Originally published 9 June 2017
How are you? Are you here for the first time? If you are, welcome! Did you read my first post? If you did, welcome back! Or are you here from the future…..me, having become a published writer and author and you, intrigued in the beginnings of my story? If so, welcome to the past! Ha! I dream…..I really do.
Before I waffle on, I just want to say that I am enjoying this process so much! Writing my story and my thoughts, and moving down this lovely new path in my life is so special. My heart is full and bursting with how much I love this.
There is something else I must say before I properly launch into this week’s post. I am thinking of all those affected by the recent horrors in Manchester and London…and in fact throughout the world because let’s face it these atrocities are not just happening here in the UK. I do believe that love and kindness are the key to the world being a better place and when I see how much love there is out there and the determination people have to carry on in response to these tragedies, that gives me great hope. Spreading love and kindness is a good thing but I’m starting to feel like there is more I can do. I have one particular idea that I need to get started on. I’ll be sure to let you know if anything comes of it.
Right, grab a cuppa…….
This is my second attempt to write this second blog post, trying to pin my thoughts and feeling down, to explain where I am coming from with this new journey of mine. My first attempt at this second post, went a little too deep I feel and the tale I was telling was not just mine to tell. I suppose writers come across that quandary again and again don’t they? To tell or not to tell. How much of reality do we draw upon and how much do we relay, in an effort to be truthful about our own story. It was hugely cathartic writing it all down. Organising my thoughts no holds barred has uncovered a theme which I can write about now without being revealing about anyone else’s stuff. That theme is identity.
Identity is a biggy in anyone’s life isn’t it? Who exactly are we? Where and with whom do we belong? Where do we fit in and do we have to compromise our morals or standards to do so? What morals do we live by? Why are we here? It is in fact such a big topic that I am going to veer away from philosophising about it here in too deep a fashion. I am just going to relate it to my struggle. It has been a struggle and I suspect it really began when, at the age of 12, just before my teenage years began, my family and I moved to Kenya.
I was hugely unhappy about moving away from my friends, my extended family, my school and my city. I was certain about what I was leaving behind and so uncertain about where I was going. When I got there a very different life greeted me and I was so shaken by it. I can say that our family dynamic was very fragile at this time. Leaving behind the diversity of London to live in a country where I was different in other people’s eyes was a shock. I did not know my new national or my tribal language and I did not understand the culture. I became acutely aware of being scrutinised and watched because of the colour of my skin. Although there were of course ‘others’, being mixed race and having a white parent made me stand out. People were interested I suppose but others ignorant and tactless. I was told I was not English but Kenyan because my father was Kenyan, but all I had known was England. These feelings intensified when I eventually went to school after being home-schooled for 6 months.
Here began a self-consciousness and a need to adapt to who and what I was in other people’s eyes, possibly in an effort to end this scrutiny, to be the same, to fit in, to survive. That first year was the hardest of my life. But by the end of it, I was a teenage, Christian, Kenyan school girl (I feel there should be a theme tune along the lines of ‘teenage, mutant, ninja turtles!’….light relief…) and for 7 years this remained so.
I should say the beauty of Kenya did not escape me and although it was a difficult time, I am so glad I spent time in my second country.
I moved back to the UK to attend University and how I had missed my home! Only I wasn’t home, I was in Hull and my parents were left far behind in Africa. My identity crisis was perhaps only evident to me. Who was I and what group did I now belong to? I spread myself thin at University, chose numerous ‘identities’ and adapted accordingly. I was a psychology studying, rugby playing, christian union representing, Black British identifying, African society attending, University student and I got lost in all of that. I did meet some wonderful people who are still part of my life, but for the first time in my life I was called a ‘nigger’ by a group of men in car. I had been called a ‘blackie’ on the streets of London when I was younger, a ‘mzungu’ (white person in Swahili) in Kenya more times than I can remember and also in Kenya, to my peers, I was a ‘point 5’, as in 0.5, denoting that I was half of one thing and half of another. The latter was not intended to be derogatory in any way but it categorised me and labelled me as different.
I moved to London after University and felt I had truly come home. I reconnected with old primary school friends, who had lived a life I felt I had missed out on. Again, I adapted to this group and made decisions in order to fit in. I felt mothered and looked after by these sweet friends, which I really needed at the time. This was the best move of my life. Within this group, I found my sweet man, who I am married to and with whom I have 3 gorgeous kiddies.
And career? Work? The manifestation of my identity struggles can be seen in my work too; trying out, chancing upon and being convinced into certain jobs and along certain career paths, but never really sure and not quite sticking to anything for too long. Moving on and reinventing myself again and again. That’s it isn’t it? I am good at reinventing myself! I’m not knocking it. There is a skill to it and there is a strength in it. But now I desperately want to settle.
Being openly labelled in my life, the lack of confidence and the uncertainty I have had in who I was, has lead me to attach more importance to how other people see me and therefore more importance to who I am to others, as opposed to who I actually am and who I want to be. I have been out of balance, wanting to please others, to be accepted, without perhaps thinking about what I really wanted. My struggle has been to get back to me and decide what I want. But I’m here now and living a creative life and doing it my way is what ticks my boxes! Do check out this fabulous, inspiring lady if you have a mo. Allison Sadler is all about ‘Freestyle Creative Living’ (there is a hashtag and everything!) and I have totally and with all my heart joined that party and you know what? We’re all invited!
If you have read my first blog post, you will know that I had an idea of what I wanted to be when I was 7 years old. I feel very certain about this journey and very open to where this path may take me.
Who am I? A big hearted, nature loving, soul searching, happiness hunting, kindness spreading, peace seeking, story writing, craft making, connection wanting, city dwelling, countryside dreaming, ever evolving, mixed race, creative woman, mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and human being. But whose labelling??………..
Big love and thanks for reading lovelies. Tell me your thoughts in the comments if you fancy or over on instagram is fab too. I’d love to hear from you!