My sister pestered me all of the first week in January for a word of the year. I love my sister. My sister and I talk about feelings and everything else. And picking a word of the year fell under that umbrella that most people don’t touch because they are being cool. But my sister and I, we talked it over and we picked a word for me. The word is ‘Resurrect’.
To Resurrect. To bring back to life. To add new vigor. I feel like I need new vigor in my life. I have missed myself. I have missed my bravery. I have missed not thinking of failure as an option. I have missed not being black, being Muslim and being a woman.
I did not become black until I moved to Boston. I become a Muslim every time I come the US. Being a woman I learned about in my teenage years getting propositioned by men driving in luxury cars in Festac. The intersection of all three finally arrived in this past year with an awakening that jolted me and stole away my confidence.
I remember talking to my father about how much I was trying to be more but I felt I could not be more because of these obstacles in front of me. I never saw those obstacles before. Most people who know me can attest to the fact that I am a tad bit naive and a lot sheltered. Some of it comes from my upbringing and some of it is the choice I make not to overexpose myself.
Let me tell you that becoming black and truly beginning to understand what it means to be the ‘other’ knocked the wind out of me. It seems crazy that I say becoming black. After all, I was born with my skin. But I was raised in a community that looks like me. Class has always been more of a divisive issue than race. For me, I was never the ‘other’. I was the privileged.
To suddenly lose my privilege and find myself struggling to be seen the way I have always been seen has been a battle. I felt like the battle took my luster. I went from feeling golden to feeling inadequate. I developed social anxieties because suddenly it was hard to get anyone to have a normal intelligent conversation with me. No one ever explicitly tells you to your face that they feel you are inferior but they are many ways of speaking that don’t involve the mouth.
The hard part of being put down repeatedly was that I felt I was crazy. Certainly, I am getting the cues wrong. Maybe I don’t understand what is being said. Maybe I am overthinking things. Maybe it is me.
Maybe it is not me. And suddenly understanding that the battle is not just mine has made me begin to regain some of my luster. This is why I chose ‘resurrect’ as my word of the year. This year I want to be who I always thought I was; an intelligent young woman who would run the world. I have had enough of being timid and scared.