Consciousness » Forgiveness
°A person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment must accept that they were indeed the victim. You are not to blame for what has happened to you, but you must forgive. You must forgive yourself; accept, express and let it go, grant yourself the ability to experience life without judgement.°
‘If you met me three years ago, you’d hate me.’ This somehow became my go-to phrase for several years. I became aware of my ‘growth’ while in university, but never was I able to detail how that came to be; so, I’d usually follow the phrase by listing things I did three years prior. Like anyone gave a shit. Though what I almost never mention is why I did those things, and well, it’s simply because I didn’t know why. Nonetheless, ‘growth’ occurred and fortunately, in the most brutal fashion: University. I was finally diagnosed with depression and anxiety, suffered several intense panic attacks and fluctuated in weight due to an addiction. I didn’t think I’d experience and be diagnosed with several of what seemed to be fancy scientific jargon, nor did I think I’d have to figure out why, on my own.
Curiosity » Yes, let’s
°My half-sister has three boys, and I swear to God them man are on steroids. See, I pride myself on being somewhat healthy, but for some reason, I’m never able to keep up with the little fuckers. I can work out for hours, run up and down a stage for hours, anything, all without it feeling like the seventh round against Andy Ruiz Jr. But, I’m almost always fatigued by the time I head home; that’s exactly why I love them. They’re relentless, they want to know everything, they want to try everything, they want everything. One minute, I’m being bombarded with hints and questions about my phone, strength, and the hole(s) in my sock. The next, I’m a human punching bag that also can be a nerf target – thought arises, action follows. It is always refreshing to bear witness to their behaviour, to be reminded of what true innocence is, and the reward that comes with it.°
This is an excerpt from my diagnostic assessment report, by a chartered psychologist in 2015: ‘A free writing exercise from DASH 17+ was administered. This test provides a reliable measure of handwriting speed for students 17-25 years…and identifies students with slow handwriting speeds. On this task, Lawrence wrote at a rate of 22 words per minute; this yields a standard score of 8 which is measured in the average range, Lawrence wrote a piece about taking part in a national drama festival. This was an interesting piece that developed well and was informative. One spelling error was noted within his work which involved the mis-sequencing of letters within a word (‘olny for ‘only’) as were several crossings out.’
The first time I read this report was this year, 2019, when I randomly thought to myself, ‘oh shit, yeah, I’m dyslexic. Let me see what these man said about me.’ And, I’m glad I decided to only read it now because what I read would have been interpreted, in all the worst ways, by the anxious, depressed adult I once was. When I read this excerpt, it reminded me of the 2:1 I received in a final year module, which required me to adapt a short story into a play. I was shocked with the grade and feedback, considering I didn’t adapt shit. It was simply a play, written under duress, that was loosely based on the relationship between my mother’s sperm donor and me. I don’t recall the thinking behind my decisions but, I was praised for writing something personal, something I wanted to express.
Courage » You’re not fine, and that’s ok
°Your feelings matter, and no amount of logic will prevent the discomfort. So, are your shared beliefs – what has formed your identity – are they expressions formed by how you feel or how you should be?°
Experience tells me that it’s rather impossible to do the ‘right’ thing. You see, I remember having a panic attack during my graduation meal, and during the attack, I seemed to have no control over my thoughts and actions. Preceding the attack was my graduation, and all throughout I was thinking to myself, ‘why the fuck am I here?’ I didn’t want to attend my graduation because I hadn’t yet grasped the purpose of those three years; everyone at the table, bar Ronique’s parents, were made aware of that. So, as I was pacing up and down, trying to calm myself, I notice a shift in posture and expression from everyone at the table, and, well, that only made things worse. I began to think to myself…fuck, fuck, fuck! I could feel the eyes of every diner, and so I excused myself from our table, not once, not twice, but lord knows how many fucking times. Each time I did my best to convince them, I think, that I was fine. And, having excused myself numerous times, I just gave up and left the restaurant. Now, I’m sure that’s all everyone will remember from that day. I stole the show, and I did it without a fucking clue of what I was doing. Improv skill rating: 9.5/10.
Confidence » Double platinum with no features
°Someone, I know recently asked if I feel odd, out of place, when I’m in a room full of white people, and my response began with ‘I feel sexy.’ Of course, that had nothing to do with my response, but I knew I’d enjoy the confusion on his face. After I had my laugh, I gave this response, well, something along this line, “When I’m in predominately white or ‘educated’ room, there’s never a sense that I do not belong, why? Because I’m in the room.”°
There was no ‘growth,’ there was understanding. And, I understand that I must accept that my reality was nothing but a suppressed truth, that was visible to millions who empathise. I understand that I must rid myself of the shame and guilt of being born into an emotionally and financially unstable family. That I am not to blame for being abused and neglected. And, to lead a peaceful life, I must accept, express and let it go, grant myself the ability to experience life without judgement. The judgement of my past, my present and my future. I’m good where I am because I continue to learn, and I’m doing what the fuck I want. So, how am I able to detail how the past five years have shaped the being I am today? Well, nearing the end of October 2018, I decided to quit my tedious part-time job at the cinema. I’d just finished a shift, made my way to the exit and suddenly thought to myself ‘fuck it, I quit.’ I didn’t question the thought, and I’m glad I went through with it. During the ongoing experience, I began to own and practice my four C’s: Consciousness, Curiosity, Courage and then Confidence.
