What We Should All Take Away From Nipsey Hussle's Death

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It's okay if you haven't listened to his music enough to be able to identify his songs on the radio, or that you had to Google Crenshaw to understand why his absolutely tragic and senseless murder—at the age of just thirty-three, in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing store located in the middle of his beloved hood—cuts the West Coast the deepest. And it's okay if you prejudged him based on the aforementioned.

What matters is that you acknowledge the irrefutable and profound positive impact—Grammy-nominated rapper, creative, entrepreneur, tech geek, and community leader—Nipsey Hussle has left behind in what should be all of our minds and hearts. 

If we take away anything from this sad premature loss of someone who believed, “The highest human act is to inspire,” let it be this: Make it happen for yourself. A self-made entrepreneurial genius, if one thing is for sure it's that Nipsey wasn't in the business of making excuses, building his net worth reported to be in the millions of dollars. Love. Your loudest, your proudest. Nipsey showed just as much love as he received, primarily to his South Central LA community where he gave back (including providing job opportunities and educational resources), and championed tirelessly to uplift.

The overwhelmingly unexpected surge of unity and love amassed by the man born Ermias Asghedom convincingly stretches far beyond our own purview. (Or just ask Barack Obama. He paid tribute to the late great in a letter.)

Here's Why Heartbreak Is Currency

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The rawest human proof, heartbreak reveals a common thread through the emotional maladies: being at the mercy of a broken heart.

As someone whose healing journey is indefinite, in the midst of all this mending is the most valuable and powerful lesson of all—you don't need to become embittered before things get better. Nor do you need to purposely hurt others in a vain attempt to prove a point. By living and operating from a place purely driven by deeply unresolved animosity and emotional venom, not only do you generate bad karma for yourself, but you further compound everything you can't unfeel and I can't think of a more tragic irony. 

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.
— Hannah More

An affirmation that has impacted me so much it lives permanently on my left forearm. To remind me. To allow for honest reflection. To channel into a masterpiece. (That last one? The open waters of acknowledging my value still makes me feel incredibly shrunken and exposed at times. Hey, I'm only human.) To keep me where I need to be. To carve identity and get to know myself far away from the spaces I once thought I needed to fit. To continue appreciating the things that don't hurt. To remember to forgive myself, too. (If you're reading this, it's okay to stop mentally brutalizing yourself for the things that can't be undone, redone, or even answered. Want to reverse regret? Don't let the lessons be for nothing and pay more homage to your literal and figurative teachers.)

An open heart is the sole ingredient in the recipe for owning your heartbreak. I know that may sound a bit strange, even possibly conflicting, but I can personally attest to the validity in the remarkable healing power of giving and receiving more love than you resist. While there's a lot that still weighs me down internally—having loved and gotten my heart shattered more times than I can count if I were actually tallying—in addition to being a grieving daughter, granddaughter, cat mom, niece, cousin, and friend (occasionally keeping me up at night), healing is happening to me in the most unusual, unexpected, and small forms. 

Yes, healing happens.

A Realistic Approach to Getting out of Your Own Way

PHOTO CREDIT:  HAILEY KEAN

PHOTO CREDIT: HAILEY KEAN

"Oh yes, that's my specialty," award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood reveals in an interview with Bustle when asked if she procrastinates. In my mind, it would be nice to attribute a successful career under my belt—fifty years from now, God willing—to postponing things until the latest possible time. The likelihood of this actually happening is quite low. While it can be argued that there are some positive benefits to procrastinating, the advantages of a clear and focused path far outweigh the risk factors associated with any habits to the contrary.

Show me someone who gets excited about deadlines and I'll show you someone who is an effective liar. I'm actively scrambling to meet more than one project deadline and I've realized this is the natural (anxious) order of things when you have a tendency to spread yourself too thin, as I often do—the key to meeting deadlines, being fair to yourself: creating more quiet, focused, and inspired spaces, leaving messages unread and calls unanswered, not making myself too emotionally available to those who aren't in the habit of navigating life for themselves and forcing them to take charge in areas they often rely on me to assist with, constantly improving my organizational skills, not indulging in trivial things that interfere with me getting started on projects and tasks sooner, and overcoming the false mindset that "I have plenty of time."

Show me someone who has never felt discouraged at some point and I'll show you someone who can't possibly be human. Rewind to just a few months ago, newly exited and finally free from a relationship I was starving in and traded my authenticity for. Cutting those ties was vital to me repairing my relationship with myself and rebuilding love independent from someone I had allowed to reduce roughly every dimension of my identity. Perspective still shaky, it was something Rosario Dawson said to me after sharing some intimate thoughts about my 6-year relationship coming to an end that helped me to regain my sense of self, “...minus the doubt speak.” It was the weight of those words, specifically, that made me realize the true extent of forfeiture my self-esteem had undergone being in that toxic space. Moving forward, I needed to hold myself accountable in order to believe in myself again. We’ve all been there—at the edge of feeling discouraged and unsure of how to maintain balance in that internal environment so as not to fall and plummet to our emotional deaths—haven’t we?

Show me someone who doesn't have any regrets and I'll show you someone who doesn't make enough time to reflect. Unresolved regrets are the mental equivalent of mud if you’re not careful about getting stuck. Between the things left unsaid and the things left unmended, there is plenty I wish I could go back in time and rewrite. The reality is, I can’t, but sometimes even the firmest grip on reality isn’t enough to ease the scattered longings within me for a do-over. To safeguard my journey through regretful thinking, I’ve been learning to accept things in a deeper way and with less resistance for the things I can’t change—letting go.

It’s not always easy to reformat the self-sabotaging thoughts, patterns, and behaviors you’ve been conditioned to. Life is hard and the reasons are usually two: hearts hurt and minds trick. Reminding yourself where you’re headed and paving a clear path to get there through establishing healthy habits and deliberate action is how you face the daily challenges when life trips you up.