Show re-cap: India.Arie on Super Soul Sunday
Anyone who's ever known me knows I'm a lifelong fan of the musical artist India.Arie. Wise beyond her years, at only 25 years old in 2002 India.Arie released the self-empowerment song "video" that gave listeners a new wave of soul to catch. Encouraging women to embrace their every curve, "flaw" and leg hair, she was far from the norm in her industry. Her now-famous "Video" lyrics read:
"I'm not the average girl from your video/and I ain't built like a supermodel/but I learn to love myself unconditionally/because I am a queen."
Clearly not humming the same tune as her musical cohorts, it was astounding to most when she was nominated for 7 Grammys for her debut album, Acoustic Soul. She won none of them, but continued to go on to make albums that encourage and inspire.
I was, and always have been, one of those overjoyed listeners who was grateful there was an artist speaking less to unattainable perfection and more to perfect imperfection. When I listened to her songs and her tales of torture and triumph on her spiritual path, I always felt like I could have written the songs myself. Tonight, as I was watching a re-run of her interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, I was taken aback by some of her wisdom and rushed right to the blog to share it.
India.Arie told Oprah of her total breakdown in 2009 that prompted her to seek temporary solitude while she searched to reclaim her inner voice. When asked where her voice disappeared to in the first place, she told Oprah she realized she was living a life that her mother would have wanted for her, but not the one she wanted for herself. She described the result being akin to "death", explaining that her life at the time felt like it was being lived for what other people thought about her, and not what she thought about herself.
"Your real job in the world is to be you. Comparing myself to other people ... that's what hurt me more than anything," she told Oprah.
India.Arie ended up temporarily leaving the music industry in order to give herself the space to find who she was again. After prayer and meditation, she says, she became aware that God didn't want her to stay away from the industry forever, but to bring herself into it.
India.Arie said she now laughs at the time before her breakdown-breakthrough and some of the behaviors she can't imagine participating in today. Oprah asked her to describe one of those behaviors and she explained how she would just blatantly leave many of her life choices up to other people instead of trusting her intuition - she trusted other people more than she trusted herself. (Gee, I can't relate to that...cough cough...)
Oprah responded to India's story by explaining that that's why she started her show in the first place - to teach people that they are responsible for their own lives, and that it's better to realize that now than at the end of your life (though, if you're 91 and reading this, I really don't think it's ever too late.)
"You're responsible for your own life," Oprah concluded. "You're the one you've been waiting for."