The Unmasking of Potential
Since the inception of The Outkast Academy, one of our deeply rooted beliefs has been that each individual has been made unique. Given specific, special characteristics and talents meant to set each one of us apart. Not by chance or to simply go unnoticed and unrealized, but to be developed and illuminated for a larger purpose.
"...each individual has been made unique."
We see this understanding of uniqueness and self-development being discouraged and even suffocated by mainstream voices, artists, social circles, peers and movements (i.e. masculinity and modesty). The outsourced, outside pressure would be enough even for the most seasoned adventurer to reconsider the journey. By simultaneously adding the internal questioning of our own anxieties and doubts, the fear of being rejected, outcasted or forgotten, it’s no wonder how so many youth have buckled at even the thought of beginning the path of self-discovery.
It seems incredibly daunting!
Why Do We Shut Down?
The idea that we must fit into a larger group and that our own purpose driven individuality should take a back seat to communal betterment and identity seems like a safe and attractive option.
Though I believe it is misguided if not well-intentioned.
It’s not that we don’t believe in community; it’s exactly the opposite. We desire to grow community leaders that will help to lift up, encourage and inspire those who are disadvantaged and underserved. At Outkast we structure our programs in a way that increases social interaction among peers and leaders. Free thinking forums exist where a confluence of ideas are allowed to forge deeper thought, giving way to a broader perspective into who we are while striving to be at our best. This type of revolving door platform doesn’t allow for stagnation or comfortability to gain a hold on the individual development of each youth. The relationships built and curated at Outkast can only excel when each youth makes the choice to be transparent with their current situation and maintain individual accountability when they go home for the day.
For any chain to remain strong each link must be forged individually. One weak link and the whole chain breaks down.
Unmasking, Despite the Cost
This all leads me into my closing thought in which I hope we all can consider before we give in to the struggle that comes along with finding our self or our own inclination to tow the company line of popular opinion.
Imagine walking into an office full of cubicles. Each person in their own space typing away in a seemingly rhythmic fashion. With each person dressed relative to the overall theme. Nothing out of the ordinary standing out. Your eye isn’t gravitating or veering towards any one individual in any given direction.
Then, you notice a name tag which reads “Clark Kent”. A relatively plain name. Certainly not a name that pops off the page, garnering any type of attention. Matter of fact, it illicits no response that greatness, awe or wonder is a possibility. Yet waiting to be seen, discovered and exercised is the fullness of his potential... Superman!!!
Clark Kent was simply a moniker of deception to hide his true identity (potential). If Superman had decided to, he could have avoided any type of conflict by staying hidden within the group--tucked away in his cubicle living out his life in relative obscurity. But he didn’t! He revealed himself to the world at great cost and reward. Some labeled him a hero and others a vigilante. If he would have allowed the possibility of being ridiculed or ostracized hold him back, many would have lost their lives and their inspiration to dream bigger. Superman didn’t only elevate his own existence, he transformed the world around.
Now, I know that Superman is a fictional character and this is a romancing of the idea of heroism but the premise still holds true. We won’t truly find ourselves and live to see our greatest purpose, benefitting the whole of our community and world, if comfort is the determining factor in discovering our identity and realizing our potential. Our potential can be forged or forgotten. It's all dependent upon our tolerance to the heat of the moment.
There is always risk in umasking our true idenity but the reward, when discovered, not only out weighs the risk but also benefits the world!
The super in you is there... let it fly!!!