I’m a First Gen

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Hello, my name is Paula and I am a First Gen.

What is a First Gen?

A First Gen is someone who is born in a country their parents migrated to. My parents were born in Nigeria, I was born in England. Therefore, I am a First Gen.

What is significant about being a First Gen?  

Being a First Gen is hugely significant because you have to learn to combine two (sometimes even three) totally different, and often clashing, cultures. Your friends at school are allowed to stay out all night and go raving or partying, whereas your parents at home have a set curfew for you and expect you to go to night vigil with them on Friday night. See.. clashing. Being a First Gen is significant because you have to carve your way through life incorporating both aspects of who you are and where you come from.

What is a common struggle you, as a First Gen, have had to deal with?

When people ask me where I’m from. To which I reply confidently, “London.” Then they say,

“No really! Where are you from? Like from, from?” And I reply a little uneasy

“umm.. London.” They then arch their eyebrow, tutting and shake their head whilst waiting for me to try again.

“No, we mean where are your parents from?”

“Ohhh! Nigeria!” 

“So, you’re Nigerian…”

“What me? No, I’m… No, I’m British Nigerian.”

The struggle is real. After years of this same exact conversation I’ve taken to answering the initial question with, “I was born in London but I’m originally from Nigeria.” Saves time and energy.

Do you consider yourself more Nigerian or British?

I pray no one reads this and condemns me, saying I’m disowning my country, decieving myself, trying to be white… I’ve had enough of that over the years. Simple answer: I feel more British (*draws a breath in quickly*) and let me explain why.

I was born in London. I’ve lived here ALL of my life so far. (In a few months I am taking a huge step and relocating to Sheffield to study.) The only time I have ever been to Nigeria was when I was aged 2 or 3 (My mum cannot remember the exact details and obviously I don’t remember because I was a baby) and I stayed a couple of months. A tiny holiday to the Homeland when I was an infant does not quite equate knowing, living and understanding Nigerian culture. I cannot even speak my language of Igbo (shoutout to all my Igbos!), I cannot even imitate a Nigerian accent so how can I be more Nigerian than British???

I will say, however, as I have grown up, my Nigerianness (yes, I made that up) has also grown because I have become more interested in Nigerian culture. The food (!!!), the politics, the movies, the music and the fashion. But I still do not know enough to contest with my British culture. I am learning more and more and I love learning more and more about Nigeria. Yes, I am not white and yes, I am British. Yes, I am British and yes, I am also Nigerian.

What’s one thing you hate about being First Gen?

I hate that your parents feel the need to pin all their hopes and aspirations on you.

“You were born in this country, why cannot you not go to Oxford or Cambridge?”

“You will be a medical doctor/lawyer in Jesus name, amen” *prays intensely*

“You have all the opportunities in the world in this country and you want to become a fashion designer, an actress, a journalist. You’re trying to kill me, isn’t it?”

Like no. Maybe I don’t want to go to Oxford or Cambridge (they don’t do Journalism anyway!!) and what’s wrong with being a fashion designer. Obviously, not all Nigerian parents or First Gen parents are like this (Thank God my parents are not (fully) like this) but it is a large majority.

The worst thing is when you’re First Gen and the eldest sibling…………………………………

What is the best thing about being a First Gen?

Life is always fun. When you’re a First gen, life is full of spice and variety. You might have fish and chips for lunch today, then gari and okra soup tomorrow. Or you might have a roast dinner on Sunday or ackee and saltfish with home-made dumplings. Life is different everyday because you are ALLOWED to pick and choose bits if both your cultures. I repeat, you are ALLOWED to pick and choose as you like. I know this one girl who managed to incorporated Nigerian tribal clothes into her everyday wardrobe. She’d literally be wearing black skinny jeans with a crop top created from her mum’s gele. Talk about being a proud First Gen.

I love being a First Gen, despite the daily struggles we may face. One thing most First Gens will agree is, being a First Gen means your parents will not let you fail. Let me rephrase that, you are not allowed to fail (by fire, by force loool).

