I had every intention of making this a generic intro post, however, as I started writing, I started thinking about how I could introduce myself while talking about something worthwhile and then it sort of came to me. Because this has been a topic that I’ve spent half my life fixated on. So I ask you – the public - is there anybody out there that has taken a good hard look at themselves and thought:
“you know what…there isn’t anyone quite like me”
And I don’t mean in the arrogant sense. Because there’s loving yourself and then there’s building a fort for you, yourself and you AND a mirror. And I don’t mean in the individual sense either. Certainly, we like to think that we’re one of a kind. Our parents are always telling us that we’re special – granted, they kind of have to. But I mean really. Have you ever thought that you kind of stood alone, so to speak?
As a child, I went to a multi-cultural primary school – although about 80% of the girls in my class were black. We were all pretty much kids – innocent, unassuming, jovial – until we hit around about the seven-year-old mark and the ‘influences’ - the ugly in the world - truly took hold. Slang entered our vocabulary and everything became a joke. Couldn’t let anyone catch you tripping up because it was funny. Be careful where you sat; never know when a pin might mysteriously appear between your butt cheeks.
Yeah. I look back on it now and realise that kids in my school – heck, kids in general - had a sadistic sense of humour.
Let’s skip forward to secondary school – where your personality pretty much starts to take shape and it’s an uphill battle for acceptance. Once again my school was mostly black, but in contrast, was all girls. I had a bit of a tough time during this period because I didn’t really fit anywhere. But groups were already forming. You had your ‘girlie girls’, your tomboys, your ‘obnoxious black folk'..etc, and I’ll admit, I started off pretty comfortably…until I got moved into the fast track class and my ‘status’ – if you will – changed immediately.
I have a thing about failure. I don’t like to fail at anything. I beat myself up really badly if I don’t deliver so in school, it was important for me to do well. NERD!! status was immediately attached to me because I listened in class, did my work and got fairly decent grades. Some people even admitted to me later on that they thought I was ‘stoosh’ or stuck up. At the same time, however, I pretty much sacrificed a social life.
I didn’t go to the chicken shop –insert eye roll here- after school with the ‘popular’ kids. I hated the concept of sitting at the back of the bus on the upper deck with the boys from the school down the road and around the corner. I didn’t shout or cuss. I wasn’t confrontational. I cried a lot – most of it in secret. I hated being different and didn’t understand why I was the way I was. People only wanted to know me for the answers to questions or called me in regards to homework assignments. They made fun of my hair, called me a ‘bounty’* and would have pretty much destroyed my self-confidence had it not been for the fact that I was an avid writer – they seemed to enjoy reading my work - who enjoyed performance art; I loved acting and played the piano.
And even though come my final year, I finally managed to find people who I could truly consider friend, I was still quite different. I didn’t wear make-up or earrings; didn’t care for fashion – still don’t. Wasn’t up to date with the latest songs and had generally geeky pastimes that I kept to myself.
College was more of the same and by university, I managed to accept myself and have others accept me too, but I still don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like me. I tend to have friends who I associate different parts of my personality with and I don’t think I meant to intentionally, but I find that I keep them separate.
My black friends will always understand that I am a black woman and will understand the isms associated with being black and being female. I once worked for SEGA Europe – enter the geek - where I share all my anime, role-playing and video gaming madness (a good proportion of my geeky friends, however, are online). There were the friends that shared my love for the gym and all things keep-fit. When I worked for a company called Eat Ltd – a culturally diverse company - my work colleagues saw me as English first and wanted to improve their English with me.
But even though, these people make up parts of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that encompasses it all. And as I’m thinking about it, maybe I’m not supposed to.
Growing up, I always thought it would be cool to have one group of friends who I could share everything with. I’d see these people from school, through puberty and the rest of it, right into adulthood and have that kind of history that makes you feel like family despite the lack of blood ties. I do have friends who I went to school with that I’m still in touch with now, but only one or two who I feel will follow me through life.
And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe I’m not supposed to share all of me with one person. Maybe these people are supposed to allow me to demonstrate the different parts of myself in a sense that they have greater appreciation for the part they share with me.
Or maybe I have too many interests for my own good.
All I know is, I don’t think there ever will be anyone quite like me, (although now that I think a bout it, an ex-boyfriend came dangerously close). So to all those individuals who do fit in and have generally found people with who they can relate all of themselves to – I’m glad for you. It’s possible that your childhood wasn’t tempestuous at all. But to all those individuals out there that might feel a little bit out of place, I say embrace yourself. You’re like a cake with many layers - or maybe even just one, but I’m sure you taste just as sweet.
*bounty = black on the outside, white on the inside.