When You Are No Longer An Immigrant

Credit: Paramount Digital Entertainment and LXD Ventures
Credit: Paramount Digital Entertainment and LXD Ventures

A while ago I came across this video (Coming Out of Your Shell) and my heart did weird things in my chest (like it could do them anywhere else) because I GET IT! You should check it out. If only I had talent with the rest of my limbs and REAL co-ordination, I could create such beautiful visual things… *sigh*.

For a lot of my childhood, I was an immigrant in various places. And language has always been a “problem” for me. Apparently I used to speak Portuguese before “proper” school (lived in Mozambique at the time) but my mum would pinch me (or atleast I think that happened… but it may have been something I made up to make my loss of something so beautiful mean something) because she wanted me to speak English so I lost that right quick. I have an ear for languages but my tongue sits in my mouth like gum at the bottom of a shoe when I try and make it obey other linguistic rules. I cant even do slang properly. I am terrible at trying to sound “street”. Terrible… but I am running off the rails again. Lets get back to topic.

I have generally always had a good “command of English” and it made my mother proud but it didn’t really make me fit in (and what child trying to be normal, doesn’t want that.. or rather, that was the norm at the time, attempting to stand out didn’t really make you special). Among my own countrymen I couldn’t be a part of their private jokes and stories because I could not speak my own mother tongue or any other language from my home country (technically, English is my mother tongue because that’s what my mother used “on me” but “biologically”, my father is Tonga and my mother is Lala, both from Zambia) . My mother didn’t want my siblings and I to be “polluted” by the local languages we were bombarded with because that affected the sound of our English so we were a purely English household except when my parents wanted to share something between the two of them.

“Why didn’t you just teach yourself?” Might be a logical question and to that I would respond “Have you met other children?” They are brutal. Trying to speak a local language when you “look like it should be easy” but sound like a well meaning although ill mannered tourist is torturous and if you do not have the self esteem to ride through the bullying, you give up. Which is what happened to me, I gave up trying to learn my own languages and tried to ace “exotic” sexy languages like French and make sure no one else could “out-English” me, this was of course ridiculous.

I love the sounds of different languages and while I don’t have the same kind of negativity towards my parents languages, there is still too much residual failure in there for me to seek out teaching my tongue to move in that way at this point in my life. If its something my children want to learn in the future, I will not block them and will do everything I can to provide the tools necessary.

The problem with being an immigrant for so long is that even when you return home, it doesn’t quite settle on the bones in a way that truly fits. It may be comfortable but its not entirely “made to measure”. I know I found it easier being an immigrant when it was obvious that I didn’t belong than justifying why I didn’t belong because I looked just like everyone else.

I hope you find your own tongues and come out of your shells. You can only be the best version of you, you choose whether that best version is a watered down version of someone else’s expectations.

O&O

Level Up – Another Message from Anna Akana

I cant remember the source but tis inspiration for an abandoned project. If the pic looks familiar, let me know so I can update this post.

So,

Firstly, I have no direct affiliation with Anna Akana. I am featuring a number of her videos so I need to put that out there, our only connection is in my mind and her cat collection freaks me out but I think we would have awesome conversations over stuff… non Batman related stuff, that’d be a black hole into nothingness… but I feel like I am running away from topic here.

Own up to what you really can do. That’s today’s video.

Sometimes it is bloody hard to keep a grip on what you know is important because so many other things keep getting in the way, do you know the feeling? You set off roaring at the start of something and before you even get to the first bend, you lose all steam and it seems like everyone you left in the dust took over while you blinked… or as you stood holding your aching sides expelling what you think is a lot of effort?

What have I imaginarily (its a word in my head) held onto lately? That I am more productive than I actually am. And I come to the crushing realization that I am not in fact an organising machine even though I tout myself to be (in my head).

When it comes to the work I am paid to do, you bet your kushy toushies that I will be on top of everything! What I need to know is rarely more than 10 minutes away and if it is, then I was probably the wrong person to ask in the first place but when it comes to my personal stuff, I feel like I am losing a spark. I am Smeagol searching for My Precious and even though I know it was stolen I wont stop looking where I know I wont find it. Does that make sense?

