This is just a journal reflecting my emotions and thoughts from my performance experience for United Way. On January 22nd I was invited to perform a form of creative arts for a venue of corporate funders and community organizations. I wrote a spoken word piece which was roughly half a page, and I presented it to around 300 people.

My performance for United Way was phenomenal. It was an experience that will stay with me as I grow and develop my skills and knowledge. I had to take the bus and walk a somewhat lengthy distance to get to the Bellagio, where the event was held. I was wearing cargo pants, combat boots, gloves with the fingers cut, a polo shirt over my sweater and a black bandana wrapped around my wrist; mind you that everything I wear is oversized. So seeing all these corporate heads and CEOs parking their shiny cars wearing formal dress clothes threw me off a little. It mainly just made me feel like I would be judged.

Regardless, I walked in, and despite all the people making eye contact with me, the people I approached were very hospitable. Someone approached me and asked if I was a performer, and I agreed, then proceeded to guide me to Nicole, whom I have been in contact with for coordinating my performance. She introduced me to a few people and showed me to my seat and told me all the details about the time and cue coordination. At this point I was feeling a little more nervous because it literally had to be one of the fanciest looking rooms I have ever seen. To pass time before the event started, I began taking pictures and videos to share with my friends, to try and calm myself down. Surprisingly I heard and saw a few familiar names and faces including one of my professors, a friend and community partner also came with me for support which really helped as well.

It was around 4:50 when I was cued, and I couldn’t have felt more ready. With fear and anxiety being my primary sources of motivation, I thought about all the people I would be representing and all the people that I would be supporting with my words. My main focus was to speak in a manner so that the audience would capture my message of solidarity and compassion. As I was performing, I was also thinking about whether I was speaking at a decent pace or if my body movement was awkward, and unfortunately that threw me off a little; resulting in losing where I was in the paragraph. But I recovered, hopefully well enough that people didn’t notice. Before I knew it I was done, wishing I had written more or that I had more time. It was an uplifting and enlightening experience, literally. I felt lighter after the performance as if I had pushed some heavy words, or dropped some knowledge. When I walked off the stage to the sound of people clapping, I immediately began to criticize myself, which is normal for a performer, but I felt grateful and appreciative of the people who additionally encouraged and supported me. The honorarium was also a reassuring factor.

Overall to sum up my experience, I spoke about positive social change, and I was heard by people who have the ability to make that change. This was not only an accomplishment for me but also a stepping stone which has gained me experience and knowledge on both a psychological and sociological scale.

Here are some excerpts of the poem I performed:

“I am the same as you; same heart, same brain
same blood in the veins, I feel the same pain as you
same bones, skin and meat; I eat, breathe, sleep, and bleed like you
universally; you are me and I am you
barriers and boundaries in this bullying game
of name calling and labelling.”

“The stigma of misinterpreting the information we’re learning
they say the truth is disturbing, but lies will blind you
mind you, that strangers have the right to define you.”

“It just goes to show our hypocrisies
we live in blissful ignorance
and dismiss these casualties simply as unfortunate tragedies
the problem is not with reckless or violent populations
but with the lack of accessibility to resources and opportunities
the solution is not through punishment from unjust political judgement
but in supportive intervention through counselling and empowerment.”

Sam Power is a student in the Social Services Worker Program at Seneca@York, and Youth Intern at Spoke N’ Heard. Passionate about social change, community development and challenging systems of oppression, Sam is an avid writer, lyricist and critical thinker who aims to inspire a deep examination of our society and the status quo. His desire is to revolutionize society through education, knowledge sharing, collective organization and global solidarity. He also strives to tear down stigmatization surrounding mental health by raising positive awareness and promoting messages of acceptance and holistic well-being.

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