I remember being the only black girl in my first-grade class.
My mom would send me to school with a head full of tiny braids, each with colorful beads tied to the end. I loved my braids and my beads until one day, a classmate came over scrunched their face and asked me:
“Why is your hair like that?”
That was the first time I really thought about looking different than my classmates.
Later on, when my mom picked me up from school, I begged her to take my braids out. I don’t even remember explaining why but I remember her sighing as she reluctantly agreed and sat me down to take them out over the next hour.
I had asked her to straighten my hair too, but that was a solid “no”.
I was stuck with my curly afro.
The next morning I was in tears over not wanting to go to class.
My dad has asked me what was wrong and as I was blubbering that everyone else had different hair than me, he stopped me:
“There is nothing wrong with your hair. You are beautiful the way you are.”
That didn’t instantly resolve my insecurity but did get me to class that day and it made a difference over time. The following years I began to care less and less about looking different.
As I became older and certainly as I entered adulthood I began to appreciate my differences and I’m not talking about braids and straight hair anymore.
In adulthood, it became moreso about differences in beliefs and how I wanted to live my life.
Topics like homeschooling or living abroad, or “the universe” kind of weird some people out. They think,
“That’s not normal.”
And it’s not really…
But I’m okay with that now as long as I’m living a life true to who I am.