This is my positive space so I will not mope or have a pity party (people I know in real life have that pleasure, weep for them). I believe once you realise that you are getting in the way of you not being your absolute best, your own fabulousness, you need to do something about it. And that’s it at the end of the day. You have to be the person that says, “Yeah… what I did back there? I know I said I would go full throttle but I didn’t really dig deep enough to even fire off a cylinder and I am going to do something about that now.” Whether that now is a day, a year or a decade later than when you intended on doing it, once you own up, put yourself in a position to actually claim your awesomeness!

And that’s the hard part, actually accepting that the person you want to be is who you can be. In my part of the world, maybe even in yours, as liberating as the idea of following your dreams and doing what you love is, you need to remember to “be responsible”. Your pay cheque means a lot more than your happiness because your pay cheque is going to help out a lot more people than your happiness will. And I don’t mean in a metaphorical, do good with a donation here and there kinda way, I mean you’re going to see a chunk of your salary going to some cause in the family that will help other people out, sometimes its people you don’t mind, like your parents or siblings, other times, its a cousin in a remote village that you never speak to but calls you to ask you to buy a phone and you cant remember if she even has electricity to charge the phone! In such moments, you cant help but lose sight of those lofty goals that could make you impoverished but happy because other people rely on you to stay where you are for them to be comfortable, and if you are like me, that pull at being needed is a pretty binding tug.

But how long can you sustain living for responsibilities you never asked for? People treat us how we allow them to treat us (and I know this is a deviation from the video but I am already so far ahead, where else am I gonna go?) and you need to decide when you want to stop making other people comfortable with and in your misery. Then, organisation will be your best friend. You need to plan how you will make yourself proud of you and that will be work, deep, “gouge your eyes out in frustration” work at times.

Get to the finish line you want to hit, but know that there is one heck of a climb between now and then, and part of that may mean alienating the same people keeping you where you are now, and when you think of it that way, maybe it isn’t so bad after all.

Over and Out!

Imaginary Tea – Own Your Perfection and Be Thankful

 I'm Going Far and Wide
I’m Not Sure What Path I’m Taking Here

 

So…

I’m working on a few short stories and that’s a first for me, I usually handle one project at a time because I thought it allowed me to “give it my best”, but that means I kill ideas because I don’t feel “ready” to flesh them out and that could be a cop out (most likely is). So right now, I am trying to tweak three stories for my first collection of short stories and I’m working on two half stories that involve running away and travel but they are so raw, I have no idea where they are going.

But I digress, today I am sharing two videos because last week I didn’t put up a post. And this week I am typing this while drinking a cup of green Japanese tea. My stash is almost done, nooooo!

First up: When Your Boyfriend Asks You to Strip For Him . Oh my word! Can I just say how much I ‘gasmed over this? I honestly don’t even know. I felt my stomach lurch and my heart flutter when she reached the end, and I swore at her… many times! How dare she make me feel all these damn emotions! Granted I re-watched it multiple times and shared it with everyone I know who would share my feelings. Why don’t we (women) love ourselves more? Why do we project our (imagined) faults onto our partners? I sadly find it very easy to depreciate myself in front of other people especially my physical appearance (not my mind, since I am posting its produce here, overinflated view of my mental abilities). My flesh and bone is “distinctly average” and sometimes I find it hard to believe someone would think I am the sexiest woman in the world because… “c’mon!” Like this morning, I was trying out some yoga and I noticed cellulite on a part of my thigh that I didn’t know it collected and cringed but was fascinated by the fact that it wouldn’t matter to “my person”. Granted I haven’t shown him that particular pose so he hasn’t seen that cellu-pocket (as I like to call it) but wouldn’t it be great if we could see ourselves the way the people who love us see us? That would be amazing. Allow yourself to do that. Somehow. Don’t become an arrogant git but own your “perfection”. Coz we all have a dose of it, so don’t binge but take a sip once in a while.

The Little Things is just a reminder to keep our eyes open to the good things that people around us do. Sadly I can often “miss” the nice things and to those nearest and dearest to me, I love you spades and boatloads. I am thankful for having you in my life and even when I can’t physically help you, know that I think of you, and your nuttiness drives me and my fiction. Whether I am escaping from it or drowning in it.

Thank you so much for getting to the end, I know this is very random… watch the videos. They’ll distract you from the lack of direction going on here.

Over and Out!

Imaginary Tea with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ms Adichie knows something...
Ms Adichie knows something…

So…

The video I would like to share is here;

First confession: I love Ms Adichie (I feel so cosmopolitan using Ms).

