Memoirs are all about letting the reader into the memories an author has of a particular event; it is basically a chance for the reader to get to know the man or woman behind the words and pen. So for this memoir, I have decided to give a sneak peek into the psyche of Kwame Kennedy(me). Enjoy.
This is just a really good picture of me :)
There are three central beliefs that I try and live my life by. These beliefs have been shaped by the countless life lessons I have been taught in life.
My first belief is that in life, people must have empathy. Empathy is essential to going through life and having peaceful relationships with people. When I was young I would boast of how good I was without a care in the world of how condescending I was. If you made a mistake I would make fun of you for it and say “Ha you didn't get it right.”. People said I was mean, but I did not understand why until after middle school; it was then that I realized I hurt people’s feelings. Ever since that epiphany, I vowed to build people up instead of tearing them down. In order to make sure I would build people up, I learned the art of being considerate to others; I gave compliments when people needed them instead of harsh and brutal critcism. As a result , I have become a better person--all thanks to empathy.
My second belief is that there is nothing to fear. For a long time in my youth, I was consumed with fear. I was scared of what would happen when I died and what lurked in the dark. I could not even watch the Goosebumps TV show with the rest of the class. I could never sleep without keeping the lights on. But one day I realized that I could sleep better without the light on--and nothing happened to me with the light off. After that, I realized there was nothing to fear and that most of the fears I had were just my own worries and machinations. As a result, I became brave and virtually fearless. Whenever I became afraid, I would tell myself that there was nothing to fear.
My final belief is that I should always stick to my guns. As I grew up, I heard a lot of ideas that conflicted with my beliefs. I always wondered whether I was wrong and who I was to assert that I was right. For example, with Christianity, there were several times where I questioned my faith out of fear that the entire religion was just a sham or some invention of older generations. Eventually I realized that in order to succeed in life and be a good Christian, I had to stand by my beliefs and not allowed myself to be easily swayed. With time, I strengthened my beliefs and became . Now, I know that I have to stand by who I am; otherwise, I would be at risk of becoming someone I am not.
Each of these beliefs has come to define who I am at heart: a kind,fearless, and stalwart person. With these beliefs I have be able to better define who I am; with these beliefs I am Kwame Kennedy.
A picture of me skateboarding back in late 2012
One of the most defining moments of my life is when I learned how to skateboard. Overcoming the challenge I experienced learning how to skateboard helped teach me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned... ...Never give up.
I remember the week before I got my first skateboard.
It was May 2012 and I had PASS testing for the entire week since I was in sixth grade. I was supposed to be concentrating in my studies and the long pink tests in front of me but all I could think about was how cool I would be riding around on my skateboard, kicking ollies and grinding on rails. The tests days crawled by slowly until finally- oh finally- it was my birthday.
Time to skate.
It was dark outside when I finally got to unwrap my skateboard but after all the anticipation, I was not about to let that stop me. I told my mom and dad that I was going to go ride in the little space there was between the cars in the garage. I went into the garage and eagerly strapped on my helmet, knee pads, and shoulder pads. My little brother, Justin, followed me into the garage to watch. I took a good look at my skateboard first as I prepared myself to skate; on the bottom there was a green picture with some sort of skull city while the top of the skateboard was black.
When I was finally ready, I summoned my courage, jumped on the skateboard…
...then immediately fell on my butt.
“ Ow. Hey do you wanna try?” I asked my little brother while rubbing my injured backside.
“ Nah I’m not touching that.” He said and immediately went inside, dissuaded from skateboarding for the foreseeable future.
Hitting the ground on the first try greatly curbed my enthusiasm and I decided to give the skateboard a second try tomorrow. So the next day, at about 11 in the morning, I ventured outside on my skateboard for my second try. Surprisingly--to me at least-- my second try did not fare much better and after an initial push I lost my balance and barely managed to not fall. It was at this point, I realized that learning how to skateboard was going to be no cakewalk.
But I was not deterred.