I got the idea for this post when I watched the trailer (below) for a new show called First Gen. It really got me thinking and made me realise I am a First Gen and totally PROUD. I also did the Nigerian Tag (also below) with my younger sister, so check that out too.

 

 

Udo na ịhụnanya (That’s ‘peace and love’ in Igbo, we thank God for Google translate lool)

Paula Melissa xx

My day at a deaf youth event – VIDEO

You can find inspiration in anything, especially when you do not expect to find it. My mum invited me along to a deaf youth event she was asked to speak at. I went along, not really knowing what to expect. I left that evening with inspiration and a whole new perspective on a side of life I didn’t really know a lot about. What better way to explain my day, than in video form. Enjoy!

I really did not know anything about being deaf, sign language and everything of that sort. It feels good to have my eyes opened.

In many parts of the world, deaf people are somewhat segregated, hidden away in small colonies. People do not expect them to have a life, do not expect them to be funny, beautiful, inspiring people. This saddens me because of course they are.

You can find inspiration in anything. Even in people you have never really known about. Even in people who cannot hear.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

Why does everyone blame the media? Twitter rant

Nowadays, the media never get cut some slack. Everyone takes the liberty of bashing it, repeating the many wrong components of the media. What annoys me about this is that, the media report and promote essentially what people care about and what people want to know about. Sadly, this is generally bad news. I am not saying this is a good thing, because obviously it is not, but how can we blame the media for the negative things that happen in the world when the media is virtually constructed by us?

I have always made it know that I plan to pursue a career in the media as a journalist. I say this with pride because I think that a job where you are paid to write about life and the world is amazing. The media conveys information and communicates it to people. Obviously, there are people at the top of media institutions who are pulling the strings to personally benefit their selves, but overall, we construct the media. It aims to write stories that people want to read. It aims to film reports people want to watch. It aims to broadcast information that people want to hear. I do not believe that the whole institution of the media should be prosecuted for the bad things you see on your telly, especially when you’re the one who wants to hear about it.

I think our society needs to prioritise good news just as much as we do the bad. Of course, it is important to know about murders and terrorists attacks and things like that, but what about young people in business? What about women who are on the verge of changing the world? What about developing nations who are making amazing advances every single day. If we cared more about those things, and less about the negative of this world. If we cared less about global politics and religious wars and every country thinking they what is best, the media would be a lot more respected for it’s work.

And it should be respected. The media takes us to places we would never be able to reach, without even needing to leave our bedrooms. It makes us aware of the struggles people face, but at the same time, it should make aware the victories people make. If we praised the good the media does, we would get more people going into the media and communications professions with ethics and values, with the intention of bettering the world. And less going into the sector to make money from people’s misery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just my thoughts! I was on fire briefly, but I have cooled down now lol.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

Youth on Abuse

I feel proud to be a young person whilst writing this post.

I feel proud that there are young people making a change and standing up for what they believe in. Inspiring young people is my passion, which is why I am always quick to praise and promote some encouraging, like-minded youth.

Suraj is seventeen and the founder of ‘Youth on Abuse’. ‘Youth on Abuse’ is a recently established campaign which aims to educate young people on the realities of domestic violence, through workshops at high schools and primary schools. Its primary focus is to highlight any stereotypes young people may have about victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, whilst allowing pupils to understand the forms that abusive relationships may take. This includes understanding its financial, sexual, psychological, physical and emotional shape.

Domestic violence can be such a hard, emotional subject to discuss. It can take a lot of courage to openly discuss and examine the issue. I think ‘Youth on Abuse’ is an amazing group because it demonstrates to men and women that have had to deal or are having to deal with abuse and violence, that we care. We as young people care about the problem and we are committed to deal with it.

Recent surveys reveal 40% of teenagers are already being subjected to relationship abuse. Both my parents are marriage councillors and they always say at their seminars, “Do not allow your marriage or relationship to be based on fear or dread of the other person. Get out of a relationship where you are being abused.” I totally agree but at the same time, I am not naive to believe that it is always as easy as packing your bags and leaving. That is why I respect this charity, for being a voice for people who cannot speak out.