Right, so, at the start of October, I was filling out an application for a script program. And, as I was about to send off the application, I decided to check for the closing date, and um, well, bummer. The deadline had passed, by two weeks. I sat in the library chuckling to myself as I stared at an application I took pride in, a filled email tab, and no attachments. I could have closed the tab, but I thought why not send it anyway; so, I made amends to the email by adding, ‘Once I completed the application I realised the submission date had passed, but I thought why not submit anyway. Apologies if this causes any inconvenience.’ The very next day, I receive an email for an interview and sometime after the interview, I was notified and assigned to a play written by an award-winning playwright. The program did not start till November, so I had a month to bask in the possibilities of such a program, and of course, how it all came to be. Life felt like someone was blowing soft kisses at my gooch; shit felt so good it began to overwhelm the reality that I’m still an employee at the cinema.
During the weeks that followed the gooch tickling emails, I began to apply for other part-time retail jobs because I felt I needed to limit the time spent working at the cinema. So, I changed my availability to weekends only because I was certain I’d secure another part-time role, to which I did. The store I applied to wasn’t opening till December, it would be sixteen hours a week over three days, I believe, which was perfect. I’d be working weekdays, cinema on the weekends and in between that, I’ll be applying the skills learnt from the program. It’s mid-October and I could not have planned this any better. Then came the end of another Sunday shift at the cinema, a few days away from starting my script program, I stop and think to myself ‘fuck it, I quit.’ I certainly do miss the experience, the perks and individuals that made it the circus show it was. Great times with good people, but that did not stop me from going through with the sudden urge to quit, and I did so with the knowledge of two paid opportunities on its way. Well, at the time I thought it’d be two.
It’s January and I’m unemployed. I have finished the script program, but I am unable to work due to a passport issue. Luckily for me, I’m able to live off funds from the script program, and I’d just been accepted onto a year-long theatre program. February comes by and I’ve been invited in for another part-time job; this interview is what I’d like to call the turning point of my unemployed experience. During the interview, the area manager asked how many interviews I’d been in, ‘like five,’ I respond, to which he then replies, something along the lines of, ‘your resume is terrible, but you know how to manage yourself in an interview.’ Oh. It certainly threw me off since the interview had been flowing, but he was right, my resume was shit. We both agreed on how dull and generic it read yet, in person, I’m the complete opposite. After the interview, I sent my resume to a friend of mine who repeated most of his statements, but he didn’t stop there. That evening, my friend and I spoke on how I fail to sell myself on my resume…which is the whole fucking point of a resume.
During this period of unemployment, especially from February onwards, I certainly questioned the rash decision to quit my regular source of income. There are days where I’ll struggle to fill my day with meaning. I’ll stay up till six in the morning, either playing video games or watching the NBA. I’ll skip the gym because I’m not motivated enough to leave my room. I’ll crave five to six meals a day because I found comfort in food. I’ll leave my room untidy for three days straight, and I’ll smoke every other day even though I know they’re all detrimental to my health. But, not once do I judge myself for it. I am unemployed, and I have every reason to be depressed and anxious about my situation. I’ve had to raise over a thousand pounds to sort out my passport, work cash in hand job to pay my bills, all while going in and out of interview after interview. I welcome each day because I refuse to play the victim who’s obsessed with what he can’t control, his desires, rather than what is already thriving.
I’m willing to welcome each day as its own because of the faith in my ability to accept and be curious about what is. Unlike my nephews, I do not have the luxury of wanting to try everything, but I’m relentless in my pursuit of what I know works for me. Despite how depressing this period has been, I’ve not allowed myself to wallow in self-pity because of factors in my life that make it worth living. I continue to read because I understand the benefits of it. I continue to express myself through writing because of the weight it takes off my shoulders. I take on ‘twenty-four-hour theatre challenges’ because of the boost in energy it provides. I speak with Ronique every other, spend time with friends, workout, and take time out to play football with youths in the cage, all because of the peace it provides.
Through curiosity, I found the willingness to practice a set of habits I knew improved my wellbeing. From simply tidying my room as soon as I’m up, to being vulnerable enough to admit how daunting a situation is. And, through acceptance and then the expression of what is, I realise and can pursue a worthwhile career other than acting and writing. I knew I couldn’t yet fully commit to those ventures, but I had six months of volunteering experience as a behavioural mentor. I was curious about the experience because I live the life of someone who was in desperate need of mentorship. Maybe if I had someone who understood and guided me through my childhood traumas, I wouldn’t have made the mistakes I made. Well, now I’m unemployed, in need of a career path, why not use that experience to kickstart a career? I certainly wouldn’t have planned for it to happen the way it did, but if I hadn’t quit my job that day, I would not be where I am.
Disciplined madness is the acceptance that I’ll never know it all. Eight months ago, I would not have imaged myself in this position, let alone find comfort in the chaos. I will never know it all but that isn’t to say I mustn’t go after the things I want. The past five years have given me the tools to be confident in my beliefs, my identity because I understand that I have control over one thing, and that is myself. I accept what is, be curious about what isn’t, and be willing to pursue the things I want. Because, five years ago, I did not think I’d be in a four-year relationship, nor have this perception of life. So, what’re eight months to Jigga who has experienced some real fucked up shit?