Giorgia, my little sister turned 8 a few days ago and she reminds me a lot of myself at that age.
Don’t be disheartened by the the differences your friends point out about you. Being the only mixed raced person on my dad’s side of the family, I often remember my cousins saying “your hair is so puffy”. Even though they were just stating a fact, to me it felt like there was something wrong. As an 8 year old my differences caused me to want to desperately fit in. I remember I once went to the extreme of putting vanilla yoghurt in my hair so that I could have golden, shiny hair like them.
Looking back. Children just state the obvious. Yes, I may have had big hair. Now that we’re all older, I realise that they actually like my hair. You don’t have to be the same as everyone else to be loved. You just need to be yourself.
This is a lesson that can be taken all the way from birth to adulthood.
A few years later at the age of 14, this time with the cousins on my mum’s side. One of them said to me “Imani you are not ghetto enough to be in this family”. This time instead of putting yoghurt in my hair in an attempt to be the same, I realised that’s why they like me. We are now all a lot older than when we first started playing together. We have changed and grown, some of us have jobs, university or children. Yet we still have cousin sleepovers. We all have our little thing that makes us like each other more.
Perhaps the most difficult thing that someone has said to me is that I was “old” or “boring”. This was at the age of 18. It hit me hard, someone I respect was saying I had changed and it wasn’t for the best. I had reached a cross road. Was I to attempt to be another person’s version of ‘fun’, or was I to stand my ground and be ‘boring’?
I decided that changing my personality for the benefit of others is not at all constructive. I was in a good place. The year before had been a disaster. My AS levels were shameful, at 18 I was finally getting on top of my studies. Change is not bad, just make sure that you’re reasons for change aren’t to your detriment. If this results in a person not wanting to associate with you anymore, maybe it’s for the best.
Also a big shout out to the Modahl/Edwards/Leiva family and Frid, who is the big sister I never had. I’m lucky to have a family that are also my friends.
Also I think it’s worth noting that, me not changing for other people didn’t ruin any relationships. It just created an understanding of the person I was becoming. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to adapt.
Love you all x