The ‘Youth on Abuse’ aim to lower the amount of people subject to relationship abuse by implementing three elements of their strategy: Protection, Prevention and Education. They aim to fill young people with knowledge that will carry them through their adult lives and therefore positively influence them when building their future relationships. If from young ages people can learn that certain behaviours and certain acts are not okay and are not expectable in our society, we will see a significant decrease in domestic violence and relationship abuse.

“A few people have raised the issue that because we are a young group who aren’t specialised in this topic, the campaign won’t be effective.” Suraj says, completely aware of the criticisms ‘Youth on Abuse’ has received. “But I think it’s about being open to a neglected issue within our community and beyond, not necessarily being qualified. So I guess our greatest weakness is our greatest strength because the campaign puts emphasise on young people interacting with other young people on an ignored issue.”

I am a such a romantic, which means I love love and the idea of being made specifically compatible for that special someone. Domestic violence and relationship abuse is the worst thing because it takes away that joyful part of your life, and makes it a burden that you have to carry. If you genuinely believe that everyone deserves true love, as I do, you will support this campaign.

Please follow ‘Youth on Abuse’ on twitter (https://twitter.com/YouthOnAbuse) to keep updated with the movement.

Peace&Love

– Paula Melissa xx

let it go, let it go

My last post was rather emotionally driven – more of a spur in the moment thing – and I have considered deleting it many times, but for now I’m leaving it. I think that I’m leaving it because I understand the importance of writing personally and being myself. This is a lifestyle blog, and death is a part of life – that’s my reasoning behind it, basically.

Anyway, on a happier note, here’s a short funny story my friend told me yesterday. It probably isn’t the funniest thing in the history of comedy, but at the time (In a painfully boring English Language and Literature lesson) I was crying actual tears of laughter.

I’m telling it from his point of view (with lots of added exaggeration (of course)):

I was at church on Sunday. The Pastor (the guy who stands at the front, basically) announced that his young daughter had a song to sing to the congregation (the people who sit on the chairs, basically). His youngest daughter refused to come up to sing the song unless her sister came with her. So the two sisters probably aged four and six, came to the front of the church to minister their song. They began singing into the microphone, first shaky then progressively more confident.

*The snow blows white on the mountain tonight…*        

I was like, Hold on! I swear I know this song. Obviously, I said this in my head because it would have been rude to interrupt the little girls singing. Suddenly, I heard synchronised screams as other Frozen fangirls joined into their jam.

*LET IT GO! LET IT GO!*

Were they really singing Let It Go from Frozen, at church. I couldn’t actually believe it. When they finally finished screeching, the adults began clapping like they sang the most inspiring song ever.

I told you that you wouldn’t find it as funny as I did. Honestly, I was laughing so much. But on a side note, who else is tired of Frozen and Let It Go now (I used to be a die hard Frozen fan, but even I can admit, it needs to be stopped).

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Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa x

How to make an impact – 4 simple steps

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘how do I make an impact?’ In this kind of world, it gets harder to truly be the person God made you and wants you to be.

1) Make an impact through the type of lifestyle you live
People are watching you… Us. Everyone is looking for that guidance, that ‘something’ and therefore we must be that ‘something’ in their lives, shown through our lives.Be a comforting voice or reason in peoples lives, a voice that reassures everyone. Let people know you as a positive person, a person know for uplifting words and actions, not words and actions that pull others down.

2) Make an impact through your giving.
This one is a little touchy because I know most of you lot were literally like, “Oh! Heck no! My money is my money!”, but giving don’t always mean money. It can mean giving your time, your emotions, your service, your resources or your knowledge. If someone is in need, and you are capable of helping them, help them. It’s not everyday sit and wait until they come to you begging on their needs; some days just help wholeheartedly. It is literally the little things that people will notice are different in your life. You’re in McDonald’s for lunch with a friend. You’ve already ordered and paid for your lunch. Your friend assumes he/she has more money than she actually does and can’t afford the medium diet coke with the meal. If you have that extra pound, give it to the friend. That is making an impact with your giving. Lastly, don’t be that person who keeps a record of your givings. “I gave you 33p on the 6th of June 2005, it was a Monday, and it was snowing. You was wearing a blue top, I was wearing a red.” That’s just ridiculous. Give wholeheartedly. Again, give wholeheartedly.

