I am not throwin' away my shot
If there is one person or character from popular culture, real or fictional, that I truly identify with, it is Alexander Hamilton from Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical
How did I come to know about Hamilton?
Like many others, I discovered
Hamilton through a chance encounter on Bumble with someone who claimed to know the lyrics by heart. Intrigued, I set out to listen to the musical, curious to see what all the fuss was about.
However, as someone living in India in 2018, finding a copy of the soundtrack was a challenge. Fortunately, platforms like YouTube and Spotify made it possible for me to access the music. It wasn't until the COVID pandemic hit that I was finally able to watch the full production on Disney+ (Hotstar).
Hamilton, particularly during the early stages of my post-college career, proved to be therapeutic. For years now, I have made a habit of waking up to a
Hamilton song as my alarm tone.
I would not go deep into what makes Hamilton special as you'd see countless articles and opinion pieces online on how great it is and how much of a legend Lin-Manuel Miranda is or how this show is a mix of musical genres including hip-hop, R&B, rap battles and about its diverse casting. Okay I said I wouldn't go deep into it, just 1 sentence.
What I would like to instead discuss is about why I love it so much and listen to it on a daily basis, focussing on the elements that speak to me.
Smart & Ambitious
Ah man, this guy is too ambitious, too intelligent, too hard working with strong opinionated beliefs. He strives towards achieving his goals, seizing all the opportunities he has been given. His nemesis Burr himself acknowledges these attributes in the musical. The song
My Shot is a good recommendation to get a sense of how ambitious he is and a powerful reminder that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
(Super) Honest, Outspoken
Hamilton is portrayed as a man who is unafraid to speak his mind. Be the opening number My Shot where he declares his intention to make a difference in the world.
His super honesty is often times something that you'd not expect anyone to do in any position.
For example - in
The Reynolds Pamphlet, Hamilton publicly admits to having an affair with Maria Reynolds and publishes a pamphlet detailing the affair. While this revelation damages Hamilton's reputation, he is portrayed as being willing to tell the truth about his actions, even if it means facing the consequences.
Or when Washington is stepping down as President and shares with Hamilton that Jefferson is planning to run against him, this is what Hamilton (in the play) has to say
Whatever you say, sir, Jefferson will pay for his behavior
Shh. Talk less
I’ll use the press
I’ll write under a pseudonym, you’ll see what I can do to him
As someone who values honesty, I admire Hamilton's commitment to telling the truth, even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. I strive to emulate his fearlessness in speaking my mind and standing up for what I believe in, even when it may not be popular. I actually take pride in being honest, and have gotten into troubles myself and (incorrectly) judged as being mean or asking deep personal questions or sharing my extremely personal opinions to someone stranger.
Hamilton is never satisfied with his circumstances or the way things are going. In fact, one of the central themes of the show is the idea that Hamilton is never satisfied and is always striving for more.
For example, in the song
My Shot Hamilton sings about his ambition to make a difference in the world and achieve greatness:
I'm not throwin' away my shot
I'ma get a scholarship to King's College
I prob'ly shouldn't brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish
The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard
With every word, I drop knowledge.
Similarly, in the song
The Room Where It Happens Burr expresses frustration with being excluded from important political discussions and negotiations (some frustration I frequently complain about at work), something Hamilton has access to (something I guess even I would have access to, more than my peers):
No one really knows how the game is played
The art of the trade
How the sausage gets made
We just assume that it happens
But no one else is in
The room where it happens
His sister in law Angelica also expresses her frustration with Hamilton's constant desire for more and his inability to be content with what he already has. She acknowledges that he is always chasing after something else, whether it's fame, power, or something else entirely, and that this drive can be exhausting for those around him, one of such cases being in the song aptly titled
Throughout the musical, Hamilton is shown to be constantly pushing himself to achieve more and make a difference in the world, often at the expense of his personal relationships and well-being. While he is certainly confident and ambitious, he is not always satisfied with his circumstances or the way things are going, and this dissatisfaction drives him to keep striving for more.
Well, above sentences are exactly what my brother would describe me as.
Hamilton is also shown to be flawed, struggling with issues of pride, insecurity, and emotional vulnerability. From what he's been described by others in the musical, one could easily judge him to be arrogant and full of himself.
Hamilton is ambitious, could be seen as smug or to have lot of pride; outspoken, honest, opinionated - all things I try to strive for. For me, Hamilton is a call to action, encouraging me to be brave, ambitious, and unafraid to take risks in pursuit of my dreams.