At the time of writing this, I have absolutely no idea what title to give. It’s a weird one, this topic. I guess it’s one of those, where you think only you feel it and saying it out loud (or putting it online) will make you sound crazy.
What I’m describing is feeling hyper-aware of your blackness and imagining the ways in which it can play out negatively in different situations. For me, responding to these feelings by point-blank avoiding situations is almost automatic. When it comes to holiday destinations, meeting new people, pubs, jobs etc. often my first thought is ‘will there be black people there’ which translates to ‘will I stand out, will people look at me weird, will I be racially abused’. It’s half LOL, half dead-serious because I know to a lot of people, it seems a strange thing to consider, but it’s a very real feeling for me.
I can’t pinpoint exactly where these feelings have come from. I think it’s a combination of being brought up black and African in the North of England and internalising experiences of my peers. I can’t recall experiencing any extremely aggressive, racial abuse but I am so fearful of if happening that I do whatever I can to prevent it.
I do wonder though, how long I can keep it up. Whilst I know I’m trying to protect myself, how long can I avoid potentially miserable situations? Because actually while I haven’t been through any of the extremes I’ve seen and read online, people have been racist to me in my home city, including black people. So it’s not like I’m safe anywhere, if that’s what I’m trying to achieve.
Trying to navigate life post-graduation is already a weird and wonderful process without the added complications that come with being the daughter of first-generation migrant, African mother. The expectations placed on me, as the first graduate of my family, are, as you can imagine, pretty big. And the expectations I have for myself aren’t exactly small but to be honest they aren’t exactly fully formed. I’m still trying to get to grips with the fact that my life no longer revolves around academia.
So whilst I’m trying to figure this out, I’m also battling with grand hopes my nearest and dearest has for me. The issue isn’t that she believes in my ability or that I don’t believe in it, the issue is that they are narrow and ultimately not what I’m interested in. I guess what I am interested in, regarding careers, doesn’t conform to the traditional roles of the past, doctor, lawyer etc. This is where we clash. We struggle to see each other’s ideas in the way we see them for ourselves. I can’t understand why she can’t understand why I want what I want or don’t want what she wants. And so it goes.
I don’t think this is new, in fact it’s definitely an age-old dilemma for so many young people with or without migrant parents. But it’s one I am currently experiencing. At this point, I guess the only way to overcome this is with the fruits of my labour – literally. Everyone understands the language of success, not least African parents, no translation glitch there. One thing I am certain of, is that the person that will be by my side to celebrate my wins, as and when they come, is my mam.
Looking back, I’m definitely realising the month of May was actually wild from start to finish. It started off as a regular, degular month, post-pay day high quickly superseded by post-pay day blues. I paid off my student overdraft and cut all my ties with my student bank account, almost two years after graduating, which was huge for me. I never needed to go into it, but I was tricked into thinking it was free money… Never again. So, after burning a small-but-temporary hole in my pocket to fill a larger ever burning hole, I felt great and that alone made my month.
Then about a week later, I passed my practical driving test! I had two awful driving lessons and the same number of breakdowns (emotional not mechanical) days before but by the grace of God plus clear, mid-day roads and never going beyond 4th gear, I DID IT! All the best drivers pass third time and that.
The third and final cherry on the May-cake was work-related. The long and short of it is that a job opportunity arose in London. For me, London has always appealed and just the thought of moving down filled me with both excitement (and dread). I made myself a small list of conditions that had to be met before I even considered leaving home and this new role meets them all and more. But even after accepting the offer, I am still so frightened. I’ve gotten very comfortable being at home but despite the million-and-one what if’s, I know in my heart of hearts, that this is an amazing opportunity.
Debt-free, pink licence holder and soon-to-be London dweller all in 31 days. WILD.
I recently listened to a podcast on ambition, it challenged the idea of ambition being some kind of hot-ticket personality trait. Especially in the age of #girlbosses and the rising appeal of entrepreneurship, ambition is seen as a must-have quality. The conversation drew upon how this it doesn’t (and shouldn’t have to) come naturally to everyone and not wanting to be the owner of a business empire at the age of 25 is ok.
But for some people who live with adversity, ambition is a lifeline. It’s what they rely on to do more, to achieve more. Why would you not want more than you currently have – or don’t have which is more the likely case? This is where ambition the driving force becomes ambition the burden. A burden accepted by many. To reject a want for better, to deny the burden is ultimately a privilege that many people aren’t entitled to.
