It took a long time to settle for my birthday theme. I had wanted to do something, write something—about growing up, finding myself, being, becoming. I scoured for inspiration from my surroundings, searched my mind for unrelenting memories, but nothing came; until I stumbled upon the quote (that is now my working title)– “sometimes, growing up means growing apart”, which reminded me of the fickleness of being; of how life demands that we learn, unlearn and relearn, about ourselves and about others. And how it is never so much about ‘many things learnt at once’, as it is about ‘one thing mastered in so many ways’.
You see, I have found that life teaches us its lessons in instalments. Everyday emerges in the midst of chaos that we must sift through to find our own voice, and sometimes, it takes over twenty years of being to realize that no matter what the world is saying, you are worthy; your voice is no less a miracle; and your purpose is not diminished by the sameness or difference you perceive between yourself and others. I didn’t have too many friends while growing up. I didn’t know how to keep them and i still don’t. So, our drifting apart seemed quite natural, because i was too busy figuring ‘how to be a great friend’ and they were busy getting impatient. But I am not as i am without reason, life divorced me from my innocence, and I took too long to fight back.
Childhood was made of pretty days. One of the joys of being a last child is you almost always get away with everything. And boy, did I! My formative years were built on a foundation that made me acquire the taste of true love and happiness. I quickly surmised that love was the color of life until I got into High School. Childhood escaped me introducing the stark reality that comes with teenage. The thing is when you are so little, everyone else seems so big. When breasts are fast budding on the bosoms of other girls begging the need to contain their possessions in sleek brassiers and stuff, you are reminded of your shadowy nipples that still lie behind the comfort-y caress of your childhood singlet. And don’t you dare undermine the depreciation that hits your self-esteem with this kind of knowledge, when you are a teenager, when you are a girl, and when you are me.
You become self-aware. You start to shrink. You learn alone-ness, and you talk less and write more. You start to shy away from anything that has to do with the effervescence that accompanies the knowledge of one’s femininity. Because teenage is that time when you practice being an adult, the time when you choose a path—to be a victim or a villain. I chose the former, or maybe it chose me. The girls were unkind, the boys were bullies; the seniors were a nightmare, the juniors mostly lacked the sense of respect. So, I unlearned the grace of love and quickly acquired the sense that life was full of unkind people, that love was not the color of life. I learned how little I was and how I didn’t look feminine enough—because no curves, no hills, no mounds, and too much muscles in my calf. I cried so often. I hated people, boys. Yet, I managed to misplace my heart inside a boy, then two, and then three, then some more—it felt good; until one heartbreak, two, three, then four… and I learned that love is inevitable, and people come and people go (most are not really made to stay), and nothing lasts forever.
These days, I still don’t have many friends. I am still a very little girl; I am rather very thin too, and have muscles in my arm and legs. I walk so fast, because I have learnt to run away from bullshit and people that bring it. I plug my ears to distance myself from the rot that spill from the mouth of people around me. I revel in music. I live on paper. And I am very much the same as yesterday but in a different way… because these days, I call my fears by name. Everyone is still saying so many things, but I have found my voice and I more than often listen to it alone. And I am finding comfort in my sweet-16 size and face, finding the balance between being cordial and appearing rude. And more, I am finding succor in the knowledge that everyone is breaking and in search of healing. Some heal by breaking others, some heal by closing up. So when people hurt me, I am not so quick to call them names. I get mad, yes; then try to put myself in their shoes, then I pause and pray for them because it must have been a tough call. Because when I hurt people, I break so hard too.
In the end, we don’t become who we are all at once; we take our time, lose some and gain some. Sometimes, circumstances demand that we leave some realities behind: people, places, things most cherished… sometimes, circumstances take us away from ourselves– the need to conform to religion, family, society, or be a little less different than everyone else; so that we find that growing up means breaking away, not just from people but from ourselves too.
And it will be painful, but it will be worth it, mostly.
Because, again, one thing life will teach you is– tear after drop of tear, pain after scathing pain; we learn how to stand, by mastering how to fall.
It’s 2103 baby!
Here is a big thank you to everyone participating in this series. And a special thank you to Sheedart and Su’. ♡♡
©The Short Black Girl, 2017.