It seems like no matter where I go people are unwilling to be themselves. I have thought critically for years about why people are unwilling to be themselves and arrived at two dominant reasons: they lack courage and have unsatisficatory self-esteem. This lack of courage and satisificatory self-esteem has caused many people their chances at great success. While growing up in elementary, middle, and high school in Monticello, Georgia, some of my good friends who had opportunities to be great talents and college educated failed by the wayside because they lacked the courage and healthy self-esteem to combat peer pressure. They were unwiling to fight against the peer pressure that dared them to be different. Some of my Black male friends (while growing in Monticello, Georgia) resolved that getting good grades made you gay, so they elected to devote themselves to the “thug life” instead. I still love them very much and am not bashing them. I just wanted better for them and still do. Anyone who knows me well understands that I will do anything to help anyone, so don’t think that I’m being elitist at all!
While going to school in Albany, Georgia at Albany State University, I found that even college students lacked courage and satificatory self-esteem. Because some of them lacked the courage to resist not being “cool,” they flunked out of school. While attending the University of Arkansas, I saw how the lack of courage and satisificatory self-esteem caused some people to simply hate me because I had the willingness to be courageous enough to be myself. Guess what? I loved them then and love them now. See life is about loving one another. We often have to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse people to make them better. This is what I do. It’s a tough job and is often misunderstood and mischaracterized but it’s an essential job for the betterment of human beings.
Since I have been here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a little over a year, I have been amazed at how unwilling people are to be themselves. Of course, my past experiences have taught me that many people lack a willingness to be themselves, but I have never witnessed how vexing this problem is until coming to Madison, Wisconsin. While here, I have experienced a person who de-friended me simply because she is miserable that she is unattractive and has not been able to get any man to pay her any attention in Madison, Wisconsin. I have also witnessed people who have betrayed me because they are envious and jealous of me. People have violated state and federal laws to try to undermine and prevent me from achieving some things while I have been here, because they are simply unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused by how completely happy I am to just be me. Guess what? I love them!
University of Wisconsin-Madison has given me the opportunity to see like never before the tremendous posturing, posing, lying, and masquearading people are willing to engage in just to hide who they reallly are. I have seen men who have demonstrated that they like other men, but will go to extremes just to prove to people they are not gay. I have also witnessed men who have been and are engaged in relationships with other women just so no one will call them gay. I have witnessed people with Ph.Ds who are jealous and envious of graduate students because they are about to graduate from an institution far more prestigious than the ones in which they graduated. How pathetic! Unlock the chains of bondage that you have placed on yourself!
If you are not willing to live free, then why want you just save yourself a whole lot of misery and just die? If you would think about it, when you are not willing to live your life freely, you are actually dead anyway.
It has to be a miserable life to worry about what other people are saying about you. It has to be a miserable life to try to live your life like others would have you to live it. It has to be a miserable life to pretend to be something you’re not. It has to be a miserable life to be gay and pretend to be straight. It has to be a miserable life to get a woman pregnant while having sex with men locally and across the country. It has to be a miserable life to feel like you’re unattractive and undesirable. It has to be a miserable life to know that you love your girlfriend or wife, but you don’t have the courage and self-esteem to resist the pressure of maintaining a “player” status. It has to be a miserable life to know that no one in your academic department likes you after you have tirelessly tried to be everyone’s friend. Guess what? I love you. I hope my love gives you a bit optimism.
Dare to be yourself! Dare to be free! Dare to fight peer pressure! Dare to combat low self-esteem! Dare to be courageous! Guess what? I love you all!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison