I grew up in a predominantly Black neighborhood with residents coming from a variety of countries. Because of this, I naturally gravitate to people with cultural differences more than people I have a shared experience with. I meet people offering full acceptance of our differences, and I’m eager to learn and collaborate. You won’t catch me at an alumni meeting or city club, I’m always trying to connect with the most unlikely thing possible. Black people aren’t a monolith and we derive from a myriad of experiences, however, my interests and hobbies vary within and outside of what others (not myself) consider blackness. I write, I paint, I sing, I tell jokes, I like theology, I work in tech, I shake my ass, etc. I’m good at a lot of things, and I can connect with a lot of people because of it. At a very young age, I had a hard time finding my place in social groups or accepting that I didn’t have to pick just one.
This isn’t a blog post about being a person of color who likes many or White things. I think the narrative is tired, and we’ve all been exposed to popular culture in some form. Despite America lacking diversity on large media platforms for years and not fully showcasing minorities until now, I am more than sure all of us likes something that’s super White or counter culture. It’s not a compelling story to tell. Instead, I want to talk about not dimming your light or suppressing your talents for the sake of other people’s acceptance or emotional security. This is a blog post for people who want to be themselves without considering a person’s feelings.
I suck at self promotion. It’s mainly because I haven’t found a way to do so without bragging or protecting my assets or clout. I have a corporate recruiter that I have a great relationship with, and she brought it to my attention a few years ago. She told me that I’m way too humble in my interviews. This began when I was an adolescent. I always felt like I was in multiple cliques, mainly out of survival (everyone has some pressure to fit in, even if your affinity group is niche and small). Internally, my adaptability made me look disingenuous, and I would go to great lengths to prove my loyalty to whatever group I was entertaining at the time. I would have to play dumb or overcompensate to make everyone comfortable. My core group of friends have been present through every outside friend group and accept that I am an explorer. The issue always comes up when I connect with new people. They treat me like an anomaly. They are either skeptical, envious, or finding a way to take advantage. This became very common and because I wasn’t fully comfortable with myself, I would often shut down and not branch out (especially in college).
After college, my desire to fit in reduced. College benefits extroverts or people who fake it until they make it (neither are a bad thing), and I wasn’t aware of that until after graduated, so I struggled to commit to a particular group in undergrad. With less people around, I was able to spend a ton of time with myself and embrace who I desired to be. I also left my hometown almost tens years ago, and I was able to find myself without people from my past making comparisons and questioning my “new” self’s integrity. I don’t care about how they feel now.
I don’t have this all figured out, and I still get push back present day. I am too much for a ton of people. I am intimidating. I rarely babysit people who aren’t as sure of themselves (unless you’re a sweetheart), and I’m learning to not question it or feel bad about it. There’s a story of Jesus and the fig tree (I tell this to everyone). And in the story Jesus cursed the fig tree because it wasn’t bearing fruit. I look at my personality and hobbies in the same way. Whatever you don’t use, you lose. Don’t sacrifice parts of yourself for anyone. I’m not sure if I have any readers lacking confidence or still trying to find themselves, but if I do, really push yourself to own who are, regardless of what anyone thinks. Always strive to do the most, even if it makes the people around you uneasy.