Today I found an old journal entry that serves as an inspiring reminder at the top of this 2013 year. I hope everyone is feeling inspired, strong and brave - if not you have until Chinese New Year Feb 10 to get your act together and celebrate the New Year again - this time started on the right foot! (Like Me!)
Re Definition of Combo No. 3
“We are so blessed you know? You and I?” I glanced over to her in the driver’s seat hoping for a concurring head nod. Instead I saw the abstinence and hesitation in her eyes set forward as this woman chowed down on her Chinese takeout combo no. 3. We were driving home from a bachelorette party and I suppose the themes of marriage, work and scheduled leisure were still swirling in the forefront. “I’m running out of time,” she insisted as plum sauce dangled from her bottom lip, “I wanted a family and kids by now.” I remembered a moment not that long ago when my own panic translated into a 3 year live-in boyfriend for the sake of creature comforts, so that every night could be movie night. Now, from where I was sitting, I could hear this woman’s biological clock tick so loud it was drowning out Omarion’s crooning over a poorly installed car stereo. “I got this icebox where my heart used to be…” Nice beat! I thought to myself as I tuned out the belabored moaning from the driver’s seat and the smells of a stale combination.
When asked to address the topic of being a female in the business of hip hop, I don’t presently wish to reiterate sentiments of “Go on with your bad self girrrl” or “woman power!” I’ll save such pep rally chants for the next incarnation of the Spice girls (or was that the Pussy Cat Dolls?) I don’t even wish the address the numerous challenges as a lady in a male dominated industry, though I will briefly mention that I have, in the past, been offered a very large sum of money to rap in a bikini. Instead, allow me to provide some opinionated insight on how to get over the HUMP of female social conditioning.
I can barely claim that I carved my career path correctly – I graduated from the University of Toronto in architecture but chose to be a rapper instead, worked 5 ½ jobs to put out an independent album named Mississauga, took on a 3 year stint as a promoter and only now, almost 4 years later, am I ready to release another record and embark on a project that is a true reflection of myself. I receive periodic phone calls from my mother reminding me “No man will want you past the age of 24” and apparently I have intentionally chosen the life of a church mouse spinster. So ladies…are those the options? Live your dreams and rot alone or toil through a mundane existence but have company and children to show for it? Certainly not.
If you could do anything as life work, what would you do? Music, astronomy, accounting, social work…the possibilities are endless and thus the forward movements should be driven by what will compel you to be great at what you do. At this moment in the world they are building an underwater train tunnel to connect Europe to Asia, discovering the human genome that codes our traits and just next week earth will witness a meteor shower by traveling in the path of a comet that exploded back in 83 BC. Surely if you wish to be the top accountant of Merrill Lynch, a hockey player for the NHL or, in my case, an architect turned emcee; these aspirations are the tip of the iceberg. The lesson is simple, but the application is more difficult. As little women, we are taught didactic messages that we may be whoever we wish to be. 3 years past pre teen and such lofty aspirations are replaced by stern guidance councillors pressing upon us their opinion of our potential. Hitting our mid 20s, we may grow ambivalent toward careers, focusing on all the things we are told we MUST be as women by a certain time of life. Be aware of social conditioning. Gone are the days of studying for a specific career, spending your life working up your credentials from fetching coffee to writing copy then enjoying the remainder of life once pension rolls in and your back gives out. For whatever reason, be it increased access to information, new forms of instant communication or the mobility of travel – in our generation we may embark upon many careers with many homes in one lifetime.
Think of your choices in life much like an ideal combo platter! Combo no. 3 can be modified to become your own…after all, you are the customer. Go ahead! Replace the chicken balls with radio active red sauce for broccoli, then ask for a side of both coconut rice AND noodles. Study kinesiology, retreat to the jungles of Guatemala to observe a new plant species then return home and author a book on The Kinesiology of Plants while sampling Mai Tai’s in South America. Contrary to how women of our mother’s generation (and still today) are taught, if you choose one path, you are not locked into this choice forever. If you move somewhere, you are not chained to the coconut water on the island for all eternity. Allow curiosities, studies and decisions to shape an ever changing multi colored path. Be strategic, but never stringent. Make more decisions than impulse buys at an end of summer sale and you’re already halfway there. In all this, remain compelled to do what you love and who and, by the ease of natural progression and hard work, your perfect combination of life, work, love and the redefinition of womanhood will arrive in due time. Such a great combination never tasted better.