time to assess how I feel before I decide to not take an action personal.
Cliff’s energetic force through his words reminded me of who I am. My words are not cheap because I am intentional with the things I say and do. I don’t mince them because I have put in a lot of time and effort in how I use them. What you get from me comes at a high price point because of the cost of labor and meticulous care.
I learned a lot about self-worth when I sold Volkswagens in upper-class Alpharetta, GA. Our dealership also sold Bentleys because it is a high-end subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, the largest car manufacturer in the world. I observed athletes, celebrities, musicians, and many unrecognizable figures walk into the same door as the customers who were there for Passats. After a couple of hours, a test drive, and negotiation, they drove off with a smile because they purchased a vehicle with the equivalent cost of a house.
Nobody who walked into the only Bentley dealership within 1000 miles because they saw commercial; they have sold themselves to their targeted market since 1919. Their product isn’t cheap, and they’ve owned it: their low-end, “affordable” model costs $202k without the sexy fix-ins.
In 2009, Bentleys had 37 computers in their car. Therefore, every two days, an owner must let the car run for a designated amount of time, or their car battery would drain. They are high maintenance, and this also comes with a hefty price tag. If my words and content aren’t cheap, neither are my feelings; they require just as much maintenance as the products and services I sell. If not, my battery drains and once again, I will feel how I did before Cliff gave me some food for thought.
In other words, in order to uphold to Sir Issac Newton’s third law of physics: Just do my dance, and cuff my pants, and twist my fingaz with my hands.