Dana Burtin is 18 years old and a college student majoring in Recording Arts and Technology. Dana writes and constructs songs for everyone to hear under the moniker, LyricalGenes. He makes positive and motivational music; hopefully, a relatable message for everyone to hear. With that being said, writing is his form of positive expression and his way of giving back to the people. No matter the circumstances, he gains the most satisfaction when he has the opportunity to help anybody through something he loves doing.
His name was Marshall. A young white teenager who always sat in the back of class sketching, what seemed to be, cartoon characters. He moved into town two days ago, therefore, he was known as the new kid in school. Marshall rarely spoke, raised his hand, and was never the cause of the many altercations that took place at Lincoln High School in Detroit, Michigan. His head was always looking down as he walked in the hallways, avoiding eye contact from people to eliminate the misconception that he was friendly enough to talk. At least, that is what I thought. What seemed to be another boring day of class, would change Marshall’s life forever. As Mr. McHay, the History teacher, instructed the class to write their first essay, the new kid, Marshall, raised his hand. The class was stunned, shushing people from across the room, gasping at the fact that Marshall, the kid who remained silent for a substantial amount of school days, was deciding to participate in a class that most students found grueling to comprehend and memorize. And to think that Marshall raised his hand to possibly say something intelligent in history class, had many people amazed. “May I use the bathroom,” Marshall asked. Mr. McHay stared at Marshall, taking in the anticlimactic feeling in the room. As Marshall left for the restroom, a group of kids followed behind him, leaving Kim, Marshall’s classmate, with an uncertainty feeling that something bad may happen. Furthermore, the kids that Kim suspected who followed Marshall into the bathroom, returned to Mr. McHay’s classroom before Marshall. Her uncertainty feeling was heightened, for she pays close attention to the people who are quiet and/or are considered an “easy target” for bullies to take their rage out on. Instead of asking the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom, Kim stormed out of her chair, making a beeline to the restroom. As she opened the restroom door, she saw Marshall laying helpless on the floor, blood spewing from his head, a metal pipe from the faucet next to him, and his eyes having a glazed look to them. Despite where you come from, what you go through, or the labels bestowed upon you, you are special and can contribute your own unique abilities in society. Whether it is making music, videos, writing, etc., your past life does not have to define who you will be in the future. From his book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell exemplifies this stance by stating, "Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.” (Page 19) Much like Malcolm Gladwell’s, David and Goliath story, Marshall’s disadvantages of where he came from, his traumatic events, and how people's labels that were bestowed upon him, motivated him and inadvertently pushed Marshall in the right career path. Art is what Marshall loved! Music for the soul, drawing and videos for stimulation, and writing for the mind. Marshall listened to music so much that he came to a point in his life where he wanted to create his own music. Due to Marshall’s past, he constantly had content he wanted to address and illustrate in songs as a way of therapy for himself. Simply writing about how he felt, was not enough to reduce the pain he suffered physically and emotionally from his childhood. This is when Marshall was introduced to battle rap. Battle rap is when two people go head-to-head to see who can come up with the best rhymes while bragging, boasting, and insulting their opponent. Marshall participated in many battle rap competitions, winning majority of his battles by crowd decision. Marshall’s tenacity and passion on the mic gained the respect from many people, earning himself a support system in music, something he couldn’t do in the past. His rapping skills earned the likes of, world renowned producer, Dr. Dre, who approached Marshall with an offer that would make Marshall more motivated than ever, a record deal. As a result, Dr. Dre would show Marshall his methods in the music industry by molding a brand according to Marshall’s style. Thus, Marshall would have his own image that would be promoted to potential worldwide fans on behalf of Dr. Dre’s label, Aftermath Records. Soon after, Marshall would release tracks under the moniker, Eminem, earning himself a hit record called, My Name Is, just weeks after his last battle rap competition. “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime,” had many people catching on to what Marshall had to offer. Delivering a technical rhyme scheme, catching the ears of a young audience propelling his music endeavors forward, constructing a platform that would put him in the conversation with the greats like: Jay-Z, Tupac, and Biggie. The kid who was severely beaten by his bullies, put in a coma for ten days, had very little money, and a destructive home, made something out of himself. Eminem’s life is a perfect example on how to use your life as a form of expression. Instead of conforming to his environment, he used his disadvantages as an advantage to remain persistent in his goals, blocking out negativity and striving for what he loved while, believing in himself that what he was doing was for a greater purpose. Eminem knew the problems he was facing were temporary, allowing him to face his giants and continue on his journey. “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.” (Malcolm Gladwell) Suffering through pain in the present, foreshadows the happiness in the future that comes with your determination. Eminem’s past of being bullied and remaining quiet, shifted his objective. His grit propelled him forward to do what others never pictured him doing, making popular music that many people related to. “Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of (these) one-sided conflicts. Because the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.” (Malcolm Gladwell) Marshall was not a troubled kid, but he always had trouble surrounding him. From a young age, he made it a personal decision to have a better life than what he saw around him. Marshall did not want to become a product of his environment; therefore, he influenced other people, especially those in similar shoes as he had, through his songs to represent a mere example that people’s judgments cannot destroy you. Instead, use their opinions as stepping stones to advance yourself toward your own goals in life.
