Mum recently gave me some pictures of me as a kid for my book, and they got me feeling all sorts of ways, I can’t stop looking at them.
I haven’t really looked at any pictures of myself as a kid for about 20 years for various reason. I wasn’t a miserable child, and I received a tremendous amount of love from my family, I just want to make that very clear before I talk about any traumas I have surrounding growing up.
I look cute, right?! It’s funny to me to say that now because I remember being that age and hating everything about myself: my brown skin, my hair, my teeth, just everything. I knew nothing about its beauty because I was the only one that looked like me, so I didn’t feel normal; I felt ugly.
In my secondary school, there were 160 kids in my year, and you could count on one hand the ones that weren’t white. I had some class photos and year photos in an album, and I’d taken a marker pen and literally scribbled myself out of the pictures because at the time I was feeling some kind of way about the fact I didn’t look like anyone else.
I wasn’t really bullied at school. I did have some terrific friends, and we used to get into all sorts of trouble. Still, there was racism and, whether it was someone talking about the colour of my skin or my hair, I just accepted it, It made me feel like crap, but I never said anything because I was the minority, the odd one out and totally outnumbered.
It’s funny because I recently did some work for my writing where I wrote a love letter to my younger self – the girl in the photos I tried to scrub out – and I spoke to her about loving all of herself.
Firstly, I want to let you know that its ok to be different and it’s what will make us shine so brightly in the future.
I know you don’t understand so much right now, like why you’re the only one with your beautiful melanin skin or why is your hair so different to everyone else? These are some of the most amazing things about us, and let me tell you right now in the future our hair will be the envy of the town and people spend a lot of money trying to get the skin tone we were blessed with (they never quite get it right though and end up looking a little orange).
Stick up for yourself and be honest with people. If someone makes you feel sad or angry, you have the absolute right to tell them, you don’t have to put up with racist comments from people just because you feel like the minority and don’t have any power to do it anything. Your power is your voice, use it don’t keep things bottled up inside. Sometimes people need to hear that the way they treat you isn’t ok or they will continue to do it.
Having said that, not everything is a personal attack on you, sometimes people just say stuff they don’t mean, or because they’re not happy so don’t take everything so personally, learn to let things go, it will save us both a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights in the future.
I sometimes wonder why I’m so standoffish; we’ve got so much love inside our heart, if you start to show it more now, maybe I won’t find it so hard later. Express your love more, hug people, tell them you love them.
Our mum truly is a wonderful woman; she goes through so much through the years and sacrifices to give us and our brothers the things we want. Appreciate her and love her as much as you can, you will regret not having a closer relationship with her in the future. Also, I know your brothers annoy you but appreciate them more, you’ve got them for life.
I guess I should probably tell you to work harder at school. I’m not sure if you know it yet, but we’re not very academic, creativity is the key to our happiness. Doors are opening for us, but if you can hone in on this sooner, we can take over the world sooner. Writing, telling stories, and expressing our feelings is deeply passionate about, so do it whenever you can.
There is so much I need to tell you but don’t have the time. Everything will start to make sense in the future, but that doesn’t come for quite some time so until then take care, stay strong, be honest, open your heart to people and try not to murder your little brother.
Love Lizzy from the future x
If only I knew all these things back then or if I had someone like me, to guide me. I’m determined to use my voice to help make a difference in this world, to tell all my truths, so all the beautiful young people in the world know it’s amazing to be different.