Now the main problem I had with the skateboarding was how I was with how I placed my left foot. See, the way skateboarding works is that you keep your dominant foot near the front end of the skateboard while you take your non-dominant foot and push it off the ground in order to move the board; after you push your non-dominant foot off the ground, you have to quickly place your foot on the skateboard towards the tail end of the board. My problem was that I kept putting my non-dominant (left foot in my case) foot directly on the tail end of the board instead of just near it; that action was a problem because the force of me putting my foot on the end of the board causes the board to pop a wheelie abruptly and basically throw you off the board.
Unfortunately, I did not figure this out until a week later. As a result I spent the rest of the day and that week struggling and hitting the ground. But I never gave up. I went outside every afternoon and I skateboarded--or at least tried to-- for a hour on our sloped driveway. I gradually conditioned myself to put my left foot away from the tail end and slowly went from going up and down the driveway in little spurts to going without stopping once. This transition took months of falling and scraping my legs and hands. But I did it. And not once did I give up.
A year later, I stood on my skateboard and smiled at the driveway; I wore only a helmet since I did not need the pads anymore. My brother was standing nearby with a skateboard of his own; after months of watching me conquer the board, he had decided to give it a try. I guess once he saw it was possible, my brother became a little more willing to try.
“ Alright little bro, you ready for this?” I asked.
“ I guess so.” He answered with a nervous smile.
I grinned pushed off the ground and went up and down the driveway in a blur, turning and moving like a pro skater; my brother gasped in awe as I showed him how to skate. It had taken a lot longer than I thought it would but those dreams from last year had come true. I had finally become an awesome skateboarder.
A picture of me at the end of middle shcool
Safe and Sound (by Capital Cities)
What does a nice song have to do with the mind of Kwame Kennedy, you ask? Everything. It's the song that really got me into music and helped me grow and cope with life--hence why it is perfect for this sneak peek of me.
“ Saaaaaafe and Soooound
Hold your Ground
Saaaaaafe and Soooound”
Those lyrics above comes from one of my favorite songs of all time--Safe and Sound by Capital Cities. Those lyrics were the words that stayed on my mind through 7th and 8th grade. I remember singing it almost all the time without relent; I just could not stop. Everyday after school since the song came out in early 2013, I would come home after a stressful school day, go straight to Youtube, and look up the video for the song. Then I would just sit back and let the words of the song just wash over me or let it jolt me out of my seat to start dancing.
At the time, I thought I just listened to the song because it was so catchy. But it was only after listening to the song after a long hiatus of not listening to it, I realized what the song meant to me. This realization came to me when I was watching a car commercial; they were talking about the car being somewhat fireproof or something and they had the song playing in the background. I thought about why they picked that song and I decided they picked that song so people would associate the car with being safe. That’s when it hit me; I liked--no loved-- the song because it made me feel safe and sound.
You see, when the song came out, I had become increasingly insecure and upset due to troubles in middle school. As a result, I was almost always stressed. Then enter “Safe and Sound”; the song had such a soothing and upbeat melody. When I heard the melody, the song instantly made me feel better like everything would be okay. After listening to the song once, I automatically felt like I could handle whatever the world was sending my way. With that effect, it is no surprise I kept coming back to listen to it again.
As of right now, I do not really listen to that song anymore. If I had to guess why, it would say it is because after listening to that song for so long, the feeling of being safe stayed with me; maybe on some level, that song has given me all the emotional support I needed so I no longer needed it. But in any case, “Safe and Sound” will always be one of my favorite songs of all time because it always makes me feel better about being me.
You may be wondering why I chose to end this wonderful memoir with my thoughts on my favorite song. I mean, wouldn't I want to end with a more personal experience that would give you a bigger insight into my life? Well, here's the thing: I am not a very personal guy. I do not like to spill out all my personal feelings for the world to see--I just can't do it. All I can do is tell you who I am.
I am Kwame Kennedy- a guy who is just trying to do right by himself, his family, and by his God. I never give up on anything, I don't have any fears, I stick by what I believe in and my favorite song is Safe and Sound. At the end of the day, that's really all I am.
Now I know you probably wanted to know more about me but hey, it's like I said in the beginning, this is a sneak peek into the mind of Kwame Kennedy--not a grand opening.