Op-ed: 5 Life Lessons I Learned From Jinkx Monsoon

By Anthony Armstrong

Originally published on Advocate.com May 08 2013 5:04 AM ET

Whether you were going into the RuPaul’s Drag Race finale on team Roxxy, Alaska, or Jinkx, if you paid attention to the social media buzz surrounding the show, you weren’t too shocked when it officially became Monsoon season. It didn’t take long into the season for the Drag Race audience to throw its support behind the unique and entertaining brand of drag served up by Ms. Monsoon. But behind the comedy, catnaps and Little Edie were five valuable life lessons.

1) Don’t Underestimate the Underdog
A few months ago, most Drag Race viewers likely didn’t think Jinkx would make much of an impact in the show's history, let alone crack the top three, and certainly not take top prize. To be fair though, Jinkx warned us all a few episodes back: “Don’t underestimate me, I am a force to be reckoned with.” Now she's sitting on $100K. We all could do well to remember how all too easy it is to get caught up in workplace politics, family and friend drama, and relationship baggage.  Before you know it, you have spent all your time and energy focused on the threats in front of you, and meanwhile the elusive underdog has swept that promotion, best friend, or boyfriend right out from underneath your feet. The lesson here: Wasting time, energy and inertia on trivial rivalries, senseless competition and gossip only create missed opportunities for yourself.

2) Authentic Realness Counts
Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, Jinkx always stayed true to her authentic self. From an outside perspective it was apparent that Jinkx walked into the Drag Race work room for the first time with a strong sense of self and knew what she had to do to rise to the top: be herself! She knew her brand, her skills, and what she had to offer would raise her to the top. Perhaps the hardest challenge in life is finding what we were individually meant to do, who we were meant to be, and who we authentically are. It’s not an easy process and anyone who says it is, is a damn liar.

3) It All Really Is Water Off a Duck's Back
Personal mantras carry more power than most of us realize. They don’t have to be anything profound or worthy of being tweeted by Oprah, just a little phrase to get you through a rough time. To anyone who has never attempted this self-help method, hearing Jinkx repeat “Water off a duck's back” over and over again during judging may have had you wondering what kind of crazy was going on. But try it out. If a particular meeting at work makes you want to pour hot coffee down your pants, think of a few words to say to yourself to diffuse the situation in your mind; just a few words to take comfort in. One of my personal mantras comes from Drag Race alum Willam “Indifference is greater than hate.”

4) There is Always a Chance for Redemption
In both personal and professional situations, it’s easy to be defeated or accept perceived flaws as permanent. Sometimes it’s easier to give up than to put hard work into self-improvement. But again Jinkx has shown us that even in the most chaotic, hectic and foreign of situations there is time for self-reflection and improvement. After a rocky few weeks in front of the judges, particularly Michelle Visage, Jinkx took the comments and criticism handed to her and stepped up her runway looks all while still staying true to her character's nuances and quirks. Even in the chaos of the competition Jinkx took the opportunity given to change and do better and won over Ms. Visage.

5) You May Be Victimized, But You Don’t Have to Be a Victim
Whether through unfortunate family situations or unwarranted bullying at the hands of her fellow competitors, Jinkx Monsoon could easily play the role of victim, blame others for her challenges, and spend her time hating her bullies. It could have been easier and more entertaining for Jinkx to drag out a rivalry with Roxxxy Andrews (refer to Coco Montrese and Alyssa Edwards) and shout down a big “I told you so” from the Drag Race mountain she is now queen of. But instead, Jinkx makes the choice to see her way through adversity and spread positivity. Instead of fueling a feud for the sake of good TV, Jinkx chose to be the bigger person in the competition, in interviews and through social media.  Instead of going for the pity vote, Jinkx stole the show sticking to what she does best… making us laugh.

 

ANTHONY ARMSTRONG is the development manager and grant writer for the Center For Drug Free Living Inc., the largest AIDS service organization in central Florida. Armstrong is also a founding board member of the Zebra Coalition, one of the first full continuum of care housing programs for LGBT youth in the United States.