How would you feel if in a matter of months everything you’ve ever dreamed of came true? Emotional, thankful, un-deserving, jovial, nervous? Such a wide range of emotions, yet not nearly enough to describe the roller coaster that my life has been since early September of 2017. Twenty seven year-old visions that only I could see are now coming to fruition in Hollywood. Instead of taking these W’s in stride, it has brought anxiety I’ve never known into my life. Why you ask? Let’s talk.
The imposter syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. How does being at my first All-Star weekend bring that feeling out of me instead of me thinking life is starting to form like you’ve always wanted? I don’t know, that’s the scary part.
The great urban philosopher Lil’ Wayne has come closest to penning out the words that tell the truths that I’m scared to figure out the answer to.
And I’m grindin’ until I’m tired
‘Cause they said: “You ain’t grindin’ till you tired.”
So I’m grindin’ with my eyes wide
Lookin’ to find a way through the day, a light for the night
Dear Lord, you done took so many of my people
I’m just wonderin’ why you haven’t taken my life?
Like, what the hell am I doing right?
I stay up late at night and think why me? Why am I here with the most beautiful woman in the world by my side getting that one shot that 99.9 % of people who come from where I come from will never get? What if I blow it? I can’t come back to Texas with nothing to show for it.
As toxic as all this sounds that’s how I felt all Friday morning. My office is smack dab in downtown Los Angeles. I could see Snoop Dog hoopin’ on these young-bloods at the Adidas 747 warehouse showcase from where we are. I could see all the people from out-of-town in their favorite teams jerseys parading down the block. Blocks of the city smelled like the most potent marijuana known to man, it is LA at the end of the day. Police closed off a few lanes on our street to allow pedestrians a safe place to cross. It was a fuckin’ mad house. The energy in the city was something I’ve never experienced. I could feel the spirits of Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and all the old Hollywood legends rising from the ashes to mingle with the new stars of the city of angels. Something magical was happening around me.
But, I just couldn’t shake that feeling Friday morning. Besides the imposters syndrome I carry this huge sense of guilt on my shoulders. I feel like I left my family behind back home in Austin. I feel selfish. I feel like most of the people who helped me get here aren’t enjoying any fruits of the labor. I’ve cried myself to sleep out here knowing that. My girlfriend Leslie tells me I shouldn’t think that way because they understand that I had to “shoot my shot” and come out here. She’s absolutely right, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with.
Fast forward a few hours and I’m back at my studio in Long Beach to pick up Leslie so we can ride the train together back to LA. I light up my G pen and rip it a few times as I watch her in the mirror getting all dolled up for me. Her perfect doll face with those mesmerizing eyes are the only thing on this planet that takes the pain and anxiety away. It was at this moment that for the first time in 3 months I felt at peace. It wasn’t an epiphany, it was more of a moment of clarity. Time slowed down and I watched my thoughts bounce around in my head. I saw a new list of goals and milestones I wanted to achieve in those few moments. This is when I knew the rest of the night was only going to get better.
Leslie finishes getting ready and let me just say, she left me feeling like the luckiest guy not only in Los Angeles, but the whole world. I couldn’t keep my eyes and hands off her.
We get on the train to Los Angeles and I start to explain to Leslie what some women do during all-star weekend. Fellas, y’all know what I’m talking about. Girls fly in from all over the country to try and find them a baller. They dress up like the home wreckers they are and go searching for some prey. It’s some real primal shit that goes on there. The look of shock on Leslie’s face when she heard this was something I’ll never forget. She looked around and held my hand tighter than she’s ever squeezed before. She was attached at my hip for the rest of the weekend like she was the last part of my outfit.
We finally get off the train and make our way to Staples Center so we can indulge in the ratchet. I’ve seen Staples before many times, I’ve walked around and through LA Live many of times. But that night, Staples looked different. It looked even more beautiful than I remembered. She was dressed in All-Star banners, flashy lights, and the energy of the city was slapping on its walls and amplifying it into the universe.
We made our way into the plaza area where all the events were being held and stumbled upon a Kendrick Lamar concert. Hundreds of people gathered around LA live and took time to appreciate another All-Star in his own right.
Feeling like Tyson wit’ it, knock it out twice
I’m with it, only for the night, I’m kidding
Only for life, you’re a homie for life
You’re a homie for life, let’s get it
Hit that shoulder lean, I know what comin’ over mean
Backstroke oversea, I know what you need
Already on ten, our money come in
All feeling go out, this feeling don’t drought
This party won’t end
That’s when it all hit me. This was a celebration of the greatest hoopers in the world. Their hard work and sacrifice forced people to take note and now they’re here. Being identified as one of the best in the world at their individual professions. I thought to myself how I couldn’t imagine the feeling of ecstasy they were feeling that weekend. But then I thought about it again, and yes I can.
Before I left Austin I was taking to my boy Brandon about how I was nervous about coming out here. What he told me that night came back to me in that moment, “The best writers and creators in the world live in Los Angeles. They’re bringing you half way across the country on their dime because they believe in you. You’re their spade. If they thought someone else could do what you do then you would have stayed in Austin.” And he was right all along.
I smiled and started to feel like a new person as we made our last go around Staples before making our way back home. What happened next was something that I couldn’t have penned out any more perfect. Me calling this moment destiny is an understatement. I’m not a religious or spiritual person, but that night l definitely felt like a power greater than me was in control.
Leslie and I were about to cross the street when I looked to my right and there was the picture below.
Time stood still. The noise and energy in the city faded away. For those few seconds, I saw myself sitting in my room of the trailer park I grew up in. I saw myself sitting on the floor writing down all my goals in the notebook I used to carry everywhere. I saw images of me in elementary, middle, and high school. I flashed back to the last time I saw my grandpa alive. My whole life flashed before my eyes.
It was then that I knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be. It took seeing that sign that says, “TALENT CHECK-IN,” to take a deep breath and exhale the negativity. For 26 years 99% of people told me I’d never even sniff my dreams. That all changed about a year ago. Those people began to change their tune, they started to tell me, “OMG I’m so proud of you. You’ll get there one day.” Now, they tell me, “You always told us you’d end up in LA. You’re going to be big time.”
I finally got to a point where I can look at everybody who doubted me dead in the eye and tell them, “I told you so, bitch.”
All-Star 2018 in LA: the weekend that put the anxiety to rest.