I’m what you could easily refer to as a late bloomer… at least with regard to my professional life. From an early age, I cared more about getting out to the hottest clubs and keeping up with the (usually corny) fashion trends of the month than I did about saving money or developing a real career. It wasn’t for lack of ambition… I worked hard at my day jobs, and even when I made mistakes, I got back up and tried again. I just never took time, or had the desire, to really make life plans for myself. When keeping it real goes wrong, I suppose.
I was 32-years-old when I had my adult reality check. I just woke up one day and said to myself, “I’m tired of feeling this way, and I’m never going to feel or think this way again.” Addicts call it a “moment of clarity” and Oprah calls it the “Aha moment”… it’s all the same, really. For me, it was that snap in time that I made a conscious decision to move forward with a new attitude and focus. I’d always wanted success, but I finally set my sites on digging in to get it.
Of course, the years that followed were full of sacrifice, more hard work than I’d ever imagined, and a lot of tears as I forged ahead. A decade and a move across the country later, I’ve got a few bylines under my belt, started my own company (a couple of them even) and have been working independently for six of those years. I’m definitely proud of my accomplishments, however I feel like I’m on my second wind now… yet another “moment” of realizing the next phase of my life.
As we were developing the concept for UrbLife.com, I spoke with many of my peers who had similar feelings of being “late” when it came to the reality of accepting adulthood. The attraction to youthful identity in today’s society for people in their 30’s and 40’s is rampant… It’s hard to say if it’s pressure from a Hip Hop lifestyle to always keep up with the next thing, or if we’re so advanced that we go through midlife crises early… but this “bubble” of youth is real for so many.
If you’re 35 and arguing over the lyrical integrity of Soulja Boy’s lyrics, or 42 with kids and still rushing to the club every weekend, or 32 and sagging your jeans off your butt (or worse yet, trying to rock skinny jeans), or throwing rims on your car when you have no savings account at 46-years-old, you may not have had your “moment” yet. But no worries, you will have one when you’re ready.
We recently asked a number of people about their “moment,” and got some really interesting answers. In some cases we got hilarious stories, while others were more serious and straightforward. Some people had their moments early in life, while others just recently saw the light. Either way, everyone’s moment is equally as important in the equation, and we thank you for sharing!
After all, everybody has to grow up sometime.
Sanaa Hamri – Film Director, Age 35
My moment was in the music industry when I was involved, and there were big budgets. Everybody used to do these amazing videos and I would do editing. I would do a lot of videos for big artists at the time – it was Jay-Z, back when DMX was really huge, Jermaine Dupri and Mariah Carey. I realized as an editor, before you became a director, you have so much influence with imagery. From then on, I said I would make sure there were other alternatives out there.
J Hatch – Co-CEO of iStandardProducers.com, Age 38
My moment was not too long ago. I started to realize that I was getting older because I was hating on the younger kids getting on the bus… jeans off their asses, trying to gain everyone’s attention, playing loud music, then it came to me that I was that same kid many moons ago. Like how can I be mad at them? Or better yet, was I that bad?
Now, I don’t consider myself old at all, I definitely have my finger on the pulse of what goes on within the major part of the music industry and Hip Hop culture, but I feel like I am growing up and not taking things for granted. Needless to say, I am wearing jeans that fit, but that’s OK, that’s still Hip Hop… it is for me anyway.
DJ Whoo Kid – Sirius Shade 45 On-Air Personality; G-Unit DJ; Entrepreneur, Age 38
When my first and second sons were born back-to-back, I started getting attacked by this thing called Family Health Insurance. F*ck!
Tamekia Flowers-Holland – Founder/Executive Director Hip Hop 4 Life, HipHop4LifeOnline.com, Age 34
Yes! It was the day I launched my first program for Hip Hop 4 Life in 2003. We provide young people ages 12-18 with life skills training and other information/education they need to build self-esteem, confidence, sound judgment and begin their path to success.
However, I realized quickly that I must lead by example. I couldn’t teach young people about skills such as proper conduct and behavior while still acting a fool and being immature. I had to quickly make sure that I was on point so I could help them. While I am able to relate to and engage my youth, they must always see someone who is poised and professional!
Rikers – Director of Marketing Stall and Dean; Director of Marketing Rucker; Founder/President Gettin it Together Records; Music Editor Beyond Race Magazine, Age 35
Sitting in the 72nd precinct in Brooklyn… we were all just arrested for robbery. There was maybe 8-10 of us, but mind you I had at least $500 in my pocket. It was my junior year of high school, and I was like “another weekend with the boys in central bookings!” An officer finger-printing me said, “You don’t belong here. I can see it on your face, this is not you, you should find new friends because you have great grades. I know you’re not selling drugs to get this money and this is not for you.”
I was never told something that made me look at my life as doing something wrong all that time. I thought that was normal living until that point. That’s when I realized most of my issues weren’t my own. I didn’t snatch a chain, but I found myself inside jail anyway. I decided then I was going to be smarter and not let people dictate my flow, because I was ultimately responsible, and my life was mostly in my own hands.
