Titi

Nigeria

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Beyond Three Strikes

August 18, 2018

I open the door, take a step outside, turn back inside, and run back into my room.
This was my story for a year before I solved me.
I wasn't always like that. I was fun, bubbly and happy.
I moved.
Not 'we' mind you, but 'I'.
I went to another place, no, country, continent even, and left the rest of me behind.
My story may not seem dire at all,as I merely left the comfort of home - Nigeria - and went to the United Kingdom to continue my studies. In fact, the ones I left behind might say I was being ungrateful as I traded a developing country for a highly developed one. Maybe I was being thankless, but they wouldn't understand the hurdles I had to go through to find the whole of me again.

It began with the stares,
Did my braids look messy? Did my skin appear ashy?
I was obviously different and there was no way to hide this, hide me.
To fit in, I had to play the game.
Win the game.

Strike one.
My breath hitches at any contemplation of leaving my room.
I need to eat, I need to meet people.
"They would stare at me" I recite over and over, so I convince myself to stay in.
I wanted to shut the world out, or rather, the world wanted me out.

Strike two.
I have to go for classes or my admission would be revoked.
I leave my room after hours of mental preparation,
it's time for introductions.
"They would laugh at my accent" I remind myself.
So I keep quiet and maintain my stoicism.

Strike three.
I'm not depressed, I'm just shy.
People like me don't get depressed.
I'm obviously an extrovert,
I just seem introverted to people that don't understand me.
Nobody understood. 

I realise now, that staying in solitude with my mind was poisonous.
There were never any stares (at least, not in the way I was thinking).
My tutors were not singling me out.
I wasn't in a battle against the world.
It took me a whole year to learn this,
different is good.
But, I would never have recognised this if I didn't meet them.

Two years later, I'm going back for a new session, and I've promised myself I wold look for me.
Not myself in the physical obviously, but another scared different girl with a constant look of fear on her face and teach her what it took me a year to learn:
there is no use trying to blend into the background, especially when you don't match the wall paper.
I would be her support before she goes beyond three strikes and she's out.
 

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