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Living in gray – the beauty of being yourself – JestFreeman

Life and the world as we all know has many colors, faces, and sides. Love, peace, anger, sadness, greed, war etc… are few examples of the many events and feelings life has shown us all one way or another.

Well, for whoever is reading this, my alias is Jest Freeman. It originated from my friends asking me if we were to do anything big, what would be my alias. I couldn’t think of anything, but Just Free, which seemed perfect to me because my name is Jestin.

I am a black, Afro-Latino. Son of two immigrants from the Dominican Republic. The first of my siblings and bloodline to be born in the United States. The world, as well as my life, started showing their many colors, faces and sides, at an early age. I was growing up in my hometown, as a young boy, New York City.

Life showed me at an early age that the world can be maniacal, lonely and enticing.  Although, as a young boy, I’ve always lived with siblings. Our age gap was the hindrance that kept me from playing with them a lot, according to them. Despite that, I’ve always found happiness finding and doing my own thing to do. whether it’s watching TV or playing marbles. Being the youngest growing up in America my Spanish was astonishingly horrific. No one held back on letting me know.

Whether it was jokes and teases to being scolded for speaking in English so much. At an early age I thankfully had a stubbornness that would only let it get me mad but not affect me. So even at family gatherings I was in my own world of gray, inviting people in and out of it. I didn’t mind the jokes or scolding, because they truly were funny and genuine.

Then at school it’s either I’m that Latino guy, too Latino, or too black. Little did I know the jokes and scolding and the picking and choosing would have more of an effect than I believed. Whenever I would speak Spanish, I would be low voiced, shy, and timid. Or speak very slow, so the person would understand. When I spoke English, I would speak strong, loud, and clear. So no one will question or analyze me. as a kid, I started to consider that Spanish was not for me and not care so much for it.

That was when I figured out I was living in a gray world. I didn’t have any objections. I could freely be myself with little Interruptions. Few years into my adolescence, my mother, brother, sister and me moved to an apartment in queens. I would quickly call it home for nearly a decade. One summer when I was 12, there were many events taking place in my life. This pushed my mother to the edge and moved us to Worcester Massachusetts.

Now as a young teen finding himself to drastically move to this new city, knowing only his 3 cousins was a lot to handle. The very first day at my new school, I walk into my first class. The teacher seats me next to a Latino kid, and he smugly whispers loudly this damn monkey. I’m Spanish, of course I retaliated with a pun of my own. Then later on that day, 2 girls were talking about how I’m not that black and mostly looked Latino.

At the time, I was confused, so I jumped back into my world of gray. I started doing things just myself. Until I started to find people with the same passion and Interest in life, as I did. But I didn’t find those people immediately. I stayed in my own world. I did what excited my mind and heart. Until, people with the same ambition, goals, and passion as me came around my life.

I’m a 21-year-old man. One, who’s had more downs than up, in his life. Despite all that, I’ve always smiled. Made others smile too. With all the peer pressure life brings, I’ve always been able to live in gray. And not be a sheep. Meaning, I do not follow. Nor will I be blindly guided. Thanks to my mother and family. I know that there’s always a choice.

I hope after this read, you will have the to courage to be yourself. Courage to find out what you truly love to do. courage to want to live. Before you dive in and tap into who you truly are, I would love to share 2 of some of my favorite inspirational quotes:

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”  (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

“Always be yourself and have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and try to duplicate it.” — Bruce Lee

Connect with JestFreeman

Instagram: @jestfreeman


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