Here, there and everywhere

In the weeks preceding, this year’s MTV Video Music Awards were touted as a place of reinvention and re-emergence for two of the music industry’s biggest and most successful stars, Eminem and Kanye West. Both had spent the better part of the last year planning and producing new albums designed to reinvigorate their stalled careers.

West, as most people with the Internet and cable television know, famously interrupted Taylor Swift at last year’s show, earning the ire of most of the country and President Obama. He isolated himself from most of society for most of the next year, conveniently reappearing only weeks before Sunday’s big show, where he was slated to perform. Eminem was coming off the success of his latest effort, Recovery, which had been inspired by his previous flop of an album and a stint in rehab.

What was interesting to me was that these two artists had each performed multiple times on the same stage, but these performances were supposed to be the culmination of their individual processes of “reinvention.” And I wondered, what does it take to reinvent yourself?

Google “reinvent yourself” and you will get close to 151,000 results. Most of them are articles and tips on how to begin and complete the process, depending on what type of reinvention you are seeking. Careers, love life, mental health: you name it, you can reinvent it.

Which led me to my second question, is it even possible to consciously reinvent yourself?

For some people, especially celebrities like Eminem, Kanye West and Lindsay Lohan, who also made an appearance at the VMAs, it seems that traumatic and embarrassing events are the common force behind their reinventions. But for most people, myself included, reinvention seems to be a slow, unconscious process, brought on by the seemingly average and mundane events of day-to-day life.

The first time I set foot on the St. John’s campus almost four years ago, I was a radically different person. Looking back over the time that has passed, it is obvious to see the major points of my own reinvention, including last year, when I joined the Torch. It was definitely a gradual process, of both highs and lows.

But what really shocked me was the reinventions of the people around me, the people I had seen and lived with almost every day during this time. They had radically shaped my own transformation, but it had been hard for me to realize that they too had changed, some for the better and others for the worse.

The University itself has undergone a radical reinvention during my time here. From the new schedule to the seemingly endless construction to small things, like no trays in Montgoris, it seems as though St. John’s is trying to keep up with its students as they change and grow.

As I watched Eminem take the stage at the VMAs, I was reminded of a night in 2007, when my new friends and I crowded into a dorm room in Donovan and watched as Britney Spears came out for what was supposed to be her own performance of reinvention. Horrified, we watched as her comeback failed miserably and she left the stage in defeat.

Sometimes, a reinvention will be more of a setback than a step forward. It may take several tries before an individual or even an institution like St. John’s can truly transform themselves into what they desire to be. While that may seem like a daunting task, it is nothing to shy away from.

Reinvention should be a personal journey, with no pre-determined results. It should be born out of a need to change, to adapt, to grow, but to also maintain. And sometimes, reinvention can mean staying exactly the same.

Kanye West’s performance at this year’s VMAs was a moment of unparalleled anticipation, with viewers and fellow entertainers alike waiting to see how he would make his comeback. Performing on the stark stage, primarily by himself, he stole the show from its original mistress, the meat-wearing Lady Gaga. Everyone waited eagerly to see what he would say, what song he would perform and if Taylor Swift would come running onto the stage.

In the end, Kanye’s song of reinvention was more of a reaffirmation. He is without a doubt one of the most talented rap artists ever, and fully aware that he is also one of the most self-centered, egotistical celebrities in Hollywood. He has taken a journey, he has adapted, he has maintained.