Works Cited “David and Goliath Quotes by Malcolm Gladwell.” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/21445709-david-and-goliath.
Through the Mind of a Perfectionist
Perfection. I love to hate the word. Expecting to be perfect is an unrealistic standard to place yourself, someone else, and something else. But as a young child, you think everything is possible; therefore, you strive to be perfect because everyone tells you to do so. However, as you grow older, you realize that perfection has its pros and cons, and can way on a person mentally and emotionally. “It’s good, but it’s not perfect! It has to be perfect!” This is what my football coach would always say to me, even playing against older, faster, stronger kids, he wanted me to be perfect. It did not matter if the kids my age were behind in skill when compared to me, I had to be perfect. When playing basketball, my defense was never good enough, my jump hot was not good enough, free throws, or even my attitude was not good enough despite the fact that my team and I would make it to championship after championship! A kid with the world in front of him, wanting nothing more than just to play outside with his friends, felt that he had to always be perfect? When perfection is instilled in your head from a young age, it changes how you see the world, you become off balance, and eventually burn out. Instead of accepting the world as it is, you begin to put expectations on others, questioning why they do not have the same outlook on life as you do. For example, when you want to make it to states in track and you know, in order to qualify, you have to drop a full 2 seconds from your 200m time and 1 second on your 100m time, you will train harder than ever, ignoring your body’s tolerance threshold of pain and exhaustion. You do this not because everyone else does it, but this is how you were taught and see your football coach nagging you on about perfection. You train so hard that you forget about your own well-being in order to stay focused. For instance, your friends invite you to a party on Sunday, but you deny the invitation because the party is scheduled at the same time you were planning to workout. And even though your school does not have track practice on Sunday’s, you always train at the local track by yourself. You know what they say, “NO. DAYS. OFF.” As you make that car ride to the local track, you begin to second guess your decision on not going to that party. You begin to question if all of this training is worthwhile. You begin to think about all the fun experiences you could be having at that party. You begin to think about the loud music that would be playing, the girls, the fun, your friends, the fun, the craziness, the chaos, the fun, for God’s sake the FUN, the f-. As you slowly exit your daydreaming encounter, you arrive at the track. As you step out of the car, you open the gate doors to the track. Immediately, you smell that same polyurethane track. That smell that makes you sick to your stomach due to the amount of times you constantly run on it. Under your breathe, you mumble, “This will all pay off, right? I’ll get a scholarship for college, I’ll get a 4.0 GPA, I’ll start a business, I’ll be rich, I’ll get the girls, I’ll be famous! This will all pay off.” You take a deep breath and proceed to do your stretching and workout routine, wishing you could travel in time to see the end results of your extra training in action. The next day, you show up to school and everyone is talking about how fun the party was that you couldn’t attend. As you pass students in the hallway, you can overhear their conversations about how Lisa did this and Robert did that. Sure, it bothers you that everyone else had a fun Sunday evening except yourself, but you prefer to be in your own space anyway. You cannot afford to have a fluke accident at a party, ending your chances of going to states, let alone your career. Plus, every professional athlete had to make sacrifices, right? It will all be worth it. Fast forward a few months, your training is paying off! Your times have improved, you have broken multiple school records, you are ranked in the state, your name is in the newspaper and front page illustrating how, “Dana Burtin is the first ever NDCL sprinter to run at the state track meet.” You are making history and think to yourself, “All of my hard work is paying off now, I have to keep going. I can’t let up!” So, you are now ready for states! After qualifying for the all-schools meet, districts, and being interviewed on the spot at regionals, you qualify for the state track meet. This is all you wanted and asked for! You and your team travel to Columbus for the meet, visiting Ohio State’s track, soaking in the moment, having a memorable time. However, you have a different experience. On the ride to Columbus, you cannot stop thinking about how the meet will turn out. “Will I lose? Will I win? Am I ready? I don’t