Many of us are exposed to an environment which influences the choices we make in hopes of being accepted by society. Only to find ourselves in situations that end up making us feel broken up inside. We want out. We want to make a change and start over. But, we just don’t know how.
After his parents divorced, Svens Telemaque’s mom moved from Montreal to one of Miami’s crime-infested neighborhoods. Craving acceptance, this environment influenced and shaped him to want to become a product of his environment. At a young age, he found himself dealing drugs, his life threatened and arrested several times. At some point, he wanted out. He wanted to make a change in his life. He just didn’t know how.
In this post, Svens shares how he went from living a life of crime to pursuing his art as a means to spread his message of love and faith.
Meet Svens Telemaque:
I was a baby when my parents divorced and my mom moved to Miami. Growing up, my mom worked 72 hours per week to make ends meet and provide for us. Because of my mom’s minimal supervision, I turned to my neighborhood friends. They were present and gave me attention. We were all living the same situations and going through the same feelings. I felt like I fitted in and wasn’t an outcast.
My mom gave me love in providing for my necessities. I wanted and needed her presence of affection to feel valued. As a kid, you don’t really understand the concept of struggling to provide for necessities. You want to feel a deeper love from your parents; not feel like you’re a burden and the reason for the struggles.
My environment provided me the opportunity to show I was man enough and the courage to get into a fight and not be afraid. If I could masquerade this persona of a strong, courageous man, then the world would see me this way. The persona of a drug dealer was like a shade covering up the holes inside me.
At fifteen years old, I started selling drugs. At sixteen years old, when my mom caught me, I moved out to live on my own. I didn’t want to live by her rules, it only made me feel more unworthy and the allure of making fast money took me over.
The money offered me the consolation of feeling valued. I belonged to a society that accepted me and if I was making money, I was good at something.
I ended up getting arrested several times. Every time, I desperately wanted to make a change in my life. I just didn’t know how. I loved music and poetry. Poetry was the best way for me to express myself and the way I felt. But, I didn’t know what to do with it.
I had a mentor, someone who tried helping me get out of this life. I just couldn’t put two and two together. One day, we were driving through a ‘bad’ neighborhood alongside a road that had been blocked off with yellow tape. A fifteen year old boy had been shot and killed for stealing drugs. He turned to me said, “You’re going to be next.”
For the first time in my life, I realized I was worth a lot more than this. I didn’t want my existence to end up as a statistics in some book. I felt an inner voice speak to me, trying to show me, “You will be next!” It was so powerful, that right there and then, I knew I wasn’t going to sell drugs anymore. I still didn’t know how or what to do, but I had to start with what I knew in my heart. The how would follow after this first step. If I waited, I would only get myself deeper in the thing I wanted to get away from.
It wasn’t easy at first and I started as a salesperson for shoes, clothes and perfume. One day I got attacked and robbed.
Sometimes things happen in our lives that in the moment seem so unfair. But, they are there to show us that something better is waiting for us.
For me, I realized that although my perception of life had changed, my environment was holding me back. It was not conducive to the new way I wanted to live my life. So, at 20 years old, I moved to Montreal.
I started from scratch. I tried a few jobs. I got my first nine to five job working in a call center. I got bored and decided to find something more physical so I got a job in construction.
There was still something missing. My passion and spark really came alive when I was writing poetry. I wrote and published my first book, “Pen of a Ready Writer.” And, at some point, I visited a juvenile detention center, spoke with the kids and discovered a passion for speaking. I connected with them by sharing my experiences and sparking something in them, sparked something in me. This lead to going on my tour “Broken Crayons Still Color” speaking to teenagers and young adults. Today, I share my experience as a tool to inspire kids who feel broken and stripped of their identities through their environment.
I learned that sometimes, we hang on to past pains and build a persona around them for protection. But, we can change our life and inspire others when we release our hidden story.
When you’re in prison, the only thing people don’t own is your thoughts and emotions. You don’t want to let them go, you hang on to them. The thing is that you hang on to the past, the pain, the hurt and depression. You keep a cold, hard exterior because it serves as a protection. Truth is, you end up building a bigger prison within yourself which is far more isolating than the walls of a prison cell.
We don’t want to expose ourselves as broken up, afraid of losing the persona we want the world to see. We become our own prisoners, never free to be present and live every moment as a fresh beginning. The only way to free ourselves is to what I like to call, liquidation. We need to liquidate and let go of the situations we hang on to. The memories of those situations are constantly taking up way too much emotional space, leaving us with an awful debt. Even if they are just one day old, they are already too old to take up space today.
We’ve all done stuff that has left us with feelings of guilt and regret, maybe not to the same extent, but it’s the same quality of emotional baggage. But, if you dwell on guilt and regret, you will never experience all the good you can do now. You will NEVER change the past but, you can still do amazing things NOW.
My past is completely useless to me now. I’ve learned my lessons and moved on to creating my dream life. You see, when you say you learned from your mistakes or experiences, they are no longer necessary in your present. Those lessons, if truly learned will automatically influence your present actions. As you keep moving, you’re constantly learning and growing. But, if you keep digging in the past, nothing is ever really new.
Many times in life, we get paralyzed by the how. We stop right there. But, if we focus on the WHY and the why is not selfish, the how WILL follow.
Just because you’ve been broken by different situations or different people, it doesn’t disqualify you from showing your work and greatness to the world. We all have a different color. No one will ever be able to draw in your color; it’s YOUR color, YOUR gift!
“Tears may bombard my cheeks
Sweat may surge over my brows
Blood may stain my fingertips
But as long as I believe in my WHY
I will find a HOW.” – Svens Telemaque