Welcome back to my blog, TréXThomas where I somehow turn my brainstorms into a wholesome amount of paragraphs that I call blog posts. After an unintended seven or eight month hiatus due to the demand of a jam-packed schedule, I’m ready to get back into this. Concentrating solely on my A-levels and athletics was exhausting but it’s now been well over two months since my last A-level exam. In addition, my 2018 athletics season is well under wraps so I figured this would be the right time to return being as I don’t have anything to fixate myself on until I go to university. So, keep your eyes peeled for new uploads coming soon. Feel free subscribe to my blog too.
Very early on this year, I remember reading a quote which read ‘Be who you needed when you were younger’. After giving it some thought, I realised that being the person you needed when you were younger is such significant characteristic. It also ties in well with setting examples for the younger generation. I’ve somewhat kept the quote close to me when transitioning through many rites of passages this year. Being the person you needed when you were younger can mean many things to different people – in this post I’ll get into the idea of what it means to me as well as what it could mean to you. I solely believe that representation is important when it comes to influencing and inspiring people (especially young people). To link this to myself – as a child, a perfect role model for me in the media or in school never really existed. I was as impressionable as any other younger boy and despite being shy at times, I always wanted to be a successful individual when growing up. Watching TV in the evening was the done thing ten years ago and I remember struggling to find representation of myself as well as relate to a lot of British TV programmes that were popular to watch. This is because of two fundamental things. Most programmes were predominantly white. Therefore, representation of me was minimal in the first place. And… The representation of young black boys that was on television was unbalanced and did not reflect me. (a large amount of the representation was negative) When I saw big shows like ‘Top Boy’, I was able to appreciate the art of the show (because it was a top quality show), but struggled to relate to any of the characters. Similarly, in soaps like EastEnders I noted that gang members were predominantly represented as black. I don’t only have an interest in sport and having interests in things such as sociology, politics, the media etc is difficult to engage in at times when you’re not represented from within. Therefore, I think that it is important to be your true self as well as the person you needed when you were younger so that you build gateways for the next generation. In recent years, I’ve witnessed a gradual change in television with shows like ‘Chewing Gum’ and even the film ‘Black Panther’. However, it does seem as though America is leading the way in the trend towards fairer representation. I also stumbled across a YouTube channel named ‘The Grapevine’ which is a black owned discussion show which delves into topics of representation in race and gender etc. (a show that I might be writing about in the foreseeable future) I think that it’s impressive when I see people being their authentic selves at a young age, especially when they haven’t been represented sufficiently in the outside world. When speaking about how to be a better version of yourself, it may seem like the most cliché thing to say but being yourself is most important. It’s the truth. Being your authentic self is all it takes to be the person you needed when you were younger. This is because a lot of the time in a world filled with consumerism, social media and copycat behaviour. People often become a replica of the people they surround and associate themselves with. Being someone that doesn’t conform to everything in life is something that we should all commemorate especially if you feel as though you have something of worth to give to the world.
Over the past ten years, social media has taken over the world with young people innocently being the driving force for it’s success.
It’s clear that social media is a great medium for communication, friendships and even works well in workplace environments. With this, social media also acts as a news outlet allowing us to keep up to date with what’s happening in the wold.
Social media is a young peoples game as they simply dominate it. Any trend, popular opinion or music success is somewhat in the hands of what young people share on social media day in and day out. For example, this year we have seen trends throughout. From the popularity of people jumping out of car doors dancing to Drake to the viral video of the yodelling Walmart boy. These are seen as more comedic trends, however young people have also participated more serious things like the shifting of feminist ideas and helping things like the #MeToo campaign rise to the surface of mainstream media. TV has arguable become an outdated form of media for older people due to sites like YouTube and Netflix taking over.
However, social media does come with its cons. Recent studies show that the rates of depression in young people has risen due to social media. It creates anxiety, depression, loneliness and body image insecurity. I think it’s difficult for people who use social media to accept the negatives because it’s not the most simple thing for us to understand. We need to realise that when we follow people online, we only see a sample of their best experiences, relationships and memories. This comes with them making themselves look as attractive as possible to their audience. Whether we want to accept it or not, watching people share their joy online whilst we aren’t feeling great ourselves is only having a negative impact our lives. It leads us to compare ourselves to a misleading representation of someone else which is essentially ‘fake’. This creates our insecurities.
We should be more aware of ourselves when using social media and we should try our best to make a safe place for all people. If social media seems to be impacting on you negatively (e.g. insecurity), taking a break is completely fine and is actually a pro-active step to take. I know from experience that taking breaks from social media is genuinely a refreshing thing to do, especially during busy periods in you life like the exam period. Even after my exams, I took a few weeks away from social media and visited both London and Paris in that time. Not using social media whilst away made me more aware of my surroundings which allowed me to enjoy my time in those places a lot more. In addition, if taking a break isn’t an option for you, a great thing about social media sites is that you are in control of who you want to follow. Unlike other media outlets, a lot of content is forced down our throats.
