I Get To Decide

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By: Mallory Jordan, Beta Class

Self-assurance is one of the most challenging and yet, rewarding developments a person could ever undergo. Everyday holds new problems, possibilities, and pursuits. What you choose to do with your time and your character are solely what brings you to each moment and on.

From a young child, beginning as early as the second grade, thinking back on stories and incidents I’ve encountered with people, I always had a feeling that I didn’t possess the same thoughts, skills, and values as a lot of the individuals I kept around. I often found myself internally disagreeing with many of their actions. At an early age, I began to internalize my character and sway myself externally to agree with the presence of others. I found myself embarrassed and ostracized from groups of people who I claimed to be my friends, but felt, I couldn’t relate to.

You don’t have to be “poor” or “unattractive” to be shamed and bullied. Most of the time, it can be as simple as being yourself. As an African-American girl, growing up, I was rewarded what was supposed to be seen as compliments. Flattering me with approvals such as “you talk so white” and “you are not like…them” to “you are so good” and “Black people are ______, but you don’t count”.

While my White counterparts were feeding me what was supposed to forms of endearment, I was more often than not disregarded from the very people that looked like me. But I did count, I was counted for on every standardized test, demographic survey, and random questionnaire that was pushed my way, as I had to make a mark for the color of my skin.

Though for them, I was slowly seen as a rare breed in the population of my people, as if I was supposed to be the spokesperson or the bearer of a responsibility that is too great for me to carry. I found myself making excuses for the community that I came from for people that had made up their minds to never accept me anyways.

I was ridiculed the most for valuing the power of education, I was ridiculed for being an African-American girl that loved to read, write, and speak eloquently. My African-American people were scorned for following society’s stereotype, but as soon as one “stepped out”, their Black credibility was bashfully questioned. I trained myself to apologize for my character, I trained myself to make everyone around me comfortable all the while allowing myself to sit uneasy.

It was hard for me to admit what I did or did not like for the fear of being judged. I was questioning myself constantly as to “why couldn’t I be like everyone else?” Why didn’t I talk “black”? “Why aren’t I darker?” Why didn’t I want to have “fun”? “Why does this all matter so much?”

I was a tugboat amidst a storm of powerful waves and strong winds that ricocheted between the east and the west.

Looking back on the amount of confidence I thought to not have, I was stronger than I ever knew, for my morality never changed. As an African-American girl, but more importantly, a human being I realized that the beginning and ending of everyday started with myself. I get to decide what I do or do not like. I get to decide what I find entertaining and what I find dull. I get to decide actions that I believe further me or hinder me. What I don’t get to decide is how other people feel and beginning at an early age, I learned that people thought they could.

Now, as a young adult, vicarious and vigilant, I encourage self-awareness and self-presence, but mainly self-assurance. No one can do more for me than myself. I am powerful, I am passionate, I am thoughtful, I am mindful, I am gracious, I am gentle, and I am love. But I am not sorry.

 

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