Today we’d like to introduce you to Meta Sarmiento.
Meta, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in the Pacific Island of Guahan (Guam). It’s so small that you can’t even see it on a world map. I was conditioned to believe I was too small to ever do anything great. You know, the world is so obsessed with size, largess, grandeur. How could lil ol’ me ever do anything spectacular? In the 6th grade though, my Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Reglos tucked a note into my journal. It read, “You write beautifully. If you keep going one day you could be a somebody.” Sixth grade me was confused. First of all, I’d never had anyone show that much faith in me, ever. Second, I had no idea “writing” could be a thing for a middle school kid. I began my journey with words after that. Reading. Writing. I wrote a ton of crappy pieces, you could imagine, but I never stopped. I began to believe that my voice could possibly become something important. Eventually, after enough practice, I got to take my voice around the world. I’ve performed in Paris during the United Nations Climate Negotiations. I’ve taught a workshop in Bali, Indonesia. I continue to get on stages and teach in classrooms across the United States.
And so, here I am, the poet, rapper, educator; the lil island boy with big dreams. Some days I write quietly in my private spaces. Other days, I’m performing or teaching, making people laugh or cry. Ultimately, I’m just in love with words and how they can move people, how they can tear a heart apart and build it back up again. And I want to do this for the rest of my life: write, perform, and teach while elevating the communities I come from.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My road is equivalent to the streets where I grew up: rough and filled with potholes! Haha! Nothing about the path I’ve chosen has been smooth. I think I’ve had more struggles than there are cracks in the street. One of my biggest (ongoing) struggles was battling my own demons.
Growing up I wasn’t always allowed to talk about my pain or struggles. In our household, problems are supposed to be kept to yourself. You handle your struggles in silence. You take it all alone. As a result, I was very emotionally imbalanced and engaged in very self-destructive behaviors. Thankfully I made it through those storms by learning to lean on others when I needed to. I learned emotional and mental stability comes when you figure out how to empty your heaviness without harming yourself or others.
One other notable struggle I had was leaving home. I relocated to Denver, CO in 2016. Saying goodbye to everyone and everything you love is not easy. Moving to a city where you have no friends and no family is extremely difficult. The loneliness can get very heavy some days. And because I’m an island boy, moving away from the ocean to a landlocked state put an emptiness in my heart that even the mountains could not fill. But, a healthy bird must leave its mother’s nest. So, here I am building my wings.
Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I guess you could say I’m in the business of moving people through words? Audiences have commended me for my authenticity and courage in being vulnerable. I don’t get up there and act. I give my listeners an honest version of myself. I’m probably one of the most sincere performers people will get to experience. Teachers, from middle school to university level, have also agreed that I’m extremely good at holding space, at creating an environment that lets students feel safe, brave, and valued. My ability to connect with people on and off the stage, I think, is what truly sets me apart from others in my field. Anyone can put on a good show, but not everybody can leave a lasting impact.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
To be honest, I think I would have left Guam sooner than 2016. I love the island, but the amount of growth I’ve undergone since moving has transformed not just my work but the kind of person I am. Had I known I would undergo so much growth in such a small amount of time, I would have made the move sooner. Also, I wish I had learned to be kinder to myself growing up, to seek help sooner when dealing with unstable emotional states. I feel like it was such a stigma to talk about pain and vulnerabilities growing up. If I had found resources to help me through all that earlier, I would have avoided a lot of self-destructive behaviors. Ultimately, the most important thing I learned was to not deny myself opportunities to grow, to get out of my own way.
- Website: www.reachmeta.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/metasarmiento
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/metasarmiento