“Dear Millennials: Youth is Fleeting. Stupid is Forever.”
– Oliver Markus Malloy, Inside the Mind of an Introvert
You Know How to Love Me
by Phyllis Hyman
Seesaw is Not the Game for Self- Esteem
by Kendall F. Person
Advice for the Ys & Zs. A message to the Xs and Boomers.
I write about her often, no doubt it’s because she was of my favorite performers, and one of only two, that I attended a concert, before their untimely demise. Teena Marie died of natural causes, and after 20 year of sold out tickets and cancelled shows, at last live at Arco Arena. I did not appreciate Bob Marley’s brilliance until well after he was gone. Tupac’s death reminded so much of my younger brother, it is difficult to conjure up those spirits much. But more importantly than personal emotion, what makes her life germaine to this post, was a lifetime of low self esteem, that caused the magnificent Phyllis Hyman’s mind to crack, yet the world outside her head, hailed her in the highest esteem.
Our emotions exist in varying degrees. But unlike hope, which cannot be stolen, stripped or beaten out of us; and with amends, the otherwise ruthless nature of regret, can keep the conscious from devouring us whole. Even the brutality of addiction and depression, once we learn our triggers and discover what soothes the heart and ignites the brain, they too have internal controls. But self-esteem stands alone in its deference to defenses, yet it is the one we need most.
When Phyllis Hyman committed suicide, by overdose, it was not precipitated by an addiction to drugs. And even in her depression, there was a difference, as it was less mental illness, than a very real, yet imagined psychological struggle. No matter how many albums she sold or concert halls she filled, inside her mind existed utter failure. No abusive boyfriend to isolate, then beat into submission. No backstory, that I have heard, in fact, she loomed large over her entourage. Even on stage, she never hesitated to mic check a background singer, if she perceived one was out of order, in volume or pitch.
“Self-esteem reflects an individual’s overall subjective, emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.”
Self-esteem is one emotion, that actually can be gutted – on time and on schedule – by someone else. When a man is verbally abused long enough “You are worthless!” he may come to not simply believe it, but accept and embody. His life may crash, ending up on skid row, and with self-esteem stripped down to his soul, he has no way of ever making it back, to the man he once was. Sexual and physical abusers, bullies, active racist and when homophobia manifest into violence, it is the attacker taking from you, what they do not have. For a brief moment, mean delivers an adrenaline explosion, which is often mistaken for self-esteem, but it is often nothing more than false, fleeting bravado.
Ms. Hyman became her own worst critic and her harshest judge: rarely acknowledging how much her music and her life meant to us. An hour before her biggest performance, sold out at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem New York, the internal struggle of Phyllis Hyman came to a close, while fans awaited curtain call… of one of the world’s great shows.
Generations Y & Z, after stunning political victories and breathtaking wins in academia and sport, we see you and look forward to hearing you too. Young Voices, however, I offer a bit of advice: Protect yourself esteem at all costs. Treat it like hope. Fight for it, like raging war against regret. When we believe that we are someone, and we accept our self, with equal weight on faults & greatness, we begin to see, with hard, dedicated work, we can achieve. Then the possibility of an angry or bitter or disappointing human being, diminishing our self respect and internal love, lessons, before its ultimate collapse. And as long as we do not play seesaw alone, or with anyone known to weigh down their pockets, our self-esteem remains intact, allowing life to reach balance.
this is… The Neighborhood
On July 24th until sundown on the 27th,
Xers and Boomers take your seat,
as the Ys and Zs tell us “What is on their mind?”.