I was recently able to see the inevitable summer blockbuster, “Straight Outta Compton,” and I was immediately motivated to share some of the big-picture ideas this amazing movie conveyed.
While many will have mixed feelings about the flick stemming from the controversial group’s past, I’m hoping I will make it clear there are some serious life lessons to learn from this film.
They did my city proud.
1. Stay loyal to those who deserve it...
Our loyalty to one another is tested every day.
Things like money, notoriety or the chance of a “come-up” quite often cause strife between friends and family.
None of us can make it on our own, and it’s important to remain loyal to those who helped you get to where you are. There’s nothing like taking the ride of your life with the people who genuinely have your best interest at heart.
2. But be aware of leeches and opportunists.
While we should never forget where we come from, it’s a cold, hard fact that not everyone in your life is meant to be there forever.
Unfortunately, there will always be some people, even some of your oldest friends, who hang around for all the wrong reasons. Learn to distinguish between those who deserve your loyalty and those who are taking advantage of your situation.
3. Follow your instincts.
We often allow outside influences to affect our decision-making, when the true answers lie within. When your gut is telling you something, listen.
You may be the only one around who sees things for what they really are. And while it may be difficult to stand alone — especially when it could end business relationships or friendships — you have to learn to trust yourself.
4. Speak your truth.
Freedom of speech is precious. Even when the truth is blatantly clear, young people are told they don’t know enough to have an opinion worth sharing, or that their feelings are a result of misunderstanding or plain, youthful ignorance.
Speak up and fight anyway. The only way for our voices to be heard is to continue standing up for what we believe in. Use your voice to spark change, and then get out there and make that change happen.
You always will be confronted by an opposition. While you may not be willing to sacrifice your life, the act of speaking up alone is enough to spark the minds of others.
It will make a huge difference in the long run.
5. Family over everything.
At times, our friends can feel as close, if not closer, to us than our own family members.
It’s important to remember, however, that while we choose our friends, family will be there for life. There’s nothing worse than getting a call that your cousin you once had problems with, or your little brother you brushed off, is in serious trouble.
Call your cousin right now; hang out with little bro. Sit down and have dinner with your parents and grandparents from time to time.
One day, they won’t be around, and you’ll wish you had more time with them.
6. Don’t be afraid of change.
The only constant in life is change.
Everything has a season, and it can be difficult to accept that it may be time to move on to something new.
Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try something new. The world will try to pigeon-hole you based on some preconceived notion of what you “should” become, so don't place those shackles on yourself.
Explore your talents; diversify your portfolio. When a situation has clearly run its course, find the strength to let it go.
7. Make your health a priority.
In a world of sketchy health coverage, it’s easy to place your health on the back burner.
We tell ourselves our bodies will heal themselves. We say it’s just cold; it’s just a small pain, and it's nothing a few Motrin can’t handle. And then, we get back to living our lives.
While there’s no need to turn into a hypochondriac, please remember to put your health first. We all run through life at such a rapid pace that sometimes, we have to make a conscious effort to ask, “Am I really okay?”
Don’t ignore the signs; don’t ignore the pain. By telling yourself, “I’ll address it later,” you only increase the chance your issue will get worse and worse, even to the point of no recovery.
Don’t risk it. Your life is worth more than any paper you’re chasing, or plans you’ve made.
Also, wrap it up every time.
8. Learn to forgive.
Life is simply too short to hold on to bitterness, anger and resentment.
While you may not be able to let something go immediately, it’s important to learn how to forgive people for what they’ve done. You also have to take responsibility for your own actions.
Holding a grudge doesn't benefit anyone involved. And if you’re dealing with a friend in particular, life has a funny way of making you see the light once it’s too late.
Don’t waste energy on the past mistakes of others. That doesn’t mean you shouldn't learn from the experience, but there’s really no point in keeping that negative energy bottled up.
Breathe, forgive and move forward.
9. Work hard; play hard.
We all need a break from the bullsh*t sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with letting loose from time to time in order to escape.
Just make sure you know how to balance the turn-up with some actual work. Leave your mark on this world while pursuing your goals; it makes the victory that much sweeter.
10. Dream big.
Privilege is a real thing that many people have over others. Whether it’s white privilege, wealth privilege or gender privilege, it’s all real, and we need to be honest about that.
However, it’s been proven time and time again that your current circumstances, no matter how much of an underdog you are, should not dictate your future.
Yes, it will come easier for some, but we all can reach our goals, no matter how lavish, extravagant or seemingly farfetched.
Faith in yourself and the work ethic to back it up will help you get there. The bigger the dream, the more you need to hustle. It will be a tough path, and there are no guarantees in life. But, in my humble opinion, none of us, absolutely none of us, should settle for mediocrity.
Dream big, then wake up, and make that dream a reality.