I love myself. I do. More precisely, I’m growing in the love of myself – learning how to care for me and accepting the challenge of bettering myself. Of course I also tend to think I’m a pretty cool person. I can only imagine the joy when someone discovers how thoughtful, insightful, creative and strong I am. I’m finding lately though that some people are really good at hiding that joy. Either that or it actually isn’t there….not always a pretty thought.
I’m not talking about arrogant expectations here, rather it’s the cocoon of narrow-mindedness that Bajan life can be sometimes. In a metropole like New York, it’s easy to feel alone – one of millions, everybody on their way to somewhere, doing something more important than you are. Quickly though, you meet people. That world of millions feels so much smaller – there’s your French friend to go to wine tastings with, West Indian friends to fete with, your West Coast Buddhist friend to hike with. Then your Math genius friend to philosophise with, your Pakistani friend to intellectualise with and your balding friend who teaches you sign language. The eclectic abundance not only means that there’s someone out there who has a deep passion matching your curious interest, but that all those someones are expecting you to be YOU – to present a perspective melded through your many unique experiences.
The snap-back to Bajan reality is jarring sometimes. I get the innocent but potent jabs and jokes from those who care, looks and snide remarks from those who don’t. Even I am sometimes tempted to cower rather than take the challenge of self-assertion. I haven’t had to flex these muscles in a while, to make such an effort to be me, to source a healthy dose of affirmation.
Yet in the absence of a fuller acceptance, of the city’s unending stimulation of the mind and heart, away from the buttress of rich friendships, I realize that I have come full circle. This doesn’t feel that different from when I’d first left home. And I remember what I learnt then – that the power to shape my reality lies within.
So Barbados, I love you – but ‘no thanks’ to that box you want me in.