So, I’m wrapping up this rant that I’ve been on for the last two posts. I’ve been on this tip of not comparing yourself to other people as a way of measuring your own success. My emphasis has been on the fact that we all lead lives that are so different that the pressure we put on ourselves to be like other people is borderline insanity. This is especially true when talking about lifestyle and career. I’ve realized that it may help if I explained how it is that I arrived as this way of thinking. Allow me to re-introduce myself…
When I finished high school both my parents weren’t working. So I chilled ekasie for about a year, except for a short stint at some fly-by-night college that disappeared. I managed to hook a bursary to study graphic design. Most of the time, we are led to believe that if you can get into tertiary you are basically made. I could not have been more wrong. You must check drop out rates at varsities.
To start off with, studying design is expensive. The day to day costs of getting projects done will make you regret doing this in the first place. Let me put this way, on a weekly basis you spend about R100 on projects. Not much? Try doing that when all you get a month from your parents is R300. Did I mention you have to buy monthly groceries from this too? Do you know what you get for R150 worth of groceries? Let me tell you, you get a couple packs of Morvite, 5kg Ace Maize meal, a 6 pack of milk, a box of weetbix and 1lt Wild Island mixer juice. Strawberry.
Then graphic design is kicking your ass. I failed first semester. I was terrible. I had the one of the lowest marks in class at that time. I had a breakdown. I realized that the only way to get through this, I was going to have to break away from the ‘normal’ life of varsity life that I was told I had to live. I got rid of my social life, I eventually stopped watching tv. I was at school from 8am till 10pm so that I could maximize my time in the computer lab. This one white dude who was a second year noticed that I was always in the lab. He struck a deal with me that if I help him mount his work, he’d give me his project briefs and he’ll mark them. This meant that during the day I was a 1st year and at night I was a 2nd year. I was doing twice as much work as anyone. When I got home after 10pm I would start conceptualizing the 2nd year work. It was during this time that I developed this weird habit of getting by with just 3-4hrs of sleep. I didn’t help I barely had no food to eat. You are sitting in a cafeteria with class mates and they are all manner of delicious food, meanwhile your broke ass has not eaten in two days, “would you like a bite Vus?”, “Nah, I’m full”. I’m holding on to my last 10 bucks to print shit. I wasn’t trying to pass better, I was trying not to fail. Soon I realized that the more I worked, the better I got. One of my worst subjects was photography. Man I stunk. But I applied the same thinking.
In 2007 a young boy from some small hood found himself on tv, winning shit. After winning The Cut, I still found it hard to break out of my survival mentality. Very soon after it ended, I discarded it in my mind. It never registered as a success. The win didn’t make up for the struggles I had been through.
A few years ago I arrived at a braai. I was introduced to some guy and the first question out of his mouth is, “so what car do you drive?”, “ummm…a Polo”. I watched his shoulders drop and his interest in whatever I had to say after that disappear. In my mind I was like, after everything I had been through to get to where I was then, my value can be eradicated by driving the wrong car, according to someone I don’t even know?
Let me tell you what I know for a fact, YOU determine YOUR value. YOU decide what is should be based on. Kendrick Lamar has NEVER been judged on how much money he has. He made sure that you will judge him ONLY on his skill as a rapper. HE put himself on this pedestal. If Kendrick Lamar lost all the millions he has made, he will still be Kendrick Lamar one of the dopest lyricists of our time.
YOU determine YOUR value. If you were a product or a company how would you evaluate your worth? I learnt this when I had a conversation with Jeff Rikhotso. We were talking about how to land jobs as a freelance creative. He said that, “it’s not necessarily the best person who get the job”. Meaning, the person who get the job is the person who made it happen. You are a musician watching artists haul awards and stuff and you asking, “are they that much better than me?” The answer is probably not. There are 1000’s of rappers in the country, is Khuli Chana the best of all of them? Probably not. Maybe Kruked The WarMonger is. But where is Kruked?
DO NOT be afraid of your value. No one is going to give it to you on a silver platter. No one will ever value you more than you value yourself. We beef with Kanye West because he refuses for our opinions of him get him down. He tells us he is valuable and he won’t accept our, “yeah, but…”. Tbo Touch from Metro fm is a classic example of it doesn’t matter what they say. It doesn’t matter who giggles or who laughs when you open your mouth. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is your objective.
People will never know what it takes for you to be YOU.
I repeat. God’s sun shines on us all. Stop chasing other people’s shadows. All you have is YOU and NOW. From this point on, everything is a choice that YOU make.
Thank you to everyone who’s ever taken time to read. I highly appreciate it.