This Chapter of my life is called growth.
I almost gave up on this blog. Not because I fell out of love with writing, but because I am being pulled in multiple directions. I almost gave up on this blog because I have big dreams that require major sacrifices. However, my sister became my alarm clock that I forgot I set the night before, yet it woke me up in the nick of time. She reminded me that if writing is my passion, it is not worth sacrificing. Writing indeed is my passion. It expresses who I am as a person, it has saved me from depression, and at times has been my best friend. Writing is the painting of my voice that I get to illustrate. So whether it is writing this blog, a journal, or a book, I will continue to write. My promise to my readers and to myself is that I won’t give up on this blog without bigger plans for my writing.
Now that we’ve got the sentimental stuff out the way, lets talk about growth.
I recall a few years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend from The Gambia. The Gambia is a small west African country bounded by Senegal, with a rich history and beautiful customs. My friend, lets say his name was Koffi for confidentiality purposes. Koffi and I were good friends, and as two Americans from west African origins, I was able to connect with him on a deeper level than I could with most people. There was a sense of being open and available to another person with Koffi, as I felt in return that he was open and available to me.
One day, we sat and discussed how beautiful our countries were. We discussed the popular dishes in our countries and debated these names as they vary in both countries (If you know, you know). I then mentioned how I could not wait to go back to Africa and reconnect with my culture. I was expecting Koffi to agree, as he hasn’t been back to his homeland for many years also. However, he expressed otherwise. He stated that he had no desire of going back to The Gambia. “Why not??” I awaited some elaborate answer that could justify why one would turn their back on their roots.
He simply replied , “I prefer America.”
I cannot lie, I looked at Koffi completely different that day. I was taught from a young age that our culture shapes who we are, as it is our main identity. Hating our own culture is shameful and it may cause clashes in our society. I hold the strong belief that our cultures should be protected and preserved in order to be passed to our descendants.
Fast forward three years later,
It is 8:30 am and I am reflecting on my conversation with Koffi as I shower. As I have traveled more, I have come to realize that if we look deeply, all cultures in this world are after- effects of the geographical, historical, economic, (etc) conditions and changes. Now I feel that if some sides of a culture are unhealthy or unreasonable to someone, it is completely up to the individual to give up that particular practice or culture and move on. It’s possible to appreciate parts of your cultural heritage and disregard what you do not appreciate. In Koffi’s case it is evident that he did not hate the entire culture of his origin, as we shared and appreciated many of the same cultural parallels. Cultures do not remain organic. They change and adapt and so do we. Koffi simply adapted to American culture which became a more comfortable fit. I did not know and I failed to ask if he experienced any trauma or adversities in his country of origin, but why was I so quick to judge?
I challenge you to do some self reflection today. Ask yourself where could I have been more effective in the past? Where could I have performed better in the role of X, where could I have been more compassionate? Where can I be more [insert adjective] today?
Personal growth is something that develops with time. We must work each day to ensure consistent growth. The truth is, some days you will achieve more growth and other days not so much. However, it is the continual drive to be a better person that will ensure consistent growth. Allow yourself to reflect accurately upon your progress and identify the changes you need to make.
“If you learn your lessons in life, as you get older, you will get better.” – Sommore