The other side of ambition, when you’re from a disadvantaged background, is not being ambitious. Logically, it just doesn’t make sense. It seems unproductive and irresponsible. But what happens when you don’t want to carry that burden? Ultimately, it is a constant pressure and, in a situation, where deprivation is very real, desperation for success for not only yourself but potentially dependants as well, it can be unbearable. A cross too heavy to carry. To some extent its understandable but is it ok in the same way it would be for someone in a more *comfortable* life position? This is where I struggle.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about friendship, as in more than just I have them. Having left school and university last year, I guess I realised how education almost institutionalised friendship. And then not having these friendship-birthing grounds that I was so used to, made me think about it all.
One of the ups of school ending was leaving behind forced friendships. Those friendships that, in hindsight, didn’t mean very much and were more of a convenience thing. On the other hand, it also meant you could take forward the friendships that were actively and mutually nurtured, ones that you reckoned could withstand the turbulence that would inevitably follow in life after school. The latter I found very cool, growing in every way with a friend by your side, it’s so precious. These friendships have comforted me and helped me feel grounded as I’ve started #adulting, there’s literally nothing like reminiscing over high school dramas when you’re feeling a bit lost at 22.
In theory, the work place should be an equally fertile place for friendships, but I haven’t found it to be. Not in the same way anyway. The office is full of people from really different from me. I know the people in school weren’t all the same but having the same mad physics teacher, over-enthusiastic hymn teacher and a shared hatred for compulsory skirts in the dead of winter really helps with the whole bonding thing. All these feelings and experiences we shared over five-plus years gave us all a common ground, which to some extent isn’t there at work – especially not when you’re a newbie. Now, meeting someone at work that I have things in common with (which pretty much hasn’t happened) is weirdly so exciting.
I’m looking forward to meeting and befriending like-minded people. Equally though, I’m enjoying being in the company of people who are nothing like me. I definitely didn’t enjoy this at university, living and learning alonside people who were the total opposite of me was something that I found quite intimidating. In the work place it’s a different kind of difference between everyone. Everyone has a role of their own which is where maybe university was a bit of a struggle – everyone had the same ‘student’ role which created an illusion of equality where in actual fact there was next to none. People are a little older than me, seen more, done more and it’s been a surprisingly lovely experience even without questionable teaching figures and punishing uniforms.
This title is so cheeky, I waited nine whole months to read and it was on holiday AND I didn’t read anything afterwards. Titles aside, I hadn’t read for pleasure in years, so I really did enjoy reading again, both having the opportunity as well as the actual reading part. My reading included the infamous Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People about Race, internet fave Milk and Honey and a magazine I liked the look (and price) of in a book shop, Typical Girls.
For me, Reni Eddo-Lodge set out to explain the trials and tribulations of racism in all its ugly forms and the life-long struggle of not only living through it, but speaking out about it to an unreceptive, uninterested, white, British audience. The latter being the primary focus of the book. Her execution was brilliant. Having studied race-politics, I was familiar with the theoretical aspects, but I loved her blend of theory and real-life scenarios. Have recommended to all my pals.
I think I got the hype around Rupi Kaur and her poetry after reading Milk and Honey. It’s pretty raw and a million percent as deep as everyone says. I say think because something felt off. I don’t know whether the hype got my expectations way too high or maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the heavy themes, but I guess I was underwhelmed by it. However, I don’t feel like it’s a one-time read type of book. The next time I want to get in my feelings, Rupi will be my girl.
I remember starting my holiday reading with the magazine to ease myself into it all (lol). It was filled with loads of interesting articles about really cool people doing really cool things. The aesthetics were cute also. I went to the book shop to get a copy of the latest issue of So It Goes Magazine but Typical Girls won on that day and I’m glad it did. Maybe next time So It Goes.
I hope I read more than two books in 2018.
From the soundtrack to the style choices of each episode I don’t think there is a thing I didn’t love about this show. At a whole 22 years, I definitely don’t think I was the target audience, but that didn’t stop me from binge-watching season after season. No doubt the guys at Facebook have a ridiculously high standard to meet, I look forward to seeing them try!
The characters are intensely real; they’re young, dumb, fragile, confused, passionate and curious, exactly like I was as a teenager doing the figuring-shit-out thing. This relatability-factor is what made the show so, incredibly addictive. Every single ugly part of growing up was laid bare, never glitzy or glamourous, always raw, if not sometimes brutal. I could feel like Eva or Sana and at the same time recall the Vilde or the Even of my friends.
Of all the teen dramas I’ve watched (MANY), nothing compares. This show’s unprecedented success is down to the meticulous construction of the characters. They all got a insta follow from me, obv.