Therefore, after reading this blog post, I urge you to take the time to really think about who you follow online and why you follow them. Maybe you’ll start to contemplate unfollowing those who you only follow because of their popularity etc. After all, social media is great as long as you keep your content personalised.
To begin my ‘comeback’ on the blogging scene, I decided to write about something that has been requested often, particularly by fellow athletes. However, I have somewhat avoided it simply because I knew that it would be something I would struggle to give advice on it. Nevertheless, I think that I have finally come up with three sort of steps on how to deal with setbacks.
Setbacks, defeat and disappointment. They’re frustrating and demotivating. You may face them in sport, exams or even just everyday life.
We are often faced with setbacks, defeat and disappointment, but how do we deal with them? I’m not going to pretend to be a guru on this but I’m willing to give my perspective on things. To gear this towards my athletic audience without excluding the rest of my readers, I’ll try and intertwine both athletics and everyday life disappointments into this write.
Firstly, defeat is embarrassing. That is a fact. Especially when you have put yourself on a pedestal in the first place. So, my first tip to save yourself from that embarrassment would be to stay quiet about you goals. It’s very rare for people to explicitly say their exact aims in high profile interviews as like I said, if you fail it ends up being embarrassing. Additionally, it adds more unnecessary pressure before you even face the disappointment. I would avoid telling too many people your personal goals as it will honestly make dealing with a setback much easier. That’s not to say that you can’t give yourself praise and believe that you can do things to the best of your ability to gain success.
We are often told to compare ourselves to those who are less fortunate than us to make us more humble. It makes sense but it’s undeniable that we live in a society that is extremely competitive. This results in us comparing ourselves to those who have more success than us leading us to never be fully satisfied with our own accomplishments. We always want more which isn’t necessarily bad BUT the notion of entitlement is somewhat damaging at times. Therefore, firstly you might need to accept your setback, defeat and/or disappointment and put it into perspective in a way to realise that ‘its not the end of the world’. It sounds harsh after so much hard work, dedication and sacrifice whether that is in sport or exams, I know. But, perspective is important. It might help by speaking to other people to gain their perspectives on your situations too. In addition, failure to reach your goal doesn’t mean that you can’t try again which leads me on to my next point.
Another way in which you can deal with disappointment is to set yourself new goals as well as not giving up on old ones. I’ve written a post about goal setting before and it’s something that I still stand by strongly. Goal setting is imperial when you want to succeed in something. A positive mid set is a healthy mindset so, convincing yourself that you are going to fail is only going to lead you to failure. If you really do want something, then you will put in the hard work for it. My advice would be to keep trying because the worst that can happen is failure, and failure itself isn’t all that bad – especially when lessons are leant from it.
If you would like some advice on goal setting please read one of my previous posts here.
There are many different definitions of power. However, they all run along the lines of explaining that it is as the ability to actualise an idea and make it a reality. Some people view power as being a spectrum. On one side of the spectrum lies people with the most power and the other side represents those with little power.
Throughout time, power has often carried with itself a negative connotation. This is due to power being misused in a way that has lead to negative realities being actualised. An example of this would be Hitler’s Nazi far-right political party or even just a smaller scale example of a teacher using their power to treat students unequally would still fit suit. Nevertheless, we need to remember that power can also be used in positive ways (which tend to actually have longer lasting affects).
In order to find yourself on the side of the ‘spectrum’ that allows you to have a lot of power, it is thought that you need to have a broad and clear understanding of the world. A wide ranged understanding of the society that you find yourself in is important. This understanding needs to include knowledge of social matters, politics and current affairs. An awareness of reality consequently leads you to the resources that can indeed make you a powerful person. These resources include money, education and social support. This explains why the majority of politicians (that have a considerable amount of power) have such powerful statuses. Their parents often had the money to send them to high performing private educational institutions. At these institutions, they have a huge amount of social support as there tends to be a value consensus status quo.
This theory is evident in everyday situations. When somebody has a wide understanding of a situation, you tend to respect their opinion a lot more. This also happens often when you are aware that somebody has a lot of money, a big educational qualification (a degree for example) and social support. In addition, in today’s society, money tends to be the biggest influence of an individual’s power status as social class is somewhat always determined by monetary success.
