I don’t know about you, but I am obsessed with Netflix’s show Queer Eye. The revamped series is nothing like the former T.V. show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The new series is about crossing boundaries, opening up, loving yourself, learning about your purpose, and asking for help. Nearly everyone I speak to about the show talks about how transformative it is for them and how it helps them deal with their own problems. People see themselves in the everyday heroes the Fab Five make over and this universal human experience is what makes the show so simple yet so effective.
Since watching Season 3 I felt like it was just too short. Honestly, this show is never allowed to end. Netflix, are you listening?! So when it finished I wanted something more and this is where I came across Karamo Brown’s memoir. Karamo is a social worker and psychotherapist and on Queer Eye he helps people makeover their insides. I know that sounds really cliche, but it is so important to look inside yourself and figure out what is going on. It doesn’t matter if you have made over your exterior, it won’t have long lasting effects unless you are work on making sure the insides match the outsides.
If you just looked at the Fab Five now and how they are presented on the show, you would probably think they were perfect. And well, you would be right. However, they are perfect because they own their flaws and humble beginnings. Karamo explains in his memoir that he was a teen father, addict, suicide survivor, reality T.V. star, social worker, and a child of immigrant parents. He talks about how his life fell apart and also about how he took the steps to piecing it back together. He doesn’t try to be holier-than-thou in his approach to talking about his past or his future. He is extremely open and honest about his life and respectful of his families traumas that have not yet been dealt with. His memoir is bare all without any of the sensationalism you can often see in celebrity memoirs today. It is truly refreshing.
So to honour my inner bomber-jacket wearing life coach, I want to talk about the life lessons I learnt from reading Karamo’s memoir, Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope.
#1 OWN YOUR MISTAKES
This one might seem simple, but it is extremely hard to practice. Owning your mistakes doesn’t mean that you must punish yourself for everything wrong you have done in your life. It means you need to acknowledge your mistakes and learn and grow from them. Know that you have done wrong, but also know that you have the knowledge to change it and stop it from happening again. Owning your mistakes in this way means you will never get in the rut of making the same mistakes over and over again. Even if you do screw up and make the same mistakes again, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow from them. Karamo himself battles with several drug addictions before he is able to learn and grow from those choices. It also took him time to realise the motivations behind his destructive habits.
#2 LOVE YOURSELF
The show Queer Eye along with Brown’s memoir, Karamo, focus a lot on self love. It feels like a buzz word of late, yet it can also be hard to know what self love might look like. The truth is, self love will be different for everyone. It depends on the individual journey of each person and it requires a lot of emotional intelligence and self understanding to get good at practicing self love. Throughout Brown’s memoir he talks about honouring his past, loving himself for his flaws, embracing his identity as a strong gay black man, and allowing himself to be loved by the people around him. Self love can look like afternoon walks, or going to the gym. It could be cooking with your family, or getting your nails done. It could be remembering to put sunscreen on, or giving yourself time to read that book you have been dying to pick up. Either way, self love tied in with self care are essential parts of surviving this thing called life.
#3 LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Karamo talks about learning he had a son and meeting him for the first time. He talks about how afraid he was of screwing up at fatherhood and worrying that because he didn’t have a great relationship with his father that he would struggle to have a good relationship with his son. He also talks about wanting to be there for his son and to be able to a friend and role model for him. In the moments before he meets his son, Brown toys with the idea of just walking away and paying child support and never worrying about his son again, but he knows that is not what he should do, nor is it what he needs to do for himself or his son.
Many times throughout Brown’s memoir and the T.V. series, he talks about leading by example for his sons. This is twofold as it not only means to behave and act respectful to people around you, but to also honour your own feelings and personal goals. In his memoir, Karamo says his son asked him if he was living his truth/dream and in that moment Karamo answered honestly, ‘No.’ This is one of the most powerful examples of leading by example because it does not always mean that you have to have everything figured out in order to set a good example or to be a good role model for the people around you. Leading by example is about honesty more than about getting everything right all the time.
#4 LET GO OF THE PAST
You are not your past.
You are prepared for your future.
A yes can propel you,
but a no can never hurt you.Chapter 6, Karamo
This quote from Karamo really spoke to me on so many levels. It can be so easy to get caught up in the past. I know I struggle with this. My family was not picture perfect and I still carry a lot of hurt and scars from how disfunctional it was. I would consider myself a work in progress when it comes to letting go of my past. Even though I feel good most days, there is a little voice that will come back and whisper, “No one cared about you then, why should they care about you now…” But letting go of the past is essential in moving forward. Whilst you are holding onto the past you will have no way of grabbing anything new. As Karamo rightfully points out in his memoir, we often become emotional wrecks when we hold on to things that we have no control over. In this example Karamo is talking about his troubled relationship with his father, but it can really stand in for anything we are holding on to.
So how are you letting go of your past?
#5 BE A BIT FABULOUS EVERY NOW AND THEN
Karamo, like the other Fab Five members of Queer Eye, embrace their unique styles and personal expressions. Whilst it is extremely important to work on your inner self and emotions it is also important to make sure that the outsides match the insides, so why not embrace a bit of fabulousness?
Want to wear that bold red lipstick? Do it.
Want to wear a sequined bomber jacket? Do it?
Want to wear no makeup? Do it?
Want experiment with your hair colour and/or length? Do it?
Living your life the way that feels right to you is extremely important. Magazines, social media, and family and friends can often show us one version of the world around you, but to quote Stephen King, ‘there are more worlds than these.’
So there you have it. These are my five life lessons from Karamo Brown’s latest memoir. This is such an amazing memoir and whether you’re a fan of the Netflix show, Queer Eye, or not I think this book is a must-read for everyone. As always, share the reading love.