For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be the Freddie of my world. Like many Black kids in America, it was nice to see people who looked like me on TV. I’ve always been a perfectionist (maybe a tad bit uptight), but Freddie was what I imagined a care free Black girl looked like. Then Lena came along, she was fearless, and she didn’t take any shit. Since Netflix added A Different World, I’ve started re-watching every episode from the beginning. I realized that I am not Denise, I am not Freddie, and I am not Lena. I am Dwayne Cleofis Wayne.
The moment I realized I was Dwayne was on Season 2, Episode 1. Dwayne was promising Walter any and everything to get him out of taking Calculus with Colonel Taylor. Walter was telling Colonel Taylor how everything always comes easy to Dwayne Wayne. Walter goes on to say when Dwayne is scared that he might not do well that he doesn’t try. He runs. I always wanted to be like Freddie in life, but I am Dwayne Wayne.
Things have always come easy to me. I never had to study. Never had to practice. I was just good. If had to work hard at something, I simply quit and walked away. My mind could always come up with an excuse of why I shouldn’t try or why it was okay to quit. Unfortunately, always being good has cost me, because I never gave myself the opportunity to be great. I got stuck somewhere in life. After finishing college, I still had no idea what I wanted or needed to do. I worked a lot of dead end jobs that I didn’t want and at one point I was sleeping on my friend’s living room floor. I was content on just being good enough to just get a job.
Finally, I have given myself permission to be great and to follow my purpose. It is still a challenge to not want to walk away when I think things are too hard. I have had to teach myself how to edit videos and interview people, which means I’ve had to overcome being nervous in front of a camera. I am a work in progress just like everyone else. I am working through my depression. I am working.
Dwayne and I have learned some lessons:
- Go after what you want and need. Remember, when Dwayne broke up Whitley’s wedding. Or when he stood up to Colonel Taylor, because he was in love with his daughter. Stand up and grab your purpose by the straps. Ride that purpose like a bull.
- Be Yourself. Corny lines and flip up glasses. Dwayne never strayed away from being Dwayne. He just embraced his goofy, and the girls still came running. As I said, I am working on myself. I am weird. I am corny. I am Chiquita.
- Don’t accept being good when you can be great. Dwayne worked three jobs and struggled to support Whitley, but he ended up getting a job offer in Japan for more money. The best things things do not come easily, they’ll require your greatness. They’ll require your hard work.
- Use your voice. Although he ended up being wrong, when Dwayne’s radio show got taken off-air, he started a protest and took over the Dean’s office. Poetry and conducting my interviews has allowed me to use my voice in new ways.
- Seek guidance when necessary. Dwayne never hesitated to go to Walter or Colonel Taylor to ask for help. My guidance comes in the form of a therapist. Never be ashamed to seek help when you need it.