So, as said before, those with power generally have a greater understanding of the world along with the resources of money, education and social support. With all of that being said, there are still people out there who find themselves in powerful positions without the resources that usually enable you to be powerful in the first place. This often leads to power being used in nonconstructive ways. Nevertheless, it isn’t always too late to change that. Jay-Z is an example of a man that arguably didn’t use his powerful status constructively in the beginning of his success. Although, he has now used his power (and money) to educate himself and others on social matters to try and make a positive change to society by having important conversations about politics, social justice and even love. Without his efforts to have a better understanding of the world, it is likely that his power would been misused.
In regards to the main message to this blog post, I wanted to explain why certain people may or may not be seen as powerful. Maybe you could use this information and make yourself more of a valued, powerful individual (for good reasons). You can become someone that has the power to influence or actualise an idea. Educate yourself on social, political and current affairs. Knowledge equates to power. If you aren’t someone who can easily get the resource of money, your knowledge will often outweigh it. A lack of education leads to limitations and you don’t want to find yourself in that situation. Let’s make ourselves able to make the right decisions which impact ourselves and our surroundings in a positive way. As a result, you’ll also be viewed as a much more valued individual in society.
Happy Friday. It’s not often that I post on Fridays but it’s 2018 now. So let’s just say… New year, new me, right?
January. A time for us all to join the gym? Set some new goals? Maybe even start up a new diet plan. I think it’s funny how all of a sudden, once the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, everyone seems to rebrand themselves as if they’re contestants on The X Factor. If it motivates you and makes you a better person then go for it. However, it makes me giggle how some people have been ‘rebranding’ themselves for the past 7 year and are stood in the exact same spot; saying that they’re going to do the exact same things as they were going to do almost a decade ago.
This year, I didn’t set myself any new year resolutions. It sounds ridiculous considering that I’m an athlete and A level student. I even wrote a whole blog post on how goal setting is important (which you can read here). Of course, goal setting is important but it shouldn’t be forced simply because it’s January 1st. A constant and steady flow of goal setting is much more productive. After all, we grow as people everyday and nothing is going to magically happen over night.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this blog post and to be completely honest… I began to think about how January feels like it’s never ending this year. (Hence the title ‘January.’). I was struggling to come up with some ideas to write about. Prior to that, many of my peers wanted me to write about the whole Logan Paul situation. People mentioned the H&M scandal and even Offset’s homophobic song lyrics that caused outrage. They’re all popular culture topics of which I felt I could write confidently about, but I wanted to be unique. Until I saw today (Jan 25th), that Logan Paul has quite literally ‘rebranded’ himself in his new YouTube video which aimed to raise awareness on the topic of suicide. This was after he was globally criticised for essentially mocking suicide earlier this month.
It’s astonishing that within the space of 25 days, Logan Paul went from ignorantly fooling around in a suicide forest, to now being an advocate for suicide prevention. This is a genius move by him. Only in the sense that he has been able to maintain a growing audience with little criticism by ‘rebranding’ himself. The general public were waiting to see what his next online move was going to be after all of the commotion (including myself). To many people, him suddenly becoming an ambassador for suicide prevention comes across as very cynical. In all honesty, people have every reason to believe that it was only done so that he could continue his career on YouTube as a social influencer (with minimal backlash).
Which takes me back to my initial point of ‘rebranding’. Are we really making some of these new goals for the right reasons, or is it to satisfy others and be strategic about situations that we find ourselves in?
It’s been a few weeks since I last uploaded a blog post but I’m back now. It’s unlikely that I’ll be posting every week as thinking of new blog post ideas is proving difficult and my free time is slowly decreasing; as A levels and athletics begin take over in the new year.
But anyways, I thought I’d end this year with a post listing what I consider to be the best albums that have been released this year. Seventeen of them to be precise. These are based on artistic content and not popularity. So, if you’re a pop music fan then this probably isn’t a good read for you. I listen to A LOT of albums. I add them to my library weekly when they release on a Friday but these are the ones that stood out for me. I consider some of these albums to be literal masterpieces. I hope that I persuade some of you to listen to a few of them at some point if you haven’t done so already. For reference, I find the majority of my music on Tidal.
Let’s do this in chronological order as listing them from best to is proving too challenging for my indecisive self.
1. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
This album is self explanatory in the sense that there are elements of sweet, sexy and savage throughout. Kehlani entered 2017 with a bang with this debut album and she has demonstrated how hard work really does pay off. The vocal arrangements and production are astonishing. She really put her foot down to claim being the new R&B princess.
2. Sampha – Process
Process is another debut album that I would recommend. I often listen to it when revising as it is somewhat relaxing.
3. Stormzy – Gang Sings & Prayers
I first listened to Stormzy’s album with a closed minded perception of him. I now realise that it was a result of the media’s representation of him being unintelligent and unable to make ‘real’ music. However, ‘Gang Sign’s & Prayers’ is artistically exciting and is cohesively satisfying. Stormzy has had a big impact on British music and grime in particular with this album and I am somewhat proud of him for it. I would definitely recommend for people to and give the album a listen.
