Monti Washington walked through the crowd of students in the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center Monday, rapping lyrics about his life. He’s not your typical motivational speaker. Washington travels the country talking about his childhood struggles in a broken home in an effort to connect with students facing adversity.
After sharing his hour-long story of heartbreak and resilience, Lynn University students joined the speaker on stage to address their challenges. Washington passed on helpful advice for students today.
What inspired you to become who you are today?
I was told at a young age I wouldn’t amount to much. All those false narratives scar your mind. After overcoming depression, I realized that I could become anything I wanted. Now, it’s important for me to instill that same concept in the young people I meet.
What words of advice would you give young adults facing adversity?
Be confident and believe in yourself. I stand in the mirror each morning and tell myself why I am an amazing person. Also, hang out with the right people and take the time to find out who you are.
What motivates you to continue in this work?
My main passion is acting, and I used to spend much of my time focusing on that. But after visiting Kentucky University, that all changed for me. During my motivational speech, I noticed a young woman crying in the audience. Afterward, she came up to me and gave me a letter. When I opened it, I realized it was her suicide note. She crossed out the note and wrote on the bottom, “You saved my life.” After that, I chose to devote my time to this work.
Stop comparing yourself to people on social media. Comparison is the thief of joy.
How can college students better support their peers?
Get involved! Join clubs and get out of your comfort zone. Have courageous conversations with each other. We don’t look like our story. You may relate to someone, but you won’t know it until you have an open and honest conversation with them.
Is there anything you do in your daily life that helps you succeed?
I wake up each day and read something positive. That sets me up for the whole day. Although it’s hard, I don’t look at my phone for the first hour. I can’t stress that enough for young adults. Don’t start your day with digital communication.
Washington’s main takeaway for young adults—stay true to yourself and be who you are. Stop comparing yourself to people on social media. Comparison is the thief of joy.