5 Surprising Lessons I Learned From My First Public Freestyle Rap Event
You can learn new skills very quickly.
I’m not a rapper.
But I was, for a moment, the other night. And it was awesome — even if I was a total beginner.
The one time I’ve ever tried “freestyle rapping,” like even tried, was in high school. I was with my cousin and his cool friends. We were drinking some beers, and somebody suggested we start a rap circle.
When it came to me…well, “cringe” doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was so embarrassing. I was spectacularly awful. Like, memorably so.
So, it was with a little hesitation that I grabbed the microphone at a local, beginners-welcome freestyle rap event.
My friend — a professional speaker and amateur rapper — invited me to this workshop. And 2 hours into it, I was shocked to see people hollering and cheering for the freestyle rap I just made into the mic.
Here’s a few lessons I learned.
1. Everything You Want is On the Other Side of Fear.
With a little training and direction, I was able to string together some rhymes in front of a dozen random strangers.
And it was a spiritual experience. I was rapping from the heart — I was talking about my childhood, about getting bullied for my stuttering in 5th grade, getting rejected by the girl I was in love with. It was a focused, flowing, incredible experience. It was like a prayer.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Because when you grab that mic — whatever your “mic” is — you might find yourself experiencing some of the most pure, time-stopping focus you’ve ever felt.
2. You Have To Look Stupid For a While Before You Get Any Good.
A few of my fellow beginners had also never tried public freestyle rapping before. It showed — many of these brave men and women were trying their absolute damnedest to try and make rhymes, but it didn’t quite work (me included!).
But you have to look stupid for a while before you get any good.
All the world’s greats, at one point, sucked at what they do. They had to look stupid for a long time, pushing through the rejection and ridicule and embarrassment…until one day, they made something kind of good. Then, they relentlessly improved it.
But if you can look stupid long enough, you’ll eventually achieve enormous goals — the kind of goals no one ever expected you to make.
3. Most People Let Fear Dictate Their Lives. The Ones Who Don’t Will Truly Succeed.
A lot of people live their lives with one basic, underlying goals: avoid pain.
This leads to fear-based thinking — when your focus is all about how to not get hurt, you become afraid of everything. Because frankly, you can get hurt by anything — your partner, boss, landlord, even the barista at Starbucks. It’s easy to retreat into yourself to avoid potential pain.
But when you finally decide to stop living a fear-based life and start living an adventure-based existence, your life will completely upgrade.
When I tried to freestyle rap in front of a dozen strangers, that was an adventure-based decision. Stepping out into the unknown is exhilarating. It’s fulfilling. It’s just damn fun.
You’ll have a better time when you stop letting fear dictate your life. Choose an adventure-based existence instead.
4. You Have the Most Fun in Life When You’re In “Flow States.”
Most people can’t remember the last time they entered a flow state.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow, flow is “the optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
Most people sleepwalk through life without ever feeling so intensely focused, time seems to stand still.
But it’s one of the funnest activities you can add to your life.
When I was trying to freestyle rap on the mic, I entered a flow state — if only for a few moments. Time seemed to stand still, and I had the whole world in the palm of my hand. I was so locked in and focused, it felt like I had superpowers.
You have the most fun when you’re constantly in flow states. Spend time doing things that help you get to that state of mind.
5. If You Want To Find Out Who You Truly Are, Do Crazy Things.
A lot of people don’t really know who they are, deep down. Once you remove all the insecurities and fears, jealousies and fantasies, who are you? What are you like?
Well, if you want to find out — do crazy things. Because crazy things tend to strip away anything phony or fake about you.
I’ve found out the most about myself when:
- I tried to write a book
- I biked for 50 miles
- I started consistently waking up at 5:00am
- I started going to therapy
- I freestyle rapped in front of strangers
Do crazy things — things that challenge you, things you think you can’t do.
You’ll find out who you are in the process.
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