4. Khalid – American Teen
Despite how commercialised Khalid has become over this year, I have to admit that his album is generally an enjoyable listen. I like how carefree and youthful it is.
Here’s where it starts to get really good…
5. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
DAMN, Kendrick really made a genius album this year. The cohesive elements of the album is magical and he continues to deliver hard bars that are often underappreciated. I feel as though Kendrick Lamar has truly created one of the most clever albums after announcing that it was actually meant to be listened to backwards due to the narrative. I would be very happy to see him take many Grammy awards for it in February next year.
6. SZA – Ctrl
Now, Ctrl is one of THE best albums of 2017 and best debut albums that I have ever listened to. I wrote a whole blog post on it here if you would like a more in depth analysis. SZA is what the R&B scene has been missing for years.
7. Lorde – Melodrama
I have gone on about this album so much this year, labelling it as the ‘Best Album of 2017’, a ‘masterpiece’ that has a powerful narrative of a breakup and heartache. Of course, I wrote a whole separate blog post on this album which you can find here. I just love the honesty, narrative and brilliance of this album. After being nominated at the Grammy’s for ‘Album of the Year’, I would be so happy for Lorde to take the award home with her.
8. Jay-Z – 4:44
The legend himself, Jay-Z dropped ‘4:44’, exclusively for Tidal customers and the honesty, empowerment and buzz that it gives off is astonishing. I was shocked but pleased with him after revealing untold truths about his infidelity. The mature approach to subject matters of a black empowerment and equality concerning race and sexuality only made me praise him more despite his life mistakes. I wrote more about this album and the messages behind it here.
9. Aminé – Good For You
I have a growing love for Aminé, every time I listen to ‘Good For You’. The causal and cheeky feel that he gives off in his debut album can only lift your mood. Its pretty ‘litty’ in my opinion. I wrote more about ‘Good For You’ earlier this year in a blog post here.
10. Daniel Caesar – Freudian
This is probably the most fresh feeling albums of 2017. The cohesive album ‘Freudian’ is a personal favourite in terms of listening satisfaction. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Frank Ocean or Solange Knowles. I am definitely excited to see him and his music career flourish in the future.
11. BROCKHAMPTON – SATURATION II
This album had me SOOK on so many levels. The irregular ‘boy-band’, BROCKHAMPTON produce some of the best rap bars that I have personally listened to in terms of originality. I don’t even know how to explain the production and sounds on this album. Just go and listen to it for yourselves, PLEASE. They released three albums this year, part 1, 2 and 3 of the SATURATION trilogy. Part 3 was only released last week! It’s crazy. They will forever leave me mind-blown.
12. Sabrina Claudio – About Time
I would say that ‘About Time’ is another refreshing album that is somewhat relaxing. I look forward to hearing more music from Sabrina in the future.
13. Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me
I don’t tend to listen to the big ‘pop’ albums, but after watching Demi Lovato’s Youtube documentary, I felt like I had to go on to listen to her album. The documentary was rather deep at times. For the album itself, it’s pretty good if i’m honest. I was surprised with how strong her voice really is.
14. Kelela – Take Me Apart
‘Take Me Apart’ is an album that I would say it up there with ‘Melodrama’ and ‘DAMN.’ in terms of its artistic ability. The album is cohesive and is a personal favourite of mine. Kelela created what I would call a masterpiece here. With it’s ‘breakup’ theme, Kelela goes in hard on this LP.
15. Willow – The 1st
This album is just adorable. Willow never fails to produce good music. Despite it being a short album, I was truly satisfied with the music that was produced.
Don’t judge me but…
16. Taylor Swift – reputation
I don’t like Taylor Swift personally but I decided to listen to ‘reputation’ due to it being one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. I was definitely surprised. I have to admit that this is a really good pop album with some great pop anthems throughout.
17. Chance The Rapper & Jeremih – Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped
Released literally LAST NIGHT, Chance and Jeremih dropped a surprise Christmas album and it’s amazing. Whenever they collaborate together, they make wonders happen. The R&B sounds that they’ve been able to incorporate into this album are so inventive. Plus, they even got Noname to feature on it.
…And that is my list completed.
It’s interesting that around half of what I would call the ‘Best Albums of 2017’ are actually debut albums. Hopefully this means that the artists are only going to produce even better albums later down the line in their careers. It’s strange that the albums that stood out for me the most this year had themes of love and heartbreak. It must mean that I’m a sucker the emotional stuff. Lol. Anyway, I’m excited for what music 2018 has in the bag for us. See you all in next year 🙂