I just want to thank Erykah Badu for speaking something we all feel too often.
Music: It speaks when we are not allowed to put our feelings into words. It comforts us in times of sorrow and sadness. Makes us feel rejuvenated on Monday mornings before that 8 a.m. begins. But I cannot help but wonder why there has been no songs or clever lines by my favorite artists to help me get out of this funk. Since starting college, I have all too often felt alone. Too alone. Everywhere I went. Casually watching people from this window seat become something great—expand into beautiful, radiant, and personable people. But if I’m so happy for everyone, why haven’t I been feeling happy for myself? I’m getting things done, flourishing, look y’all, my skin even clearing up… so why haven’t I been able to shout to the rooftop?
It wasn’t until I was doing homework for my summer class last week while listening to Mama Badu, that a song I never payed attention to started to play. Window Seat. The lines “I need you next to me. I need someone to clap for me. I need your direction. Somebody say come back.” rang in my ears for days. I couldn’t get this song out of my head and it annoyed me. Through the long months of not being social my first year in college, I fell into a deep depression. Too damn deep. I had family, friends, and even had my boyfriend but I still felt alone. I could be in a room filled with people talking, listening, engaging, and I felt empty. I felt nothing. I felt like no matter what I said to anyone, it wasn’t important for some reason. The words that came out of my mouth felt insignificant and hollow. I would express feelings of being lonely to everyone around me, feelings of dejection, misery, and so much more. And like Badu says in Window Seat, “[I] Don’t want nobody next to me, I just want a chance to fly. A chance to cry…” but I knew that mindset wouldn’t get me anywhere. Hell, I ain’t Badu. I ain’t nobody.
My depression soon became worse second semester and this time I knew I would not be able to get out of it alone. So, I started to reach out more (something I read on the internet that was supposed to help me; *hint hint* it didn’t help y’all)—to family and friends mostly. But every time I tried, they were busy. It started with no replies to texts and then getting sent to voicemail at night when I knew they were off work. I wasn’t sure what I had done or if everyone forgot about me since I went off to school. No one reached out, no one responded, everyone I so desperately wanted to confide in were just “busy”.
*DISCLAIMER—personal story here*
I couldn’t take feeling isolated anymore. I had no friends at Mizzou, my family was too busy to talk to me, and my friends were hundreds and thousands of miles away. After an argument with my boyfriend (about something so silly I can’t even remember what it was about), I locked myself in the bathroom and texted one of my sisters: Convince me not to kill myself. I waited on her to reply and after five or so minutes she responded. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint where these feelings had come from or why I was feeling them, so I had no explanation for her when she asked what was wrong with me…
I won’t get into details or anything because my first year at Mizzou was a rough patch but my point is, listening to this one song months later helped me realize that I wanted validation from everyone in my life, to feel important or feel like I mattered to everyone I knew. But they had lives too. Why couldn’t I grasp that? I had to physically hear from them. And when I didn’t for so long, my mind became jumbled. My thoughts were scrambled and I started stress-eating and locking myself in the bathroom for hours to just cry every night. I listened to Badu’s lyrics and “but I need you to miss me, need somebody to come get me” spoke to me just a week ago. I needed someone and no was there for me. No one cared or reached out. No one bothered to ask. My depression became so bad that I was prepared to end it all after class one day. Shortly after watching television in the Gaines Oldham Black Cultural Center (GOBCC or the BCC) getting ready to leave, prepared to say my final goodbyes to my family and boyfriend that same day, a simple “Hello” from student staffer caught my attention. He started a small conversation with me and I felt noticed. I felt special because someone (besides my boyfriend) was finally speaking to me after MONTHS. He made my week…not my day, but my week because he was simply just speaking to me. Crazy right? A simple hello.
So, I write this to let you all know that small things go a long way. Answered text messages, simple phone calls, and basic greetings—they ALL go a long way. Too many days I have felt myself at a window seat, casually glancing out and seeing everyone just live and I want that. I need that. Thank you all for listening to me and reading this. And remember, to check on your friends, family, and even strangers that you pass by. You could potentially change their life without even realizing it.
To the guy who spoke to me in the BCC, you may not have even realized, but you kept me from leaving this world that day and I pray for your success and well-being every day because of that. Thank you.