"The Awakening Lotus Flower Bomb"

by Kyra Beasley

             Jhene Aiko is a 28-year-old singer, songwriter from Los Angeles, California. Her style of music describes her personality: Soulful, free-spirited, authentic and honest.  While listening to the words of her songs on album Souled Out, which was released Sept. 9, 2014; it’s obvious she has been through some life changing events. She sings about how at one point feeling as though her worth wasn’t enough, learning to smile through unfortunate times, and accepting the fact that “change is inevitable.” Many of the songs on the album show her personal transition through growth and spiritual awakening. “Pretty Bird”, "W.A.Y.S.” (Why Aren’t You Smiling), and “Spotless Mind” all have different sounds, but connects together in a way that is relatable.

         These songs are particularly for anybody who is experiencing that awkward phase: Figuring out who they are, they’re purpose, and dealing with obstacles we face daily. No matter the age, race or ethnicity; everyone has gone through similar circumstances that can be viewed in a different way in each of the songs. This is what makes her album real in such a mediocre industry.

       Jhene Aiko elaborated on the process of finding self-worth from within to embracing the bullshit life throws at us. She mentions how we often compare ourselves to someone else’s highlighted reel and lose sight of our own gifts or unique characteristics; not realizing we’re looking from the outside in. It's understandable to feel like you don’t have it all together, but that’s exactly the point. You are not supposed to. If we did, life would be quite boring. What we go through is what molds us to become better individuals. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to see it right then, but it's important to look at the brighter side of things. If that sounds cliché, then it must be true. Jhene realizes that we all have internal radiance waiting to shine, but tell me… what good is it if you let temporary challenges hold you back?

        She informs us to believe that ‘greatness is upon us.’ Why else would you be taking up space on this earth: Smile! Unfortunately, most of us weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths and we don’t ask for shit to hit the fan. Understand that where you are now will not determine your destination. Jhene Aiko reminds us to realize we have to lose our mind to find our peace of mind. I take that as, we have to be willing to test our limits and capabilities, so that when our journey does get tougher we only get stronger and wiser. Time waits for no women nor man, therefore slowing down is not an option. She makes it okay for one to fail; not always knowing the answers.  Our flaws and failures are what makes us authentic, yet extraordinary. We must learn to embrace them like we celebrate our accomplishments.

        Furthermore, we find ourselves in a vulnerable and confusing state known as enlightenment or growth. In this phase, you may begin to find out that holding on to what you have to let go of (relationships, jobs, environment…etc) could hinder you from being the best you can be. Then it dawns on you, “Its time for a change.” Jhene explains that though change is good, others around you may think otherwise. You may even stop talking to friends and lose contact with family members. That only shows their true colors, which is the disappointing part.

      From a personal experience, going to college out of state was an eye opener. In high school, I was the outsider. I would try out for different clubs, organizations and I was the oddball. If I did make the ‘team,’ I wasn’t involved in much activity. After four years in high school trying to find where you belong, experiencing 'heartbreak,' you begin to question yourself. “Is it me? Am I not good enough? What does she have that I don’t? “ I began to question my worth looking at other people's highlighted reels. I felt like I failed as a high school student. I graduated with a 3.6-grade point average, so my academics wasn’t a problem, Honey! However, my social life was another story. During the first three months as a freshman in college, I was alone and spiritually down. Transitioning into a young adult, I had to unlearn everything I was taught and conditioned to think. Simply because I was questioning everything: Religion, purpose, even the relationship I had with certain 'friends' and 'family' members. All this time, I was dealing with rejection. From guys, organizations I took an interest in, hell scholarships to. It really took a toll on me. No one really understood except my mother. When I returned home during the winter break, I felt even more lonely-The vulnerable and confusing state. I thought to myself, “But how?” I assumed that I would reunite with the close-knit friends I had in high school. The only person that checked on me was my best friend from fourth grade. I spent the rest of my freshman year getting to know Kyra (me) and finding self-worth. My mentality has changed drastically and I'm grateful to have gone through that awkward phase of growth. I recently decided to get a tattoo on my back of the Lotus Flower Blossom, which represents spiritual awakening and growth. I have not yet found my purpose and how to let my internal radiance glow: However, I'm comfortable with being myself and making mistakes. Those are the qualities that make me who I am.

Jhene Aiko's purpose behind these songs was to get the listener to understand that without failure, there is no progress. We must have our own experiences to gain wisdom. We’re bound to go through some traumatic events, because that’s just the way life is. It's not about where we are now, but how we choose to get to where we want to be. Through this journey, we will all have to face this constant pattern of change. Enjoy it!

"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."- Unknown