Stripping My Ego: People Who Influence Me

Your ego is a false mind-created image of yourself. Our egos separate us from everyone and everything, causing us to be rooted in an individualistic way of thinking. This breeds superiority complexes (and even insecurities when our egos are threatened). The things we like and don’t like, the music we listen to, our physical appearances, our possessions, where we live, and all other things that have nothing to do with who we truly are and really have no meaning are what our ego is made of. Our egos depend on these things. 

But there are certain things that remind you of who you are beyond ego, the real “you”. They bring you back to a true sense of self and introduce freedom of self-expression. It can be a song, a friend, a celebrity, anything. This usually happens with our role models, influencers, or people we look up to. People we don’t even really know. For me, there are five people who have done a lot to help me remember who I am, keep me grounded, and remind me to stop living for society and start being myself. 

Erykah Badu


Ms. Badu had to be the first person on my list. Words can’t really even describe how much she influences me and how much of an inspiration she is. Her music alone is enough to put her on the list, but it’s more than her amazing, classic style of neo-soul and R&B. The essence of herself that oozes through her music and shows even in her clothing is what makes her special to me. Erykah Badu makes me feel okay to be different, to wear ankh jewelry to school and to have dreadlocks. She makes me feel good when I wrap my hair in vibrant fabrics and talk about spirituality and, most of all, she teaches me to never let anyone treat me anything less than what I’m worth. Never settle just because he’s cute and you like him, don’t ever think you need him, don’t ever doubt your beauty. 

Willow Smith


Willow is about the same age as me, and I remember noticing similarities between us since I was about 9. When she went through that “Whip My Hair” stage, dressing and acting the way she did, I was going through that too. Then a little later when I was going through a grunge phase, she was too. Then I remember looking into Buddhism and Hinduism and she started showing interest in that too. Around the same time that she came into realization about her being an indigo child and started getting into sacred geometry, I did too. Willow has always been undeniably herself, which is a way to live that I think we all would choose if society hadn’t forced us to believe that we need to be something else (that we need to feed our egos). Specifically now, she inspires me to be open about who I am, about what it means to be an indigo child and to not hide my determination to spread love and creativity to all of humanity. 

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill has helped me a lot when it comes to confidence. The thing I appreciate about her, the reason why she helps me with confidence the most, is because of how humble she is. A lot of the time we look up to people for their self-confidence but find it hard to draw inspiration from them because their level of security in themselves seems almost unattainable. But Lauryn is really honest about why she’s confident and honest about why she has her down times, which I love about her. She makes it easy and fun to love being you and to love being black. 

Amandla Stenberg


Besides the fact that I think Amandla is unbelievably gorgeous, what I love about them is how genuine they are. You can always tell that they’re not being fake and they don’t think they’re better than anyone. Like what I said about Lauryn Hill, Amandla is honest about their insecurities and gives real, understandable feedback to others about what they can do to feel better about themselves. It was around the time that they put out Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows that I started to really get into activism, and it’s motivating to see how they are always open to learning and admits that they don't know everything and can’t speak for everyone. It’s also motivating how they always speak out when they can, though. Plus, their name is beautiful. 

Maya Angelou

I inherited a love for Maya Angelou from my mother. I don’t know how young I was when she first gave me “Even the Stars Look Lonesome” to read, but when I did, I knew what I wanted my life to be like. Maya Angelou gives me a sense of what it means to be a woman, especially a black woman. She gives me a sense of what kind of woman I want to be. The fact that she’s a writer made her even easier to relate to. What I love most about her is how simple yet profound she is; she never seems like she’s trying to be something or say something, but just is that thing. I always thought of her as a grandmother, so you can imagine how I felt about her passing. I think Maya Angelou is the definition of grace, and always knew how to learn from and accept her mistakes. 

Who reminds you of who you are beyond your ego?