A Letter to My Younger Self
A friend of mine sent me a message last week asking whether there was something I ‘d like to say to my 11-year-old self. She wanted to pass on that message to her own 11-year-old daughter, who is also mixed race (Polish/Nigerian, just like me).
It was a timely question, as I have spent the last couple weeks reliving my childhood experiences of growing up in Poland as the only mixed-raced girl in the neighborhood, before we migrated to Ireland.
The first thing I would say to myself is: You will become the woman you want to be. Before that happens, there will be some hard days…
There will be days such as the one when Mum will take you to the park and a group of young men will chase you down, calling her horrible names for having a black kid. You will be afraid, and humiliated. Those days will make the bond between you and Mum stronger; it will become unbreakable.
There will be days such as the one when your girlfriends will write a song about a black girl and sing it out loud in the school corridor for fun.
Those days will make you choose friends more carefully. They will teach you that not everyone is meant to be your friend forever. You will also learn how to forgive.
There will be days such as the one when you will walk from school and a man spits in your face, calling you a “nigger.” And you will keep on walking, with your head up high. Those days will make you even stronger. You will always walk with your head up, ready to take on any challenge without fear.
There will be days like those when people will stop you on the street to touch your hair and compare it to a sponge. And they honestly do not mean to hurt your feelings. “Like a sponge, right?” they will say numerous times. “Yes, I know,” you will answer back…yet you will feel so different and begin comparing yourself to other girls, all the while thinking, Will boys ever like me the way I am?
Those days will make you a cool girl. You will be the bubbly friend that boys and girl want to hang out with. Your time for love will come, and you will be desired with your frizzy curls too.
There will be days when the system will fail you. Days that will turn into months, where you find yourself in places you don’t belong to. When you will migrate and fall into an asylum process with your family, and you will feel like your identity is stolen. You will need to fight through it. When they close doors on you, just keep up the strength to go around the back. They will not believe that a poor asylum seeker has your capability. You may have no money, no home, and no freedom, but you will always have your inner power.
Time will pass, and you will show them all what you’re made of!
There will be days when people will disrespect you unintentionally, by not knowing what words are appropriate to use. You will become so strong that you will stand up and educate them with a brave face.
Your life will be a journey, but you will stay true to yourself. You will be focused on your goals and what is important for you. You will have a family and you will be loved. You will also have an exciting career and you will be great at your job, because you will become one badass woman whose experience has made her compassionate and real. Never think less of yourself, because you can do and be anything, and you have one hell of a story to tell.
I Love You.