This week, I found myself in my feelings. A friend of mine, a fellow model, gave me some big news. He’s shooting for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world – a 10-page spread at that. I’m genuinely happy for him, but at the same time jealousy and anxiety all kicked in. Jealous because its an opportunity not afforded to many models like him and I. By that I mean, not skinny, African American male models. Anxiety because I felt like with his success, since the probability of a model like us reaching “supermodel” status is already slim, that he’d be the exception and I’ll be left behind. Then, I caught myself. Why do I feel this way? And then it hit me. It’s an illusion; The Illusion of Opportunities.
As an African-American male growing up in the inner-city of Washington, D.C., I was taught that only a “few” will make it. Only a “handful” will avoid drug dealing, incarceration, government-assitance living and/or an early death. Then as I got older, I realized that “making it”, meant a 9-5, Monday through Friday, maybe 55k a year and work your butt off so hopefully by the time your 50 you could make upwards of 85K. In my hood, just like most hoods in America, we developed the “Crabs in a bucket” mentality. No one could seem to rise too far without others grabbing at them, to either help pull others out or for others to pull them back in.
I tried to take others with me as I aspired to rise to the top, not knowing that they are so afraid that i’ll scoop one of the “handful” of opportunities afforded to us, that they are pulling me back in. They were hating and being jealous, but its an illusion.
I had to remind myself that there are plenty of opportunities out there. There are many other ways to reach my goals. There are other editorials, other magazines, other clients and the industry in general ins’t going away tomorrow. So the next time you catch yourself hating or feeling jealous, just remind yourself its an illusion. What that person receives, is for that person. In the great words of Jay-Z, “What you eat, don’t make me shit.”