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SPECIAL NOTE: This blog was originally posted on or about 5/15/2021, but someone removed it for no reason, so I re-posted it. ENJOY!

You saw the title of this blog, and yes I know it's lengthy, but I'm asking you to read it anyway because I'm sure it's going to help somebody somewhere. Let me start by saying the Merriam-Webster dictionary simply defines the term 'individuality' as "total character peculiar to and distinguishing an individual from others." Therefore being an individual does not mean being (nor does it make you) a narcissist, snob or a loner, so let's get all that out of the way right now. The day you become confident and secure enough to make a conscious decision to become the individual you already are is the day your journey to that place called YOU begins!

* This is the day you stop worrying about what family and friends think.

* This is the day you begin to gather the strength and courage to free yourself from the person some people so selfishly, narrow-mindedly or stereotypically expect you to be; want you to be and wish you to remain.

* This is the day you begin to understand the difference and the actual boundaries between who you are as a man, woman, a Black person; who you are as a Black individual and how to balance these three perspectives.

* This is the day you will begin the process of shaping, defining and articulating your thoughts in a cool and friendly but firm, straight-forward, coherent, logical, rational and intelligent manner that defies ignorance, nonsense, negativity or the crab-in-the-barrel mentality that plagues our people to this very day.

* This is the day you will begin to 'do you' from a positive, intelligent, social, professional and goal-oriented perspective.

* This is the day your mentality, personality, behavior and above all... your ACTIONS will begin to reflect your true essence in terms of who you really are as a man, woman, a Black person... and an INDIVIDUAL.

The person who acknowledges him or herself as an individual can function quite well within society, and the success of a platonic friendship, romance or working relationship is definitely not reliant on another person being the same as you. It's simply a matter of cultivating one's mentality, attitude and personality; being sincere and serious about personal interests and a chosen profession and associating with people with whom you share a trust; mutual respect one another and each others differences and a good natural chemistry to balance it all. Natural chemistry is the most honest and genuine starting point for a good platonic friendship, romance or working relationship. Some people reach this level of thinking faster than others. Some seem to come out of the womb thinking this way while others never reach it all, and the reasons will vary from person to person as this relates to our genes, environment and the things we learn at home, school, work, among friends, acquaintances and yes... the streets. The entire concept of individuality is something that scares a lot of people, but they cannot admit it, and therefore never fully complete the journey into self and all it has to offer. Why? Well let's talk about it.

We have a basic human need to belong and get along. We therefore feel the need to identify, fit-in and bond with a person or group of people which is totally normal. Fitting-in can be good or bad depending on who you are; who your friends and associates are and the attitude, philosophy, conduct, behavior and activities of those involved. The problem arises when we try to identify, fit-in and bond with people are simply not right for who we are as individuals. Sometimes we make the mistake of allowing ourselves to think, behave, speak and even DO things that are just plain wrong just to be part of a certain group, culture or to be friends with a certain person. It takes a certain level of intellect and maturity to understand that being a 'follower' tends to hide and/or diminish the more positive aspects of one's OWN mentality, personality, range of interests and tends to corrupt one's own logic set-up, belief system and behavior. It therefore becomes clear to the conscious Black INDIVIDUAL that his or her positive personal attributes are far more valuable and important than fitting-in.

The fine art of evolving into an individual requires the will to exercise one's right to be a free thinker. I also believe there is a relationship between the concept of 'free thought' and one's desire to shape and express him or herself in the manner that suits their unique existence. There is a special light that shines within those who acknowledge, respect and protect their individuality. It is a light that drives them to live, love, experience and actually succeed in life on their own terms and without fear of legal or social retribution because they know their rights as both a citizen and an individual. This is why I believe in this line of thinking because it gives us the will and the courage to stand up, resist and actually rebuke the negative influences associated with certain social, political, cultural or tribal norms... including any negative influences imposed upon us by family, friends and peers in general. Yes I said it! We all know that family, friends and peers in general are close to our psychological and emotional need to belong. They are therefore capable of imposing (or attempting to impose) negative influences and control tactics upon those close to them through tease or the guilt-trip process associated with psychological, emotional, or in a worse case scenario, physical coercion... but only if you allow it!

We all know that family, friends and certain peers will do or say certain things for our own good, and that's a good thing... but NOT when the their influence and control becomes negative, self-serving or illegal and a distraction to the real YOU. It therefore takes a certain level of intellect combined with knowledge of self, good judgment, and once again... maturity... to think ABOVE certain trends, cultural (or tribal) ideologies, habits and behaviors deemed to be mindless, ignorant, socially unacceptable, self-defeating, non-progressive or outright criminal. It therefore takes a rational, fair-minded, analytical and perhaps even defiant 'free-thinker' to apply the logical, rational, analytical and critical thinking skills needed to overcome not only negative peer pressure, but the lies, propaganda and politically biased ideologies imposed by certain politicians and the media... and let us not forget the abundance of 'people stereotypes' generated by the entertainment and music industries. People of all demographics have many challenges to face in this diverse yet interdependent world, and we cannot evolve without taking control of our mind, soul, spirit and daring to be different in the name of INDIVIDUALITY.

Now... will thinking this way and on such a level make some people uncomfortable? You're doggone right it will! Will some people look at you like you've got three heads or even attack you for having your own personalized world view, opinions, style and approach to life. You're doggone right they will! Will some people become intimidated by or even resentful of your intellect, personal growth and evolution as an individual... and will some of them go so far as to say "you think you're better than me?" You're doggone right they will, but it's OK... it really is. Why? This is where your courage comes into play because you CANNOT allow these people to hold you back! You must understand that some people are programmed to psychologically and emotionally believe that YOU have to fit-in with THEM or something is wrong with YOU... and as far as I'm concerned, this is a bunch of majority rules mindset on one hand and tribal nonsense on the other.

Three levels of self-awareness in terms of being a Black man or woman, person and individual are what provide you the courage and strength to speak your mind, express your social/cultural beliefs and defend your ideology. All you have do is dare to be your true self; dare to be as different as your heart, mind, body and soul will allow, and don't let ANYONE talk you out of the inner desire to be the person you are and the individual you wish to be.People will take your very soul if you let them, so you basically have to be intellectually defiant and arm yourself with TRUE self-esteem, confidence and the courage to be yourself... and it's easier than you think because you ALREADY exist as you! Do not change or dumb yourself down to satisfy or appease those who thrive on ignorance, negativity, drama or wrongdoing! Stand your ground in terms of the way you think, speak and choose to live your life. I will also add that this is not about thinking or believing yourself to be better than the next person... it's not about that at all. This is about being the best YOU possible. No more, no less.

Some people cannot handle those who think on this level, and they see it as breaking with culture, code, tradition, social and/or racial norms. Well to THAT I say this: If something in your soul tells you to make a change in the name of self-improvement, progress and your evolution as an individual, then forget about 'people', and listen to your soul. Let your intellect and better judgment prevail. Never let peer pressure; the media or that thing called 'osmosis' throw you off your game. Just do your best to become a logical, rational, fair-minded, unbiased and honest individual, and these character traits will more than likely take you to whoever you were meant to be; wherever you are meant to go and help keep you within the limits of the law in the process. The choice to evolve into your own individual is up to you, and the choices you make will say it all. Now go on and walk through that door that leads to the next chapter of your life, live it and love it... and with that, I shall close with my personal philosophy which is this:

"My Blackness does not define me. I define my Blackness!"

Posted By: Gene Amadi Jakande
Thursday, June 17th 2021 at 3:05AM
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