In August of 2012, I entered into a period of my life which I fondly refer to as The Age of Learning to Say F*ck It. One month prior, I had gotten braces. That’s right—I under duress voluntary became a brace-face at age 20. Despite the fact that I needed them and the orthodontist—a good friend of mother—gave me a very kind deal, it was the first time in my life I had ever felt truly mortified to speak or smile in public.
I was standing in the kitchen waiting for a friend to pick me up for a Childish Gambino concert in Detroit. My mom was sympathizing with my self-consciousness about the painful protrusions glued to my teeth. The last thing I wanted was my photo taken, but my dad told me to kindly suck it up. Hours later, after the concert openers and the excruciating gap waiting for the main act to start, I was dancing within arm’s reach of the stage. While the lights pulsed and the heat rose, I kept catching myself every time I started to smile, hissing inside my head, “Don’t do that, stupid; I don’t want people to notice I’m a college aged brace-face.” And then I got pissed. While Gambino started into “Sunrise” I berated myself for caring what anybody else thought. This was my experience. I was so close to the front I could reach out and touch Childish Gambino, and I was letting some ridiculous fear of what strangers thought ruin it? That was stupid. The lights pulsed, the bass rocked through my chest, I put my hands up, swiveled my hips, and let my lips pull back into an enormous smile. “F*ck it,” I thought.
Now it’s January of 2014 and my face is once again braceless. I’m sitting in the makeshift vanity I made in my closet, listening to Pretty Lights and taking pictures to remember what I and this space look like right now. I set my camera to snap pictures in succession, and at first I just sat there and smiled. The photos looked like me, but they told you nothing of substance. Then “I Can See it in Your Face” stared to play, and I thought, “Ah, f*ck it,” and danced around in my seat while the camera clicked. I figured I would look a little silly, but the result was a snapshot of myself as I honestly felt: decently unconcerned with anything besides loving that song. The Age of Learning to Say F*ck It produced in me a new kind of honesty where I can finally say, “I am what I am, you like it or you don’t.” And that has been such a liberating experience that I hope everybody goes through, in their own way. Entering the Capstone course, I hope very much that I can successfully carry that honesty over to make a new portfolio that abides by no one else’s expectations and that is purely, unapologetically me.