think I’m fast enough.” You become very distant from your team and seem aloof from the present moment. Your teammates try to get you involved by playing cards, but, as usual, you refuse their offer. The only thing you are thinking about is winning the meet and finally receiving the recognition that you want. When you arrive at Ohio State, you instantly try to figure out how you are going to run your 200m race PERFECTLY. You begin to count your steps, analyze the 200m curve, imagine people chanting your name down the straight away, picture a first place finish as you show boat to the crowd by pointing to all the females in the girl section, letting everyone know who the boss is. Instead of calculating the race days prior to the event, why couldn’t you just enjoy the experience while it lasted? Why couldn’t you slow time down and be proud of yourself for once Why couldn’t you let go?... Perfection. Perfection. Perfection! It’s the day of the state track meet. The umpire is getting his equipment ready to send eighteen of Ohio’s fastest sprinters on their way, out of the blocks, into their future. Before you enter the blocks, you feel exhausted, for the days prior to the event and during the meet, caused your body to feel weak and tired. Prior to the meet, you were eating meals later than usual, sleeping horribly, and your mind was psyching you out of the experience. During the meet, there was a three-hour rain delay that occurred just after you warmed up for your event; therefore, you are in no condition to run at your peak performance. About three hours later, you find yourself in front of your set of blocks, ready to start, for the 200m dash, wandering how you got here. As the umpire says, “Runners, stand over your blocks,” you see yourself on the big screen. You see your fellow competitors swaying back and forth anxious to start this highly anticipated race. Now, the umpire announces the runners to take their marks. Before you enter your blocks, you take a deep breath and look up at the sky, finally finding relaxation in the blue, somewhat cloudy, skies. Although you have finally relaxed, you now feel drained. The umpire yells, “GET SET!” You close your eyes. “BANG!” As the gun goes off, you instantly sprint out of the blocks, running the curve that you calculated before the meet. You seem to be in the lead going into the straight away, but all of a sudden, you gas out. Your legs become weak and arms are heavy. At this moment, you realize that this race will not be perfect. Your calculated plans are foiled, and your endurance hits a wall. At the end of the race, you see your name show up in a position that is lower than expected. You slowly walk off the track in disbelief, but relieved that this is the last track meet. You sit down to begin untying your track spikes. As you do so, your track coach comes by to congratulate you on your accomplishments. She asks, “So how do you feel?” You reply saying, “I feel fine. I feel great! I can’t wait to go to sleep,” lying about how your optimism outweighs the subpar performance you just delivered. After your race, a reporter comes up to you and says, “Your senior year is finally over. You’ve made tons of history for your school. You have to be proud of yourself. What will you do next?” “I’ll be making a lot of music. Making music because I want to and that’s what I enjoy. I can make 100 songs and not have one person listen it and still feel satisfied. For every kid that has a passion, a REAL passion that you work at every day, to the point that the people around you become bothersome with the amount of time you spend at working on that goal, do it and block out every person that disrupts your vision. You can nev-” “DJ? Are you ready to answer?” the reporter says. You realize you were daydreaming about giving that answer to the reporter and snap back into reality. You really respond to the reporter by saying, “This season was so fun. I learned a lot at 17 years old and have a lot more to experience that I am looking forward to. Medals only represent victory; it doesn’t show all the behind the scenes work that goes on to even have a chance at this kind of experience.” You say that answer, not because that is truly how you feel, but because that answer was the right answer. The answer that is politically correct. The “perfect” answer. Furthermore, the reporter thanks you for your time and walks off to do another interview. You pack your track equipment in your bag and begin to walk off the Ohio State campus. People from everywhere start to congratulate you from a distance. “GOOD JOB DANA!” “WAY TO GO DJ!” To acknowledge them, you simply fake smile and wave. Of course, you appreciate the support, but you are not content with your performance. With the sun nearly at dusk, you walk off the track, leaving a life of stardom that you have failed to grasp, return back to the regular life you have been trying to stray from, in pursuit of a new purpose.