You're A Genius: 4 Ways To Find Your Brilliance Just Like Basquiat

by Zahra Thomas
Arthouse Films

Like Kid Cudi said, "I never gave a f*ck, I never gave a f*ck about what [people] thought about me. I mean I did, but like f*ck it."

Judging by Basquiat's hairstyles and the basis of his work, he didn't either and now, his paintings are sold for millions of dollars.

As I strutted — yes, strutted — through the Art Gallery of Ontario to view the exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, my mind began to wander. Basquiat, like so many other artists, represents fearless expression.

Well, I’m sure fear did exist, but it wasn't enough to stop the art.

I have always been drawn to artists, inventors, engineers and philosophers.

I’m motivated by their willingness to look completely ridiculous, be entirely vulnerable and invite scrutiny and criticism.

And hey, they also have the rest of the world calling them brilliant later.

You're Multitalented, Embrace It

If you have many interests and you're gifted in several different areas, you are multitalented. Embrace it. Basquiat was a painter, musician, producer and social activist.

Throughout my journey of self-exploration, I discovered I have many talents. I used to feel guilty about this, and I was hesitant to express myself through these talents.

People usually perceive it as arrogance or indecisiveness, but who cares what people think? Our inner genius is at stake!

Nothing compares to the feeling I got when I performed a lead role in a New York production, posed for my first campaign, wrote and recorded my first song, planned and executed an event at Nike, won my first championship race, sold my first T-shirt idea, launched my first website or pitched my first business idea to a group of investors. I'm constantly exploring my talents, learning and evolving.

For a while, I felt frustrated. I couldn't decide which road to take. I have all these abilities, but how could I integrate them all?

James Cameron managed to do it with "Titanic" and "Avatar." He's a film director, film producer, screenwriter, editor, inventor, engineer, philanthropist and deep-sea explorer. I'm confident it will click for me sooner rather than later.

I just have to do whatever is in my heart without overanalyzing it and let the pieces fall together. The real challenge is having the time and opportunity to cultivate, develop and hone your gifts.

Become Childlike

I'm constantly trying to return to a childlike state of being; it's a state of being where anything is possible and we can strive to be astronauts and superheroes without hesitation.

It perfectly explains why I still get so excited for Disney and Sci-Fi movies.

The only way to uncover one's brilliance is to become childlike and adopt that same sort of freedom. Children are always fully present in the now.

They aren't thinking about yesterday or tomorrow; their focus is grounded and without limitation. Somehow, Basquiat managed to hold onto that freedom, and it paid off.

Become inquisitive, try new things, make mistakes and don't care what people say. People will stare, and they might even laugh at first. Just remember they only wish they could be half as brave as you are.

Be Picky

For a time, Basquiat’s love interest was Madonna, one of the world's most iconic artists.

Developing relationships with people who mirror the greatness you possess is key when exploring your inner brilliance.

Most of my love interests were athletic nerds — abnormally intelligent people who are active and competitive with unconventional ways of thinking.

Basquiat was a champion in his own right. He made many of his subjects Olympic track and field athletes, championship boxers, great musicians, notable writers, etc.

He surrounded himself with these people and identified with their desire to be the best in their desired fields, which elevated and inspired his craft.

Be meticulous about the company you keep. The people you surround yourself with can hinder or enhance your brilliance.


So, you’re telling me life consists of picking one major, graduating, then sitting in a cubicle for eight hours a day until retirement? Okay, right.

Throughout my year or so of de-programming (stripping myself of Westernized ideologies), I discovered that my circumstances — namely my profession — do not determine nor define my value.

Rather, fulfilling my purpose and being able to execute and share my gifts with the world is what truly makes life worth living.

The issue arises when “the powers that be” aim to simplify people, put them in categories and ultimately, limit their capabilities.

Now, that can make a right-brained person go nuts! You can’t sum Basquiat up in one word, and they can't sum you up in one word. It’s just impossible.

If Basquiat had listened to society tell him a young black male from the streets wouldn't pioneer the art world, he wouldn't have the legacy he does. In short, don't let the world label you; make that sh*t up yourself.

The greater conclusion I come to every day is that in everything I do, in whatever medium God decides to exercise me in, my goal — without a doubt — is to push humanity forward.

We all have our own formulas of amazingness. We’re all so complex and detailed, but a majority of us fail to put in the time and effort necessary to discover our individual truths, put the pieces together and make sense of it all.

It's mainly out of fear of failure or other people’s opinions. The hardest thing in this world is just to be yourself, but when you master that, the world is yours. Be brilliant.