Comparing yourself with others

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When I was a little younger, I had officially come to grips with the idea that I am not as ‘naturally pretty’ as other girls. Where I got this idea from, I do not particularly know, but I do know that I believed it with all of my heart. In my young mind, some people are just beautiful. They were born with the lucky combination of chromosomes that made them gorgeous. But it is not all bad, because the rest of us have strengths too. Some of us were born with smarts, some can sing and dance, some have the undeniable talent to make people laugh. I did not believe I was given beauty, but that was okay because I exploited my strengths. I sang, I made people laugh, I worked hard in school, I wrote and I was a good friend to people who needed me. All the while, I never felt like not being ‘conventionally pretty’ hindered me. If anything, it empowered me, because I believed that everything I had, I had earned and didn’t have just because I was nice to look at.

Looking back, it is clear that I only had this view about myself because I compared myself to other people.

For most people, comparing yourself to others just distracts you from the many good qualities you hold. You might be amazing in one aspect, but complete overlook it because someone else shines bright in one particular thing. I learnt that I was beautiful. Maybe not in the conventional way, but then again, who wants conventional? I learnt that some of the things that make some people pretty do not work for me. I had to find indiviudal things that worked for me and made me confident and gorgeous. I think I have.

If you realise something does not work for you, you either forget about it or make it work for you. Life does not give you time to whine and cry about things that do not work, because there will be many things that do not work. If you do not work hard for it, you do not deserve it. Simple as that. And if you get things without working for them, you will not fully understand its value.

I am proud of the beautiful, young woman I have become today, mainly because I worked hard to become her. Because of this, I fully understand my value. I do not ever need to compare who I am, what I am, what I have to someone else, because I am enough. Until I realised this, I was incomplete, whether I realised it or not. If more people could see their worth, they would not care so much when they are cast down or told they are not good enough.

When I was a little girl, I was ‘encouraged’ to join my church choir, mainly because they desperately needed members. I had no interest in music and singing, I was much too busy with things nine-year old girls do. But I joined and soon I realised… I hated it. It was not for me, so I believed. I couldn’t hit the high notes, it took up way too much of my time and to make matters worse, the members were incredibly rude. They were not afraid to tell a nine-year old girl that she really could not sing. After crying on multiple occations, I realised they were probably right. Compared to the adults in the choir, I could not sing at all. However, I also realised that if I kept working hard, I will be able to sing. Fast forward a decade or two, and here I am. I can sing. I may not be Mariah Carey, but I can definetly hit more notes than I could then. The point of my anecdote is to demonstrate that comparing yourself with other people can also be a positive thing, but only if you use the comparison to motivate you. If you do it to pinpoint all the bad things about yourself, then it is not helpful.

You do not need someone to make you realise that you are better than where you are in life, right now. You just need yourself to make that first step to improvement. But sometimes it can be just as helpful to have people to measure against, just to show your progression.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

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

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’

Another one on stress and worry

Stress is one thing that I have learnt never really and truly goes away, unless you do something about it. I like to talk about stress because I pretty much battle it everyday. There have been blogs on the topic, videos on the topic (click here), talks about the topic; I’ve done everything. And yet, I still haven’t fully dealt with it.

As a girl, I feel like the problem is a million times harder and stronger because we just stress about school, work, boys, how we look, what people think about us, careers, and literally everything in between. It’s like we subconsciously enjoy worrying and stressing about things that we can’t even change. It’s like we get a strange buzz from telling people the irrational worries that we have, that keep us up all night and occupy our innermost thoughts. It’s almost fun describing these unlikely scenarios to people. I know I do this.

There was a time, I spent hours telling my friend all the silly worries I had about this particular guy. The worries and stresses were consuming my every thought and it genuinely felt good to unload them to my friend. I kept being reminded by an annoying little voice in my head, that I wasn’t pretty enough and that he probably didn’t like me. My friend was so blunt and was just like, “Why doesn’t you just ask him? At least that way you’ll know and you can stop stressing and move on.” So that’s what I did, and even though I didn’t get the answer I wanted, it felt good to have that load off my back so I could finally stop thinking about it all.

The whole point of what I’m saying is, we need to stop worrying and stressing about things we genuinely can’t change, and start fixing and working on the things we can. That’s my new life motto and I’m working my way there. Trust me, it’s not the easiest thing, but God is helping me!

I read in a book called ‘An Enemy Called Average’ by John L. Mason, that “every obstacle has a limited life span.” This means that something you are worrying about today isn’t something you’ll even remember in a weeks time, a months time, a years time. Life moves on and therefore the struggles pass.

Just remember, if someone makes you worry more than makes you happy, you probably do not need them in your life. Cut them out. Simple as. Life is much too short to be anything but happy. On that extremely cheesy note, I’ll end this. But let this be a new beginning for you!


Peace&Love.
Paula ox’