Second confession: I haven’t read any of her books (yet).

Now, seeing as I love her why wouldn’t I devour her books? After all, her art is an extension of herself and I love reading her interviews and watching her speak. (Laying on the excuses now). Well, I did come to her party late. One of my younger sister’s is into stories that have a “deeper” moral compass and if they have an African Or African-American theme even better. I bought this sister Half of a Yellow Sun as a birthday present one year and I didn’t have any intention of reading it because it was not “my thing”. I preferred either pure escapism through fantasy or history that was culturally different to my own. I found solace in gasping at the horrors other societies inflicted and didn’t want to learn any more about how African’s did it.

But the truth is, I was escaping her work because I thought it was another example of how African writers should write. Insert village, un-pronouncable (I decree that a word) names and then make the story about a struggle that usually cannot be wholly felt by most contemporary Africans. I believe we are more than that and I wanted more examples of contemporary African story telling, which I could not get anyway because I shunned stories written by African sounding names, which is terrible I know.

I stayed in my father’s village as a child one holiday (I have never had so many nosebleeds in my life but learned holding your head over burning sunflower seeds cauterizes your nostrils and stops bleeding for a few years at least), and I cannot base all my work on that one interaction when it isnt ingrained in who I am, yet any time I came across successful African writers, that is what I found. You needed it to be rural and lay it on thick. But those rural locales are where my family stems from and is a part of me but not the part that comes to mind immediately when I define myself. But this post isnt about my identity.

I feared that if I read her work, I would try and make my writing more “African” to be successful. That is not the content of the video (and you should really see it, if you haven’t), it is what I would talk to Chimamanda about if I were to share a cup of tea with her. Identity.

The video is about being a feminist. I believe generally society holds women a lot morally upright than they actually are. This post will end up being a lot longer if I keep going, and I did promise these would be short, but I will say that when the time comes for me to be a mother. I hope I do not forget that I want my sons to be as self reliant as my daughters and my daughters to be as practical as my sons. We shouldn’t continue to hold our daughters as mass nurturing mammary glands because not all women want or should be having children. I hope when my daughters are of an acceptable child bearing age that I do not suddenly expect grandbabies to fall from their wombs at the risk of their dreams. May my sons know value above financial success and most of all, may my children have a sense of humour, because they will probably need it to survive having me as their mother.

Check out her new book Americanah. I will be reading this one soon…just need to borrow it from the sister.

Over and Out!

Imaginary Tea with Anna Akana – How to be Alone

anna akana

So…

I love characters (and people) that have something to say but don’t shove it down your throat with some kind of moral authority, add that with a quirky personality and you have my heart. Right now my major internet crush is Anna Akana, here’s her youtube page.

The video that moved me this week is here: How To Be Alone

As a child I was not a social person. I preferred my own company because it required too much effort dealing with other people and I hated small talk (still not a fan). I wanted to talk about “serious” things and other kids really didn’t, so even if I hadn’t chosen my own company, it would have been thrust upon me anyway.

One of my teachers thought I was abused at home because I was “too quiet”. My mother was grilled about my “home situation” during a PTA meeting when I was in the third grade, and afterwards asked me if I was OK (and happy). At the time I couldn’t think of why I wouldn’t be happy, everyone had problems including me but I was OK. In the end, what I took from that conversation was that I (and how I presented myself) was a problem, and I needed to fix that. My solution? Become more involved. After the third grade there wasn’t a year that I wasn’t involved in at least three extra curricular activities, in some kind of leadership role and smiled while doing it. Thing is though, I would much rather have just gone home early, read a book or written some story about something that was vaguely true and been internally satisfied. Instead I saddled myself with a perpetual people pleasing that I still struggle with. All because third graders are supposed to be noisy.

I only started fighting my people pleasing ways in university. Which isn’t really a good time to be fighting what defines you and led to my degree taking place at two universities and took twice as long to complete. Not fun when everyone has you pegged as an over achiever, so in the end, you appear to be a failure.

Letting other people’s observations become your reality is guaranteed to keep you wrapped in unhappiness. I really just should have learned how to express my desire for alone time instead of pretend I didn’t engage in it (if that doesn’t sound suggestive)…Obviously not in third grade but after then, instead of devising more methods to prove how social I was when I would rather not have been.

Over and Out!