I grew up trying to fit in where I naturally, by skin tone and height, stood out. I remember trying to conceal the pain as they changed the lyrics from ‘It’s a brown girl in the ring‘ to ‘It’s a black girl in the ring’ with giggles and laughter; standing next to the fence and explaining I was just a darker brown not the same black as the fence. And hunching down under some mistaken belief that I could make myself shorter.
And non physically, I got knocked back on idea after idea that I tried to pursue until I stopped trying. I started a school newspaper (axed after 1 issue), cooking classes (surprising to think of now) and was determined to forge a career in writing (told to rethink).
It left its scars and when I was younger I used to tell myself off for being weak, for not ignoring what they said and for not being emotionally stronger. But with age comes wisdom and I forgave myself: I was a child, s**t happens and what is important is the lessons I learned and what I do with the time going forward.
I forced myself to stand straight. I learned to love the face that looked back at the me from the mirror. I started to see beauty and possibilities and not regret and unfairness. I learned that it’s ok to regret, be sad, be upset and to feel but that it’s not alright to dwell. I learned to embrace, mourn and move on with the lessons that life has taught.
It’s not a foolproof system or by any means or chance something with I do with perfection but it makes me appreciate the differences that make me, me and makes everybody them. And I am, more than any time before, completely comfortable with me, inside and out.
So in honour of tomorrow, I have attempted to note down 10 lessons of life that I have learned in 31 years.
- Make decisions and carry them out. Don’t ride your life on the wave of other people’s choices.
- Make time for the people that you care about and who care about you. Too soon you may loose someone you were always meant to spend more time with.
- It’s ok if you don’t match up to that ideal of where you thought you would be when you were a kid. If you still want what you wanted then, make a plan, work for it but don’t berate yourself.
- Someone else’s glory doesn’t take away from your own shine. Celebrate their success and use it to inspire you.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s temporary, you get over it and you’re left with a lesson you would never have got otherwise.
- Be selfish with your time. Sometimes you need a bit of time for yourself. Take it.
- It’s ok to be scared, sad and happy. Emotions are meant to be experienced.
- If you can’t use you key to get in the front door, learn how to cut a new key or try a different door. If it doesn’t work one way, try another way.
- Trust someone. Let there be at least one person in your life that you can be your whole self with.
- Love yourself.