To feel truly and fully accepted is a rare gift. We all have foibles. Those ‘things’ we stress about inwardly and at times openly. Some may call it an ‘Achilles’ heel or even a fault. To the person who is feeling it, it can be life changing.
I immigrated to Canada as a baby from an island in the Caribbean Sea. Sounds grand yes, but in reality it has taken me some thirty plus years to come to fully appreciate how it made me different. I grew up in a great neighbourhood. I had great friends, no worries or concerns. I didn’t realize that I was different until midway through elementary school. I suppose that is when true socialization starts. Kids can be cruel without realizing that they are.
You have probably made the assumption that I am dark skinned. There would not have been a problem if I was. I am very light skinned with freckles and bright blue eyes. So far not so bad, until you add light brown, almost blond afro hair! It could not be tamed. My hair never grew long enough to braid or be scraped back in a bun! So it just flew around my head, free. I tried to keep it under a hat as often as possible, but it became a playground game to steal the hat off of the top of my head! I was called many names, teased constantly and often compared to a broom and they would try to pick me up to demonstrate!
I survived through the years, only developing one phobia... hairdressers. Some would think they would help, however, they would see my skin colour and assume they could cut my hair. Every time I would explain that my hair is afro curly and it ‘bounces’ back, and every time they would cut it too short until it stood up straight on top of my head!
Finally, in my twenties I met up with a hairdresser from the Islands who understood. She took the time to show me, teach me how to understand and deal with my hair. Becoming comfortable with my hair has lead to me being comfortable within myself which in turn has given me the confidence to show on the outside just who I am. This has also lead to an acceptance and even pride of my ‘rootz’.
My friends would say I worried for nothing, that they accept me as I am and they are true to their word. They have all seen me in my various hair states and I am comfortable with them, even when they tease me. There is a purely happy feeling knowing that you do not have to run to put a hat on because one of your friends is at the door.
That is one of the greatest gifts given to me!