Dan wanted to go watch Straight Outta Compton at the movies this weekend. I rolled my eyes; the poor guy thinks he's a gangster. I find it quite amusing that he listens to rap music ALL the time: while he gets ready in the mornings, as he drives home from work in the evening, while he works out in the garage on his boat. He's got his NWA Pandora station always at the ready.
How much do you want to bet he's listening to it in those headphones right now, while he aerates the lawn?
But hey, everyone has their quirks, and he grew up listening to this kind of music so it makes him happy.
I on the other hand, don't get it. It just sounds like a bunch of noise to me. I didn't grow up listening to gangster rap. The hardest rap I ever listened to was Will Smith singing Gettin' Jiggy With It as I cruised the strip at Myrtle Beach with my girl, Darla.
Needless to say, I was skeptical of watching the movie. I had no idea what these guys were all about. And why did they all have silly names like Dr. Dre and Easy E and Ice Cube? All I knew was that they said the "F" word a lot and appeared to promote violence in their lyrics.
But the movie was fantastic. I can't stop thinking about it. I asked Dan to drag out his old CD's so I could listen to them in my car when I went to the grocery store last night. I wanted to really listen to the lyrics, now that I knew what they were all about.
You see, the movie was about a group of kids who used the stories of their own experiences to change the world. They grew up in the streets of Compton, and due to their age, the color of their skin, and their geographic location, they were assumed to be trouble. But rather than succumb to this stereotype, they tried to rise above it. They combined stories of the only life that they knew with their passion for music and, in the form of rap music, they told their truth. And even though many others didn't want to hear it, even though it offended multitudes of people, they told it anyway. Their art was a reflection of their reality. They weren't creating violence just for the heck of it, as many believed. They were simply telling their truth. They wanted to be heard. They had the vision to see the world as a better place where the injustices and discrimination that they endured no longer existed, and they were willing to fight to make that vision a reality.
I was deeply moved. This story was a direct example of what I've come to believe to be true over the last few years: that the only way to change the world, or even make a difference, is to be ourselves, be exactly who we are, stop apologizing for what we're not, and tell our own personal truth.
Of course, most of us didn't grow up in the streets of Compton. Many of us haven't endured such extreme examples of injustice or hardship in our lives. But that doesn't make our stories any less important. Each of us still has our own truth to tell.
We don't know the power of our stories until we tell them. We don't know who they'll touch. We don't know who needs to hear them. I'm pretty sure that those rebel teenagers from Compton had no clue that the stories they were telling would someday touch the life of a 30-something woman from the foothills of Tennessee.
But they did. And I'm grateful.
And more importantly, I'm inspired. Inspired to use my own voice and my own struggles to share my own truth with the world.
I recently shared the story of my struggles with infertility and miscarriage, and the response and outpouring of love that I received was overwhelming. So many of my precious friends reached out to me to share their own struggles, and to say "thank you" for sharing mine. I believe that this is where true connection and real change begins, when we allow others to see our struggles and our pain and our TRUTH, and we see theirs.
What about you? Are you telling your truth? Maybe you should start today. You never know who needs you to be brave so that they are inspired to do the same.
Story-telling and truth sharing is an important theme among many of my friends and I right now. I'm blessed to know many bold truth-tellers. Here are a few recent articles from their blogs. Please check them out:
It's The Only Story I Have to Tell by Brianna Lamberson
What To Do When Your Truth is Ugly by Kate Spears
Change The World By Telling Your Story by Elizabeth Tai
And, two of the boldest truth-tellers in the universe:
If you know others who are spreading the light with their truth, please let me know in the comments below. I don't want to miss out on what they have to say!
© Haley McManigal 2015
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Photo credit: create your own image at www.straightouttasomewhere.com. Photo of Dan by author.