The Tevin Campbell Syndrome

Do you remember when the new building went in downtown and you were overjoyed? It was 50 stories high, easily the tallest building you had ever seen in person. And you had gone down to watch the men working (they sometimes whistled at you), knowing that someday you would be able to go inside. Then someday came and you saw how spacious the lobby was. All the men and women hustled in and out of its doors, and you were one of them. You felt special. But then a year passed, and the building wasn’t quite as special anymore. You weren’t sure why until you saw that they were about to start construction next door. And it happened all over again. Your adrenaline got pumping, your hopes sparked, and before you knew it, there was now an 80 story building that had you enthralled. And the poor 50 story building, as grand as it had seemed, just faded in comparison, disappearing from your view. This is what I call the Tevin Campbell syndrome.

For a brief period of time, he was one of the biggest R&B acts in the world, but he never lived up to the increased expectations.

I’m sure you don’t even remember at this point who Tevin Campbell is, unless you’re a Generation Xer like me, but he was the seeming heir apparent to Michael Jackson in the 1990s. He was even being produced by Michael’s former producer, Quincy Jones, and had people writing for him the likes of Prince and Diane Warren. And he was good too. He had a soulful voice that could also sing pop at the flip of a switch. With slick producing, and a boy-next-door look, Tevin Campbell took us for a ride that included such hits as “Round and Round,” “Can We Talk,” “I’m Ready,” “Tell Me What You Want Me To Do,” and “Always in My Heart.” For a brief period of time, he was one of the biggest R&B acts in the world, but he never lived up to the increased expectations. We checked out the lobby, and it was wonderful, but a larger building was built that dwarfed him in comparison, through no fault of his own. That larger building was called Usher, and the neo-soul revolution.

And it’s happened time and again throughout the course of history. This was just one example of someone or something not maintaining position because of a rival who comes out of nowhere and takes over. I’ve often wondered how the ones who lost out feel after they’ve been replaced. Imagine you’re the top lawyer in your firm. Your billable hours are higher than everyone else’s, you win 90% of your cases, and you have a great record when it comes to settling out of court for huge amounts of money. You’ve been the top lawyer at your firm for five years, you’ve settled into the role, and you like lording it up over others. However, a new associate comes along who has more drive, more charisma, and better settlement rates. She also wins 95% of her cases that make it to court, and before you can blink, she’s been made partner and you’re still sitting on the sidelines. Through no fault of your own, you lost out.

There’s always something bigger and better out there. It’s inevitable.

You see, there’s always something bigger and better out there. It’s inevitable. Some of us go our entire lives being big fish in a little pond, so we think the world owes us something, or we simply take it for granted, like Tevin Campbell. The expectations were overwhelming, and life took a different turn for him, as it does for us sometimes. The trick is how we deal with those twists and turns, how we adjust to the person who comes along who is a bigger fish in our pond. Do we decide we’re now worthless? I hope not, because we’re not. We’re still just as incredible as we always were, even if others don’t see it because our sun has been blocked by a cloud. We need to, like Tevin Campbell, channel our energies into what makes us happy, despite the odds, or the other people who come along to steal the spotlight. Did you know that we can do a lot more from behind the scenes?

Sam

10 thoughts on “The Tevin Campbell Syndrome

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  1. So weird. I was just thinking about this today. I went into Guitar Center to ask for a job and play piano for a little while because mine has all gone to shit. I played a few of my songs, quietly. Out of the way.

    I got a little self-conscious, though. I should have waited to ask about the application thingy until I had done what I wanted anonymously. I left sort of feeling…little fish in a big pond. Like I have the ability and sometimes I love my writing and my music, and sometimes I think it’s all shit and why does anyone even read/listen to it?

    1. Interestingly enough, Tevin Campbell just finished a wonderful stint on Broadway where his performance was lauded. He still has the skills, and he is trying to get others to appreciate them again. It might not be the way he hoped it would be, but it’s a start.

      What you need is a start. I love your writing, and I wish I could hear your music. And I know I’m not alone. It’s not shit. But you have to believe it. And do something about it.

      1. I want to be open to starts. Like, any start, even if it looks unfamiliar or just not the way I wanted it. I feel like it is that thing where the universe is doubled over in the corner laughing at you because you want something SO damn bad and it is not going to give it to you simply for that reason. Yet, anyway.

      2. Yet, things change. People change. The universe changes. Your moon moves into Uranus. It happens. It’s all about making it the right time, seeing that it’s the right time, and making it happen. If you’re always open, you’re always ready, and you’re never frustrated because you’re BEING.

      1. I had a lot of things I wanted to say here like, thank you, and that was so nice, and I never sweat details except when I sweat that I don’t sweat details…

        But really. My soul doesn’t feel beautiful. It feels crumpled, like it just hatched out of an egg and now everything looks big and scary and it doesn’t know which way to go.

        Is that really weird, not to mention detailed, personal information talk about?

      2. Our souls are complicated, indeed. And the feelings you have are so valid and so relevant. I used to do dream analysis, and it all came down to the things we focus on, but not our conscious. Our subconscious. Those are the things that are important, the things that drive us insane, and we don’t even know it. I feel communion with your soul. I know how that feels. I’m sending you a soul hug.

        I’m here for you. And maybe you should sweat the details. πŸ˜‰

  2. My dreams make me sad lately. I am still reeling from the aftereffects of something that makes me question. That makes me…well, just sad sometimes. Unsure. More guarded.

    I’m soul-hugging you back : )

    1. Might I ask what event makes you question, and makes you sad sometimes? Thank you for the return soul-hug. Those are the best!

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Whose Wine Is It Anyway?

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Sara Furlong

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