For those of you who don’t know me, my name is bo-Pah. I’m a 15-year-old drummer and Tom Tom’s youth correspondent; though I’ve been pretty absent for almost a year. The reason for my absence is my biggest supporter and role model passed away. He was the reason I started drumming, and the reason I continued but most importantly, he was my best friend. Last year, I lost my dad.
It was very sudden; in an instant we lost him. It shattered my heart into a million pieces and I’m still trying to glue them back together. I know there are a whole bunch of you out in the world who are going through similar situations. I want to help you navigate staying motivated while going through the rough patches of life. These are the ways I stayed on track after my dad passed away and maybe you can implement some of these tips into your life, too.
First, I want to take a minute to share with you how absolutely amazing my dad was, to honor him in a way and to tell you what an impact he had on my career. My daddy was such a big part of how I started drumming, a big inspiration. He was my biggest fan and genuinely wanted to see me succeed in whatever I wanted to pursue. He was always so interested in any new drum skills I learned and would always ask how they were coming along.
At the very beginning of my drum career, I was really young, maybe around five years old. My daddy and I would go in the garage at our old house and he would help me learn how to play the drums, mostly through YouTube videos. He himself had no clue how to play and had no clue how to teach me. My dad basically just regurgitated what he heard on a video and tried to teach me how to play every day. Saying he was the best dad in the world would be a major understatement, and anyone who knew him understood just how amazing a man he was.
My daddy and I would often sit together and daddy would show me videos of Sheila E., Cindy Blackman, John Bonham, and Buddy Rich. And dad would say to me, “You are going to be like them one day,” because he believed in me. He made me believe that I could do it, that I could get to the top if I really tried. I know that I will never hear my daddy say those words to me again, but I am blessed to have the memory of when he did.
“Sometimes, you need a little time, or a break, and that’s perfectly fine.”
That is what keeps me motivated. My dad’s words of encouragement and his belief in me is what keeps me from giving up during the darkest days. Sometimes it feels like the world stopped spinning, or that the sky has fallen onto my shoulders. And sometimes my tears loosen the grip of the glue trying to hold my life together, and that feeling is probably never going away, because I miss him. But I know that my daddy wouldn’t want me to give up—he would want me to use my experiences to fuel my drive to be better. His words will forever encourage me, and maybe that’s just what you need, too, to find inspiration in the words of a loved one.
I know that thinking of the voice of a lost loved one is sometimes exactly the opposite of what you want. It was hard for me too, at first, and you may just want to take your mind off of everything. I know sometimes heartbreak can distract you from even the people and things you love the most; and you will want to do absolutely nothing. But think about the future. Are you going to look back at your life and wish you had kept trying?
Still discouraged? Well, that’s okay. Sometimes, you need a little time, or a break, and that’s perfectly fine. Look at me: I took a whole year off! But you will always come back around to something that you truly love.
“And dad would say to me, “You are going to be like them one day,” because he believed in me. He made me believe that I could do it, that I could get to the top if I really tried.”
Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you! Those people in your life will keep you on track and remind you about what you love to do. My sisters and my mom were those people in my life for me. They made sure that if I was going to quit, it was when I had my head on straight, because they all knew how much I loved being a drummer, and they were not going to see me give up that easily on something that I loved.
The last thing I have to say is be patient with yourself. There is no certain time anything is supposed to happen. Everyone is different, so feel however you want at whatever time you want. Don’t do or say anything you don’t want to or don’t believe in. And take your own time—not anyone else’s.
I miss my daddy so much, and I will love him and think about him every day of my life.
This article was featured in the Outlaw issue of Tom Tom. Purchase it online.