Award-winning, Ottawa-based francophone rapper LeFLOFRANCO shares about the inner turmoil he experienced in 2021 and how it got better “one day at a time”. Republished with permission from the author.

2021, you were absolutely grueling. You dimmed my light. You reduced my laughter and my smiles. You took away the “funner” person I can be. You took away my “joie de vivre” and replaced it with an overwhelming feeling of constantly being under pressure. Despite the fact that I know that I’m lucky enough to live everyday with my life partner and my little gem―to be able to connect with my family, my friends and colleaguesyou still managed to make me bottle things inside and feel deeply alone. You managed to take me to dark place―to a place where, for the first time in my life, I actually considered calling it quits and taking my life because shit would actually be much easier. But somehow I was able to remember that I am not one with my thoughts so I was able to watch that thought (and the emotions that came with it) and let it go.

Now, you may ask yourself, “How does a person, who is clearly aware of how lucky they are to have so many people around them, not open up to his people and ask for help?” It’s fucked up. I know. But the thing is, even though one may know something in the moment, emotions and thoughts can still get the best of them because at the end of the day, they are only human.

In my case, 2021 sums itself to fight or flight; a place I know fairly too well due to growing up with a single mother who was strong on the “Do not show any signs of weakness” school of thought. Thus, because I recognized that in both my personal and professional life a lot of important people depended on me for various important thingsoften due at the same damn time naturally, I entered fight mode. And so, in this mode, there was no room and no time for my so-called wants, needs and feelings. There was no time nor space for me to be vulnerable. I had to just push through, keep going and deliver. The idea here was “Fuck your feelings, shut up, take things on and do what’s expected of you cause it’s simply not about you right now. And it’s not going to be about you for a while now.” So I did just that, even if I found myself running on empty and wanting to call it quits.

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Award-winning, Ottawa-based francophone rapper LeFLOFRANCO

Luckily for me, very few times I opened up. The majority of the time I kept shit to myself because I’m still stuck in that “be a man and show no weakness” mentality I grew up with and because I feel like asking for help can be a nuisance and I truly don’t want to bother my people with my problems. But they’re my people though so I shouldn’t feel that way, right?

So while keeping quiet, as an artist I often turned to music and writing which did help a bit. But what I think truly helped me more than anything was this one thought I constantly held on to. “Be HERE, be in THIS moment only. Now is all there is and it’s what matters most.”

That thought was like my personal ray of light in the dark space I lived in. The old classic “just focus on one thing at a time” thought is what actually kept me going. And because of that right there, when I look back at 2021, I can smile just a little bit.

Now that the year is coming to an end, as I look back I can see that things are now significantly better than earlier in the year, although they still aren’t exactly where I’d like them to be. I still feel under pressure quite a lot (both personally and professionally) and from time to time, I still feel deeply alone, but remembering to be in the moment, to take it a task at a time, one day at a time continues to help. I am also remembering to work more and more towards understanding my limits, asking for help and making it a point to spend quality time with my people more often and allowing myself to be more vulnerable with them.

So to you who share the same struggles, who often looks great on the outside but feel horrible and dead on the inside, I say this (also as a reminder to myself),  “It’s okay to be vulnerable and open the fuck up! You’re allowed to not be able to do everything on your own. You’re allowed to seek help. You’re allowed to be vulnerable. You’re allowed to want to talk about shit that affects you and how it makes you feel inside. This does not make you a weak person, Au contraire, it shows great strength and it means that you choose a healthier life for yourself.

Please trust your circle and let it all out. Let them have it and let them show up for you as you show up for them, because to value yourself, your health and your mental health does not make you a selfish person. It makes you a wise person who recognizes that they’re just as important as the people they’re in fight mode for. Wanting to fight for others but not for yourself makes no sense, right? So for your own sake and for the sake of our loved ones, let’s normalize moments of “weakness”. Be shameless and put you first. Love yourself always, in all ways.

LeFLOFRANCO is an award-winning, Ottawa-based francophone rapper

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