Making the once known known again.
When I was 20 years old I was desperately in search of my identity. I had spent the majority of my life up to that point being a follower. I just wanted to be cool and fit in. I would downplay certain aspects of my personality and even forego things I was interested in because they weren’t “typical.” When I turned 20 I knew that it was time to stop being a follower and start being myself. The problem was that I had no idea who “myself” was. Like I mentioned in last week’s excavation, all I knew for certain was that I was a free spirit with no desire to answer to any man. In my eyes at that time there was no freer spirit than the one belonging to Lenny Kravitz.
Lenny really embodied freedom for me. He dressed how he wanted, wrote and sang the kind of music he wanted, and did it while preaching a message of love and unity for all. I was sold. Man-crush established. In my quest to be Kravitz-esque I put some muscle on my wiry frame, grew a curly afro and got my ears and eyebrow pierced. In 2001 if you told me I wasn’t Lenny Kravitz, I would have rebuked you in the name of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, I didn’t remain a Lenny imitator for long. Using his persona as a starting point, I came to understand who I was and which parts of myself I needed to show the world. Instead of running from it, I began to embrace my identity as a unique guy who could not be put into a box.
A song I played a lot during this period of searching was “(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick. It was written by Andre’ and Dory Previn for the 1967 film “Valley of the Dolls.” The movie deals with trying to find one’s place in the world and the song tackles the same theme. With lyrics such as “Gotta get off, gonna get off of this merry go round/Gotta get off, gonna get, need to get on where I’m bound,” the writers paint a picture of this identity struggle a lot of us go through. The song was produced by Burt Bacharach and became one of the biggest hits of Warwick’s career, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I was talking to a friend the other day about being stuck in a rut and not being who he was intended to be. I was immediately reminded of this song and played it for him. While listening I thought of at least 10 people who are going through similar identity issues. I chose to excavate it this week because I thought maybe one of you needed to hear it as well. We all have a purpose and even though I know what mine is, I still need to be reminded at times.
How about you? When/how did you come to realize your identity? Are you still searching? Do you have times when you forget who you are and need to be reminded? Where do the reminders come from? Tell me your thoughts.
*Thank you all so much for making my vision of PopExcavators a reality. This is only our fifth article and I’ve already seen so much fruit from these efforts. Special thanks to Mark Champion and Nicole Yancey for all they’ve done to bring this dream into fruition. If you have a dream go after it now. Someday never comes…..*
See you next Monday!