Common – Artist/Actor, Age 38
That moment came for me when I knew I was having my daughter – I knew I needed to be responsible. Even before that I had a certain amount of consciousness, and you can speak it, but do you live it all the time? I’m not perfect now, but at that point I decided to make conscious choices to do the right thing. It was right in front of me and I had the information to know to do better, so it was time for me to do better. Sometimes you can know to do better and slip up, but when my daughter was coming into the world I said I had to buckle down and do right.
Alvin “Aqua Boogie” Blanco – Writer; Founder of SlangRapDemocracy.com, Age 32
I love how Hip Hop can keep you young, at heart. My love for new kicks, fresh music, the latest fashion; it all makes me feel like a big kid at times. However, there is a fine line between staying young at heart and not growing the f*ck up.That said, seeing how the latest teeny bopping Hip-Hopper who will be gone next year always provides me with a good template of what NOT to look like. To quote Ghostface on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… “Be original.”
Simone “Boss Lady” Kapsalides – Content Manager/Host of DrJays.com Live, Age 29
The moment I had my ‘adulthood reality check’ was when my grandmother sat me down and told me that if I was to follow my career dreams to move from Sydney, Australia to New York City, the only way I would have her blessing would be to buy my first apartment. She reasoned it be a wise financial move, and would show her I was responsible enough (at 26-years-old) to not only move to the other side of the world by myself, but know the power of having a back-up plan. For months I saved for a down payment on a nice one-bedroom, signed the contract, found tenants and hopped on the first flight to the Big Apple!
Dow Jones of Tha Bizness – Music Producer (Drake, Jeezy, G-Unit, Young Money, Ne-Yo), Age 29
I had always been raised to make the most of every opportunity, but I was also hard-headed. The point in my life that changed it for me was a few days before my 21st birthday. My father unexpectedly passed, and from that moment on I knew it was my responsibility to provide for my mother and sister. Even though I was still figuring out the music game and was at an entry level, it made me out-work everybody else. From a lot of times in life, tragedy brings triumph. I didn’t want to let the legacy die in my hands, so I envisioned myself being a success.
I also got schooled from the ground up from my big brother DJ DV One. From carrying his crates and setting up equipment, I learned that respect is earned and not bought, and that majority of the time things are not what they appear to be. You should do things for the genuine love you have for them, rather than flaunting your “worth” to others, only to realize that your short-term wins will not last long if you don’t have a long-term plan for success and the ability to adapt.
Queen Latifah – Artist/Actress/Model, Age 40
I was the type of girl who fell on my face early. I learned how it felt to get rejected and get back up to dust yourself off. I knew what it was to go out there, be nervous, give it your all, find your way to work through it. I found my way early in life – but putting yourself out there, facing your fears and realizing you can overcome them is very important. Realizing you can make mistakes and survive them is important. People hold themselves to timelines of what they have to achieve by certain ages.
I never wanted to have a 9-to-5 in my entire life… I don’t knock people who have a 9 to 5 I just knew I wasn’t that girl. I knew I wasn’t just the typical person, and then I met a guy that got that [Shakim of Flavor Unit]. As teenagers we had visions for things that were great – we would sit together and build for hours where a lot of our friends were out partying. We didn’t realize we were kids, we just thought we were on our way.
DJ Irie – DJ for Miami Heat & Jamie Foxx; Celebrity Event Host; Philanthropist, Age 34
Drinking!! In 2009 at Rehab in Las Vegas, then partying at Drai’s all night… I used to be able to party all day and drink all night and be up at the crack of dawn the next day ready to do it all over again… those days are OVER! Now it’s all about “pacing” myself. I know how many I can do before I have to succumb to being a zombie for an entire 24 hours post drinking. That ‘party all day and drink all night’ stuff is for the kids! My ass is grown now – I can’t afford be all hungover in bed for a whole day!
TQ – Artist; Actor, Age 33
I think it was like 2000. I had a stalker who had reached a boiling point and was determined to drive her car through my front door. I grabbed my shotgun and started blasting in the air from the steps. That didn’t seem to scare her. She drove onto my lawn and started kicking wheels and f*ckin up my grass. That’s when I went into fool mode and grabbed my handgun. It happened to be a Desert Eagle, and I think she caught my drift… She backed up and tries to drive away but “Mr. T Dumbass Q” chases the car down the street shooting like he’s Clint Eastwood or somebody…
The girl’s car rolled to a stop at the end of my cul de sac, and I have this sick feeling in my stomach… I swear I’m thinking, “Why didn’t I just call the cops? What if I hit this broad?” I walked back into my house and saw my boy at the door out of breath . He had called 911 after running behind me picking up shells (thank God). Just so happened that the chick was ducking in the car on the phone with the cops, and they’re on their way already. Next thing I hear, the Ghetto Bird has come to the hills and they got the spotlite on my crib. “TQ come out with your hands up”… Embarrassing. Needless to say, the one thought that stayed in my head from jail was simple and plain. “It’s time to stop acting stupid.”
If you have your own “adult reality check” story, please share in the comments!