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This is Wiz...errr, hey everybody, this is Dave. Boy oh boy, where to start with this piece. How about why I introduced myself with two names. Like most artists, (I write and rap) my music persona and my regular self, are truly two different people. Sure they complement one another but rarely do the two mix. Allow me to explain...

Growing up, I always wanted to fit in. I mean ALWAYS wanted to fit in. I would try so hard to please whoever it was, friends, family, teachers, coaches, etc. And a lot of times, if I didn't get that verbal affirmation, it would crush me. My self-esteem and self-worth were shaky at best. I am not sure where this came from, I was privileged enough to grow up in an affluent two-parent household attending private school. My parents were together through my 18th year and always showed me love and support. But something wasn't right.

OK, a little history. I went to an all-boys Catholic high school in Seattle, so we are talking macho men, so to speak. If you weren't good at sports or had girls around you, you needed something else to fit in with your peers (note: this was not true of everyone, just the culture itself). So what to do...what to do? Well, I also grew up loving music, especially hip-hop, another very macho culture. So during my junior year in high school, I started to write lyrics. Nothing amazing or earth-shattering, but good enough that some people started to notice. All of a sudden I had worth! Or so I thought, right?

Fast forward to my 20's, the best time of someone’s life right? Quick highlights: I had my first girlfriend (which ended up being a disaster), my parents had split, I was still living at home with my mom, and I gained even more weight. Through it all, I kept working on my music. I wasn't very good. To be honest, listening to it now, it was BAD, but it was giving me some sense of self-worth, so I stuck with it. I connected with some other local Seattle artists, some you might know of, Macklemore, Grynch, Geo of the Blue Scholars, etc. We all kind of came up together in the Seattle hip-hop scene. I recorded my first album at Mack's "studio" (it was a tiny bedroom in a house) and released it in March 2007. I sold out Seattle's Nectar Lounge with my CD release party. I was played on Seattle's top radio station, KUBE 93. I was performing all over Seattle and the surrounding areas. I was so happy! I was miserable. People said great things about my music! People bashed it. Girls started to show me interest! I was constantly in the friend zone. I loved myself! I hated myself.

See, I told you this is complicated. Self-love was never organic for me. And still to this day it truly isn't. I try to tell myself things like, "look what you have accomplished? Look at how many people love and support you." But then if I don't get 50+ likes on an Instagram post my whole mood dampens. Or I do get over 50 likes, but the certain people I want to like my post haven't. This is a constant battle for me. A few months ago I did a photoshoot with my "Me First" t-shirt on. Guess what? It got a ton of likes & comments. But guess what? Not the right people liked it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! So this is where the Wiz/Dave dynamic comes into play.

Wiz is the confident/cocky guy. He is the guy who excels in situations when it comes to recording/performing/hosting events. Kind of like the past four years, working as the On-Field MC for University of Washington Husky Football. Yeah, getting over 70,000 fans riled up during a game works wonders for the self-esteem. And then it's over, and I leave, err, Dave leaves, and I critique myself. "Oh crap I looked so fat in that live shot!" or "Wait, why didn't more people take pictures and tag me?" and "Why didn't more people tell me 'good work!' throughout the game?" You see? How exhausting is that? 

It boils down to me, using my music moniker, Wiz, to help bring myself up. But the inevitable crash, usually when I become Dave again, brings me back down to earth. It's so hard balancing this. Some days are great, others, not so much. My point in sharing this is that you never know how or why someone feels the way they do. So is my sensitivity a weakness? Is it wrong to be emotional? Do I need to go to therapy? I don't know. I wish I did know. But what I do know is that I won't stop. I won't stop fighting to prove to myself that I don't need Wiz to feel good about myself. I don't need artificial love. I need self-love. I need to put ME FIRST, realizing that I am good enough. I matter and I am loved. So hopefully one day, Wiz and Dave can mesh into one confident, self-loving individual. My struggle isn't unique. I have spoken with others, friends, and family, who have felt a similar way. Sharing gives me strength and hope. What I do know, and will never forget, is that my imperfections are mine. My confidence should be rooted in what I have, not what I want to attain. Because anytime we reach for something that is unattainable, we fall back...into right where we are supposed to be.

By: David Mazzeo

David is the Alumni Director, Football Coach and Moderator of the Rhythm and Poetry Club at O'Dea High School in Seattle, Washington. He has been releasing music under the moniker Wizdom since 2006. He loves creating music and hyping up the crowd as an MC. Check out his music on your favorite streaming source, just search Wizdom. 

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