For the last couple weeks, I have been very lost. Ever since I moved to Southern Califonia, I felt like I was diving into this pool of sharks, where the standards were higher, the people were faker, and the end goal was always business. Everyone here does a hundred different things and when you step into it, I imagined, you had better have something to show.
So moving to a new place made me feel like I had to asssimilate to these percieved social conventions. It’s half true. I have met people here who care very much about numbers and followers and how big your audience is and I’m small. I don’t think I’ve ever pretended to be a big fish though. I love dressing up to ridiculous levels, big make up, changing my hair every day. I always wanted to move with a purpose, in a club, at a party, in a library. Having been vey suicidal, being completely absent in my own life (there are years that I didn’t do anything at all), I am determined to never live my life that way again. All of this that I love about myself can put people off. People who could help get me a bigger audience or into exclusive parties, and for the last couple of weeks I forgot what made me truly happy.
I felt shame for turning 24 and still being a little fish. Like I got really wrapped up in this idea that I should be bigger, but that’s not what I really want to be or do. When I first started making YouTube videos I went in for myself. While I have met some of my best friends through it, I expected to stay small for lots of reasons. Some I can change, some I can’t and I’m learning to be okay with that. Jealous is not the right word for what I felt when I looked at friends’ numbers. Scared, probably, that I was no longer good enough for them, more angry that I wasn’t pushing myself to be on that level. So I got more aggressive about things I didn’t care about, started talking to people I didn’t care about (none who read this) and hating myself for not being more like them. I kind of forgot how to care about people I actually did like and that sucks because my energy was spent on trying to be fake.
Then I read the interview with RuPaul today and it clicked. Zakkarrii, you’re being stupid. The people who proofread the bitchy posts for me, the cute boy who actually supports my creative work, the friends who surround me, they liked me for me. It was where RuPaul talked about not be invited to the other celebrities shows and parties. “In fact, I made a pact with myself when I was 15 that if I was going to live this life, I’m only going to do it on my terms, and I’m only going to do it if I’m putting my middle finger up at society the whole time. So any time I’ve had yearnings to go, “Aw, gee, I wish I could be invited to the Emmys,” I say, Ru, Ru, remember the pact you made. You never wanted to be a part of that bullshit.” That’s not necessarily what I want to be, but it’s pretty close.
So I forgive myself. There was an opportunity to work with someone at a place that I have only dreamed about going. While we’re working on their thing, there was a moment to run away with the opportunity. I always bring my camera with me and did my own renegade photo shoot in the down time. Sure, I felt bad for stealing this moment for myself, but the chances of being back there ever again were slim. The place we were at? They don’t want people like me, unrealistic ambition and too many rough edges. I worry that I rubbed that person the wrong way because of it and that it was, in a way, unprofessional, even if they said it was okay. It’s a useless thought (can’t dodge consequences with what if’s) but if the roles had been reversed and knowing what I did about that place…I would have let them do it too.
It’s not that I have been fake, because I am shit at lying. But my true intentions in starting relationships with people (to make fun creative stuff) got lost in what I thought they wanted me to be. I got scared of being unwanted in a new place, but this weekend has reminded I am good enough and I’m only getting better.
As for being small? The people I respect and admire spent years being true to themselves before they became well known and some of them aren’t that famous. I met someone over the weekend who has like 50,000 followers, more if we add up all the social media accounts. But when I looked closer, engagement wise, their numbers were actually a fraction of that. It gave me a little comfort. I may be small, but I’m not a fish, I am a person. A person who doesn’t hold back anything, runs headlong with every moment and feels deeply. There are people who love me for that, big fishies or small fishies, so blub blub mother fuckers. The worth of my life is not in how many people know me, it is in the passion with which I live.
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Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels