And, that's where the problem begins.
It's graduation season, and many of the young ladies and men I mentor in my theater group have crossed the stage over the weekend, most on the same day. There are also some outside of the group who were handed their diploma and are looking forward to higher education (and dorm parties) come August. I'm proud of each and every one of them, and when I get time I've told most of them I'd take them out as a token of congratulations from me. From the beginning of prom season up until now, I've been getting invited to "see-offs", graduations, graduation parties and more. With my hectic schedule, it's hard to keep up with them all, but I sincerely do my best. All of this has got me to thinking...
...what is it about me makes the youth draw to me the way they do?
I can recall sitting in a rehearsal one day; and the group was going around to each person in our circle individually to tell that person what they like most about them, and something they think that person can work on. When it was my turn, I was moved to tears. To hear so many young women and men call me their role model really made me glad to know that I'm being a positive influence. What really got to me was one of the young poets in the group (who is also a blogger) said something to me that I can't remember word for word, but it went something like this:
"You have so many people who look up to you, I'm afraid I'll become a follower ...there are always people coming up to you; asking for advice, I don't know where'd I fit in..."
To this day, what she said still holds weight to me, and I hope she's reading because I never told her
that. The crazy thing is, if these children only knew that sometimes I find myself looking up to THEM, they'd probably laugh at me! The generation behind me is sometimes a scary one, but they are so filled with creativity and genius that it gives me chills. I wish I was as brave and outspoken as a child like the youth that I know. I admire them as much as they admire me, if not more. What they don't know about is the pressure I feel I'm under sometimes trying to stay in a positive light for them. It's hard to please everybody, but I think it's even harder to maintain an image for people who look up to you, and if these children knew a piece of my life outside of Nu World, poetry, blogs and drumming they may not like me anymore. LOL, seriously; I'm not perfect, but to some I must shit rainbows.
As I get older, I meet new groups of children and acquire more brothers and sisters. I recently worked at a rites of passage program for young men, grades 6-8. They hated my guts in the beginning because I disciplined them with pushups and six inches, but by the end of the program I've gotten more hugs and smiles than mean mugs. I've become attached to some of the high schoolers who come into my job everyday, and I even overheard one of them describing me to his friends as his "big sister and confidante". In the cultural community I'm in, women with young daughters come up to me and ask if I would be willing to give drum lessons to their aspiring musicians in diapers. There's even a young woman that I've known all of her life who has recently become a little sister to me. She comes to me with any and every issue she has, and I'm always more than willing to listen and offer advice when needed. I'm really glad to see her following her dreams, and she's becoming a music junkie like myself. We're still working on that last part. =)
So; Cortney W, Zakirah, Akilah, Nia and Cortney: I'm proud of all of you. You five stay on the path you're on, you're headed in the right directions. Congrats on graduating and making the next step to college. I can never say I only have 2 sisters, because it's obvious I've adopted you all as my own. I love you! Congratulations to all the graduates, really. And to anyone who's ever walked up to me and called me their role model, I'm doing my best for you so you can do your best for the people who are beginning to look up to you.