The Journey

 

It was a looming figure,

the shapeless ones you see

in the dark enshrouded by a halo;

A halo with no recognizable source.

It was a ravenous beast

that pursues a lost traveler

in the deep, never ending woods.

It was the hidden poltergeist,

hidden in plain sight.

When it brushed by you

you knew it was there but

you couldn’t figure out where

—exactly where— it was.

It was the drop 1,000 meters below

as you stood on the very edge

with nothing but your

second thoughts holding you back.

So what was my fear?

Monsters? Ghosts? Heights?

No— nothing that tangible nor physical;

nothing that simple nor easy to overcome.

It’s always been the fear of being different.

The fear of standing out too much,

of being too black,

of showing too much of my culture.

My long intricate braids

were meant to tell a story.

Different tribes fashioning their

distinct hairstyles.

My colorful beads were meant

to be a symbol of my heritage.

“These are what we wear back home”

I’d explain to ears that were

never listening in the first place.

Curious eyes became resentful

and my confidence slowly

slowly, but surely, deflated.

“You look like a moose with those.”

“Is that horse hair?”

“That’s fake, isn’t it?”

Each and every time my ears

would flush, my cheeks would

become inflamed and my eyes

—my stupid, stupid eyes—

would give it away by

pooling up.

It became a recurring thing.

Me, feeling different and out of place.

Like a paper place amidst

expensive china.

Like a stubborn speck of dust

on Mom’s favorite vase.

Like an underdressed guest

at a prestigious gala.

My confidence snuck back up on me

after countless years of beating myself

and mentally hurting myself.

Of conforming myself to

those around me in their

uniform culture and bland

looks. It started as a mental

game I played, where I reminded

myself how unique I am.

The journey to self-acceptance

was a long, winding road

but I’m so proud to say

the end of the road is near,

and I’ve just pressed the brakes.

 

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