Journey of Resilience

Micah Dawanyi: A Journey of Resilience and Self Expression
6 mins read
Micah

We interviewed Micah Dawanyi who’s an entrepreneur, author, and coach. Although throughout his journey he’s experienced his fair share of adversity, he’s been resilient and unapologetically chased after his goals while also being an inspiration to everyone around him and everyone who has read his story. Enjoy our conversation below!
You decided to write your first book. Why did you feel like books were the best medium to tell your story?
I don’t know, I guess writing was the creative medium that spoke to me most. I’d probably make songs if I could sing, but God didn’t give me that gift. But I’ve always liked writing since I was a kid, so I knew I’d be able to actually put something quality together. That was important, because I’m not the type of person to do anything that I’m not confident in.
I think I was also fascinated by the idea of putting together a writing project that wasn’t for a grade. Most of my writing up until that point was for school. Research papers, essays, things like that. So with a book, where there was no rubric, no “right or wrong” way to do things, I had the ultimate freedom. That idea really intrigued me.

Who are some of the writers you’ve looked up to?

In terms of cultural impact, writers like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Trevor Noah come to mind.
In terms of the pure enjoyment of reading and storytelling, Jeff Kinney and Henry Wrinkler come to mind. And lately, I’m also starting to pay attention to this popular author named Colleen Hoover. I haven’t read much of her work yet, but I respect the audience she’s built. Whenever she drops something, she has a whole community, hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) excited to read her new work. I’m not chasing fame necessarily, but I’d love to build up a big audience like that one day. Especially because I use my writing to talk about important societal issues, I guess I just want as many people as possible to hear what I have to say.

What’s your favorite book you’ve read and why?

I’d have to say “Voz: A Journey in Manifestation” by this author named Sebastian La Rosa. It’s like a collection of poems, essentially. I love that book because it’s only 25 pages, so it’s very digestible, but the content is so thought-provoking. The book just deals with so many interesting topics: mastering patience, seeking self-understanding, finding your purpose, and embracing the nuances of life, to name a few. I often find myself going back to that book, even if it’s just to reference one or two lines.

Micah

You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction. Which do you generally prefer and why?

Fiction, easily. The fictional space is a space where you can bend reality to your will, because it’s not real. Fiction gives me more space to push boundaries because I can take a simple concept from my life and use my creativity and imagination to expand on the idea. That’s what I did with my latest book.
I also think people learn best when information is presented in a digestible way. Some of the realest lessons I’ve learned came from stories, whether that be in music, in movies, or in books. It’s kind of like hiding the medicine in the juice, at least for me. With my fictional storylines I try to embed important lessons and themes for readers to think about; maybe even to offer them a different perspective. I think that’s more effective than trying to preach at people.

You speak about mental health in your books, do you feel like this is a topic that Black writers don’t cover enough? How do you cover it differently from other writers?

I wouldn’t say it’s not covered enough; I just think mental health information is continuously changing. Mental health conversations and experiences look a lot different now than they did even ten years ago. But I do think that because of the stigmas that unfortunately plague the black community, there could be more done to cover the different facets of mental health.
With my writing, I cover the topic uniquely by focusing in on very specific aspects of mental health. My new book deals with the dangers of emotional suppression, and the way your environmental influences affect your perceptions of mental health. That’s a very specific and unique way to discuss mental health, as opposed to just generalizing with a few educational facts about the mind.

One of your books is a memoir. If the memoir were to be turned into a film or television series, is there an actor you would most want to portray you on screen?

That’s funny, I can’t say I’ve ever thought about that, to be honest. But since my memoir covers my life experiences up to the age of 19, it’d have to be someone young. I’d probably say Jalyn Hall from All American; I think he’d do a good job.
But, to be honest, I think there are enough live-action projects out there that deal with the darkness of racial trauma. I’d be much more interested in turning my fiction book into a live-action project, like a film or short series. I think there’s a lot of space for unique, black stories that aren’t always tied to racial injustice.

Micah

What made you study psychology as a major?

Well, at first I was enrolled as an Exercise Science major, but I ended up hating most of the science classes, ironically. I guess I was more interested in the exercise part and not really the science part. So I met with a few advisors and went over options, and found this dual-studies program that allowed me to get into psychology. I’ve always been interested in the mind, and where behavior comes from. And a lot of people were telling me that I’d probably be a great psychologist, so it made sense. I guess I’ve always been someone that friends could come to for advice and support, kind of like a psychologist.
Actually right before I abandoned the Exercise Science major, I had taken this intro to psych class, and it was there that I was sold.

When looking at your work in coaching and public speaking, do you see yourself as a leader? If so, who are some leaders you admire? What traits did you pick up from each leader?

I kind of do, and I kind of don’t. I do think about leading and inspiring others, and of course, through certain aspects of my work, like coaching, I’ve been in direct leadership positions. But I also just see myself as another member of the community, just trying to do my part to make the world a better place, I guess.
When leaders come to mind, I think of people like Colin Kaepernick. I also think of Nelson Mandela and Nipsey Hussle, even though they’re gone. The traits that stand out to me, that I’ve seen in those leaders, are integrity, respect, and intelligence. Integrity is a big one, for sure. I feel like all of those leaders stood for something, and stayed solid with their beliefs and everything they tried to do for their communities. That’s super respectable to me.

You’ve dealt with a fair share of adversity. Some of which stopped you from playing sports from a young age. What are some tangible things you did at the time in order to keep pushing and not give up?

I prayed, a lot. That’s something important to me; praying through hard times. During times when I didn’t know how to move forward, all I could do was ask God for the strength to keep pushing. But I also looked for new things to pour my energy into. The medical issues that stopped me from continuing sports forced me to look for my purpose in something else that wasn’t being an athlete. I joined school clubs, I started a business, I got a part-time job and started working; I just tried things. I think as long as you’re continuing to try things, continuing to stay open-minded, you can keep pushing through your life obstacles. Hardship never as to be the “end all, be all.”

What are some upcoming projects you’re working on that you’re excited about?

I have a music compilation that I’m gonna put out that basically matches the sequence of events in my latest book, which I’m really excited about. It just gives readers a look into some of the emotions, feelings, and themes in my book, but through music. I’ll be releasing that soon. It’ll be on Spotify and Apple Music.
Away from that, I’ll just be continuing to write, but I don’t know when I’ll put out another writing project. I can’t really force the writing; it has to come to me naturally. Usually I’ll have to write like 6-10 different ideas before I find one that really sticks. We’ll have to see what I come up with.

What are some words of advice that you’d give to someone reading this?

Just do things that you love. I feel like so many people are doing things based on other people’s perceptions, or levels of social media engagement, or God knows what else. Just try something that you genuinely love, even if you don’t know where it will lead you to.
Never stop being curious. If you look at my life and story you’ll find a lot of random career endeavors, hobbies, and passions that don’t always intersect, but that’s the beauty of life. There’s always room to expand, which is why I’d say stay curious. There’s always more to learn, more to think about, and more areas to grow into. Don’t ever limit yourself.

 

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