When I was growing up, my father was in and out of jail. The last time he left, he didn’t go alone. He took my mom with him.
He attacked my mom in the shower. Then, he drove us to a relative’s house and left us there. The next day we saw the newspaper with his mugshot and quote on the front page: “I killed my wife.”
I was nine years old. Suddenly, my siblings and I were on our own. My brother was twelve and my sister was seven.
The situation was devastating. I was a momma’s boy, and she was my everything. I always knew that if I had just a fraction of her heart, I could be amazing. But I remembered what she always used to tell me: “Have a positive attitude, and look for opportunities in every situation, even when it seems like there aren’t any.”
So that’s exactly what I did.
I vowed to shoot for the stars, because no matter where I ended up, I would know that I had tried my best
It started with wanting to do great in school, which turned into formal leadership in the student government. When high school came, I was smaller than most kids, and I was bullied. When I was older, I wanted to make sure that nobody got bullied the way I did.
I fell in love with making music when I was in elementary school. I wanted to rap and go to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, but almost everyone thought these were unattainable goals for me. I vowed to shoot for the stars, because no matter where I ended up, I would know that I had tried my best.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school—it turned out that people had been wrong about me. My classmates knew the words to my songs and came to my performances. I was elected student body president because I didn’t stand for bullying. I graduated as valedictorian of my class.
And then I got accepted to Wharton.
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If there was one thing I wanted to do in my life, it was to create
Music always made me more resilient. It allowed me to channel my energy into something positive. It was a way for me to express powerful messages, address important social issues, and bring people together. But over time, I realized that it wasn’t just the music I loved—it was the process of creating. And that’s when I realized that if there was one thing I wanted to do in my life, it was to create.
Over time, my music gained a ton of attention at my college and beyond. I’ve performed at the United Nations, my latest music video went viral on YouTube, and now I’m on tour.
I’ve also spun out a clothing line tied to my music. And I’m getting ready to finalize funding for the virtual reality concert startup I founded with my friends.
You might read all of this and think that I’m resilient, but honestly, I don’t deserve the credit. Maybe I never did get over losing my mom.
I’ve coped by doing what she would’ve wanted me to do: create positive experiences for myself and for other people.
I never wanted to lose her, and I guess I never did. Her spirit lives in me and in all of my actions, which are inspired by her guidance. She’s been here with me the whole time.
I love you, Mommy.
Kayvon Asemani is a music artist, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. His mission is to create special experiences to bring people together from various backgrounds. This blog entry is the first of his new series entitled “Culture X.” Click here to subscribe.
Image Credit: Norman Jean Roy