3) Make an impact through your speaking
Prayer is communicating with God; it is just talking. It may look like you’re speaking to yourself, but you’re not. God is listening.
You can make an impact by praying over your life and the lives of your friends, family and peers. Quick story; once, a good friend of mine was heading down the wrong path, and it was really worrying me. I didn’t feel like I could talk to her about it because she had the mindset that everyone was judging her, and that everyone, including me, was against her. In fact, it is the exact opposite. I wanted what was best for her. So I tweeted out, “What do you do when your friend is going down the wrong route?” and someone replied and said, “all you can do is pray for them.” Long story short; they are back to where they are supposed to be, thanks to the prayers of myself and her friends, family and church. If you care about someone, pray for them.
2 Chronicles 7:15
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

4) Make an impact through knowledge and passing on knowledge

The Bible is referred to as ‘The word of God’. Technically, people wrote it, but it was under the interpretation given to them by God. I don’t know how some people expect God to pick up a heavenly pen and heavenly paper and wrote down stuff. God is a spirit and not of this earthly world. Therefore, he must use physical people to physically write down his words. When you hear or read the things written down in the Bible, your faith grows. Faith is your belief, your belief in life, your belief in God and your belief in yourself. Think about it like this, if someone verbally abused a child from a young age over a long period of time, that person will grow into a young adult and believe all the abuse the have heard over time. The Bible works in a similar way, except it is positive, reassuring words that helps you build a confidence which pulls you through troubles and problems in life. The Bible’s definition of faith is found at Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Furthermore, Romans 10:17 (Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.) establishes that hearing the word of God is a priority. As well as hearing the word, you need to be able to share the word with other people. This encourages people who have low levels of faith and belief, in their selves or in life, due to what they have gone through in the past.

These four simple steps work when used all together in a persons life.
These steps are an adaptation from a message heard in church, so not all my own work.
Peace&Love.
Paula ox’

 

Black book, Black film

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I’ve lived in London all of my life. Born, bred and raised here, basically. It’s crazy how multicultural my city is. Only forty-four percent are white British. So growing up in London teaches you to be tolerant and aware of different cultures and traditions.

I am also proud to say that I’ve never experienced racism firsthand. I feel like living here makes it really hard to understand the extremity of racism in other parts on the UK or other countries in the world. Obviously I learnt about racism in school but it never felt like a hugely real concept to me.

Recently, I read a book and watched a film that really made me wake up and appreciate the fact that I live in such a multicultural and culturally-tolerant society.

The book I read was Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. I feel like I was the last person on Planet Earth to read the book but I finally got there! I absolutely loved it. It was so engaging. Now, without giving away too much, Malorie was extremely clever in the way she wrote it. She flipped racism and segregation, and re-wrote history, so to speak. In the book, black people weren’t being discriminated against, it was the white people. What I like is that this isn’t ever made explicit in the book. She called white people ‘noughts’ and black people ‘crosses’, so it’s evident that it isn’t a personal vendetta against anyone or any race. Seriously, the way this woman writes is just crazy.

The film I watched is called ‘Ruby Bridges‘ and it is based on a true story. The story follows a little black girl in first grade called Ruby, who is highlighted as a smart, overachieving little girl, therefore she’s amongst the first black children in New Orleans to attend ‘white people’ school. Bare in mind, this story is based years ago when prejudice was very much a normal part of American life. Without giving too much away, Ruby endures some crazy things, some heart breaking things that no child should ever have to face. With the love of her family, friends, teacher and faith, Ruby overcomes racial barriers. This movie is so beautifully created, and really made me appreciate the society I live in, especially as a young black woman.

If you get the opportunity to read this book or watch this film, jump at it, because you’ll be greatly inspired, just like I was.

Peace&Love.

Paula ox’