The Struggle Bus
Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Let's talk about "The Struggle Bus." If you're not familiar with this term, I suggest you download the Urban Dictionary app. I have been speaking to a high school students, and I have no clue what the hell kids are talking about, so I use the app.
"I've never been cool, I've only been confident"
My “cool” status is the equivalent of a middle-aged dad who sold his coupe for a minivan. And no, ladies, I'm not excited to see you - this is a fanny pack and in this fanny pack, you can see all of the items I'm using to get off the struggle bus.
The Struggle Bus isthe struggle. We all have different struggles, but most likely the same struggles in our industry. I used to panic because I'm always struggling. Why isn't anyone else struggling?!? I see boxers buying Porsches, comedians getting nonstop shows, and athletes who are nailing high paying gigs around the world. These people make it look so easy.
This was my thought at first until someone asked me why everything is so easy for me. He said that I'm lucky because I never get discouraged and everything is so casual to me. He brought to my attention that I even smile on the way to the ring when I fight. Is that what people think? Good! "Work hard when no one is looking. When they look, make it look easy."
In the wise words of S N Double-O P, "Pimp'n ain't easy." And I'm usually sweating out my perm when I'm alone. When I'm struggling in a panic, I don't want anyone to know. I may smile walking to the ring, but I don't promote my late night workout and the fact that I question my efficiency. I am not sure if I'm broke or cheap. Either way, I know I don't have a promised pay check next month. Boxing for USA BOXING (USAB) is exhausting and I'm always on The Struggle Bus. Emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. I've learned to control my emotions as of lately.
"I'm not sure if I'm broke or cheap but I know I don't have a promised pay check"
Previously I was dubbed "Camye West" because I threw tantrums. You can't expect someone to be number 1 in the world without being manically passionate. You cannot control passion of that depth, or at least I thought.
Although I preach 'failure without being discouraged,' failure is emotionally exhausting. Seeing people that want the best for you and not reaching your goal makes you feel as if you disappointed them, and frankly, it's embarrassing. I've been the dude who is going to the Olympics for the last DECADE! Not being bitter towards boxing or my successful friends is difficult, but #ThyShallNotHate - Bro Bible.
Getting out of bed knowing you must be known as the "hey that's the olym- oh wait, you didn't go, right?" dude sucks at times. I'm grateful for all that I have accomplished, but I know exactly what Karl Malone and John Stockton felt like in the 90's. Hearing those songs about never giving up is great, but those songs are a 3-minute version of lyrical Xanax and before that song stops... that Struggle Bus continues on.
Because I'm building three careers that have a very unlikely success rate, I’m split in three ways. By success, I mean money. If you're boxing for fun, you can do it for free. I was doing it for patriotism. I felt an immense pride wearing the USA flag in another country. The opportunity to represent our 50 stars and 13 stripes in another competitors’ homeland and win gold, the idea of himstanding on a peg below me while we listen to ournational anthem, is PRICELESS! But I tried to send that in an envelope to AT&T. The funny thing? They don't accept that as currency.
So I need money…
Money doesn't buy happiness.
Money doesn't make you better.
Money doesn’t make you hit harder, so don't add a correlation between money and happiness. They have nothing to do with each other. The sign of ultimate happiness is only wanting money. It means all the happiness in your life has already been uncovered. That is where I am.
This guy told me how lucky I was to have all of these sponsors wanting me. Well, surprise! Everyone is sending me merchandise and I can get any product sponsorship I like. But once again, AT&T won't accept protein powder and T-shirts from local shops as currency. I don't have to pay for certain amenities in life, so I'm grateful for that. I also support locally because I know what it's like to start off. Every text, sale, email, stranger wearing your shirt is a reason to keep riding that Struggle Bus until you're successful.
Also, working for 'exposure' is the toughest thing for me. Exposure is experience, but if you continue to work for free, your service is literally worthless. At some point, I will have to say no. But I really like free shit (don't we all?)... so we will see how that goes.
I'm up early in the morning trying to figure the best way to match words together to be as powerful as possible while remaining relevant to a crowd of an unknown demographic. I’m constantly jotting down ideas and topics on the 8X6 foot white board in my bedroom.
I'm expected to be witty, and wit is a muscle you must exercise to stay sharp. Being enthusiastic and alert makes me physically exhausted. After sharpening my brain, I head to the boxing gym and need to be self-motivated enough to push through an intense workout.
Many times, I get back to my house and sit in my car in my garage for an hour because knowing that I have to shower and then be productive makes me want to stay in my car. Then I must cook, be social, attend events with friends, as they attend mine, odd ends and tasks, help friends that think I’m free because I don't have a conventional job, etc.
After that, I would go to open mics at bars at night, but something had to give. I'm too exhausted to be funny at 10pm. I love doing comedy, but it's not financially lucrative and I can't let hobbies get in the way of being successful. I often sneak new jokes into speeches as my own open mic, so I continue to fuel my passion.
Luckily I save money with my Chipotle Mexican Grill Celebrity Card which gives me free burritos, which is the cornerstone of my diet. But I see friends taking vacations and I cannot because I don't have a constant reliable income from speaking, yet. I'm still on that Struggle Bus. Contrary to popular belief, there is no real value in having a large following if I'm doing it wrong.
"The only check I've gotten is a blue one from Twitter"
Everyone is struggling in their own way, and many people don't complain about their problems... well... besides that one Facebook friend that you had to unfollow or hide. No one likes negativity. What you feed is what will grow. Don't acknowledge the negative and remember that you are not alone.
Why do I continue to do all that I do? The answer is simple. When I land punch after punch and have a dominant performance, when I whisper the punchline to my closing jokes and get a room of laughter, and when I deliver a keynote and I give someone a reason to keep riding that infamous Struggle Bus, I get a high that is higher than the lowest of the lows couldn't ever compare to.
That's enough of a reason to be seated on this bus as I greet new passengers that arrive on the bus while attemptting to stop current passengers from exiting the bus before their stop at Successville.