Updated: Aug 31
Music has always played a massive role in shaping my life. It has defined my earliest memories, intensified my emotions, and provided solace during moments of anxiety. More than that, it brings me into the present moment. There's an undeniable magic in a beat or rhythm that captures your senses, and lyrics that resonate can plunge you into a deeper understanding of reality and self-reflection.
My train of thought was set in motion while I was listening to "Hi Ren - By Ren." This powerful song delves into the internal struggle many of us grapple with – our personal doubts alongside the Good & Bad angels perched on our shoulders. It deals with wanting to silence the skeptical voices within and charging forward to confront challenges head-on. This deep and thought-provoking song has resonated with me, often on repeat, and its impact is heightened by its accompanying music video. I urge you to check it out.
This song prompted me to embark on a personal journey of self-reflection. It began by addressing my struggles with limiting beliefs, toxic self-talk, and conflicting emotions about my strength, pride, and self-confidence. None of us are immune to these internal battles, and I have realized that I've become quite adept at concealing them. Additionally, I'm incredibly fortunate to have an unwavering support network, particularly my wife. She encourages me to confront my thoughts head-on and provides the space to voice my doubts and limits. Not everyone has this luxury, but as a certified Life Coach, I can step into that role for you. It's both a passion and an honor to witness individuals conquer their doubts and pursue their dreams.
The reflective journey also led me to marvel at how music has the power to spark quests within us. This exploration ignited memories of where my love for music began and how it has evolved over time. My family home was always resonating with melodies, giving me my first taste of the eclectic fusion of sounds and vocals that characterized Rock and Roll. Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and The Commitments were the soundtrack to my childhood. I can vividly remember bouncing on a trampoline one Christmas while listening to "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, or belting out "Mustang Sally" from The Commitments while still in diapers. The list of memories continues to grow.
My musical tastes truly flourished during my late pre-teen and teen years, influenced by the people and cultures surrounding me. Growing up as close friends and practically family with a Samoan household exposed me to a different musical universe – RnB, Rap, and Hip Hop. It's astonishing how these genres have played a significant role in shaping my life's journey, even leading me through various challenges.
Reflecting on my past, I recognize the contrast between my background in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood and my integration into a Samoan family. I was affectionately given a Samoan name, Siake, and fully embraced their way of life. This experience introduced me to new genres and perspectives, while it also highlighted society's tendency to label those who defy norms. My taste in music was met with skepticism and disdain, even leading to bullying, as I ventured into genres that were "different." These incidents still linger, influencing my responses to comments like "What’s that shit?" or "That's not music." The irony lies in the fact that these genres are now among the most popular.
Today, I ponder the reasons behind the conflicting ideologies prevalent in our society. We're encouraged to embrace our emotions, yet simultaneously advised to "harden up." It's essential to normalize expressing our thoughts without fear of judgment. We must champion artistic, mental, and emotional expressions without limitations, creating a world where individuality is celebrated.
Recently, a comment about my music choice triggered a deep-seated emotional response. This reaction forced me to confront memories of being ostracized in my youth. The message of being "free" but with limits resonated, fueling a sense of anger toward a society that once confined my expressions. Artists like J Cole, whether loved or loathed, embody the essence of storytelling, much like Ren.
Before critiquing another's artistic expression, whether it's music or any other form, let's consider the potential harm our words might cause. While I am fortunate to have found solace in diverse music, I urge us all to recognize that constant criticism can cause self-doubt and hinder personal growth.
Our uniqueness is a gift, and music is a remarkable avenue for self-expression that transcends genres. Art holds immeasurable power, and it's important to respect differing interpretations. Let's replace negativity with encouragement, fostering an environment where diversity thrives without boundaries.
Remember: YOU ARE AMAZING, SO BE YOU. 🎵🎶