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  • Writer's pictureDedeStewart

Change is good

Hi! Welcome, or welcome back, to Discussions with Dede. I hate change. Well, I don’t necessarily hate it, I just find it very hard to do. Like I’ve mentioned in my last post, I have a hard time adjusting to new things. Change has been very difficult for me because it takes such a long time to get into the groove of things.

For a person who hates change, I definitely moved around alot. My sisters and I were talking recently about how many times we have moved, and I realized I’ve never stayed at one school for long amounts of time. I think I’ve attended 7 schools in my schooling, so I’ve always had to adjust and move. My parents did a pretty good job with our education: private school until 5th grade and public school from then on. The only problem was, my private schools were in predominantly white areas and we all know what that means. I have so many terrible (and racist) stories from my past, but that’s trauma I have yet to unpack.

As a result of us moving around so much, I became a pro at switching the way I talk as well as my personality in general. I’ve always been a very timid person, but at my private schools I never talked. No lie. I would get bullied when I was younger because I would just never talk to anyone. When I reminisce on my childhood, I really thank God for growth because now, people can really not talk to me anyhow *in my Chizi Duru voice*. But yeah, I never really felt accepted by anyone when I went to private schools. I really just stayed to myself because I had no friends lol. The teachers were no help either, like they used to see me eating alone and they would do nothing. What happened to inclusivity? Some of those teachers were my first bullies because they did not care about my feelings at all. I remember one time some people were making fun of me, and the teacher saw what was happening and did absolutely nothing. I was like wow, but then if I said something back then I’m the bad guy?

Once I got into 3rd grade, I moved to a black Christian school. The school was lit asl idc; everyday was something! It was definitely a big culture shock because before that I was surrounded by all white people. I know alot about black history and culture because of that school, and I was starting to open up a little more. I really don’t remember learning anything from that school from an academic standpoint, but it did help me learn more about my identity as a black person.

( thats me in 3rd or 4th grade, aren't I cute?)

After my 3 years there, I went to public school. In my family, going to public school was a big deal because it meant that you were kind of “grown” now. You get to take the bus to school instead of riding with your parents, and you get your own phone. This was a big deal to me, so I was excited. The excitement would not last for long because I couldn’t even get my stupid locker open. At my middle school we used to have a “locker orientation”, where a few days before school started you would learn how to open your locker. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. I could not get it open, and I got so irritated with myself. My mom and my sisters stayed with me for at least 2 hours trying to help me get acquainted with it. I was struggling so hard with it, and I think it was because I felt like I was not ready to be on my own. You know, when you’re in elementary school you can still rely on your parents to do things for you. But for middle school, it felt like I was kind of on my own and I had to learn how to do things by myself. It felt like it was all happening so fast! Like where was the time going? I do have to say though, part of it may have just been me being dramatic idk. Either way, everything felt rushed.

(this is literally my only picture from sixth grade, I remember this picture day like it was yesterday. My mom was mad I kept my jacket on for the picture, and now I see why the jacket doesn't really go with the fit. I feel like I looker younger than sixth grade in this picture. )

I feel like it takes me a really long time to adjust to new environments. Just when I felt like I was getting used to being in my middle school, my father announced we were moving to Kenya. I was like nahhhhh? Really? I literally just got into middle school and now I had to move?! And the worst part of it all? The packing. It felt like I was boxing up and saying goodbye to my childhood. The house I grew up in had been our home for over a decade, and suddenly, we were leaving it all behind. I remember how much I cried and cried and cried.

The other part of the move that had me worried was that I was moving to Africa. I’m going to be honest, I was scared to live in Africa. The skewed perception of Africa was all I saw--- poor, malnourished children, huts, etc. I was very ignorant, and only had a small idea of what Africa looked like from Nollywood movies. Dumb, I know but I did not want to live in Africa because of how loud the movies were. I know it sounds weird, but the movies made it look so loud and village-y. But no matter how scared I felt, I didn’t have a choice. We had to move. And we did the summer after my 6th grade year. Once we landed, we had to wait a month or so before we got our furniture and stuff. We had to sleep on mattresses that we laid out on the floor, and I was so upset bro. On top of that, nobody told me Kenya could also get cold! I laugh every time I think about it, but my dad really said to take our winter clothes out of our suitcases because the weather was nice. He forgot to mention that because Kenya was on the opposite side of the equator, the summer months in America were “winter” in Kenya. That means it was freezing in July, which is when we moved. So not only am I sleeping on the floor, I also have no warm clothes to bundle up with. Great start to my new life. I was so mad omg, I hated it and I was already planning my escape back to Jersey.

But slowly I began to adjust, and I really fell in love with Kenya. First of all, everything is natural. You can eat a burger and you still feel good unlike in America. Second, we had a driver and a househelp, which was customary in Kenya. It was so interesting because we had the freedom to go anywhere we wanted to. However, my mom still made us clean because she was not going to deal with spoiled kids. I really wished I was the age I am now when I lived in Kenya because you could really do anything. We only lived there for 2.5 years, but in that time, I actually picked up on a little Swahili which was nice. I miss it, that was really the life.

look at my Urkel-looking self, this was probably 7th grade because I was OBSESSED with headbands because I was so insecure about my forehead. The headband actually pushed my hairline so far back and made me forehead get bigger lol. I'm wearing a black one which is not to bad, because most times my headbands would not go with my outfits at alllllll.

Moving to Kenya was definitely the best thing that my parents had done for me. It made me see the world in a different place, and took me out of my comfort zone. It taught me to explore and travel the world because you really do learn a lot about yourself. I learned how strong I was, and even though I don't necessarily like change, I can learn to adjust when needed. Also, it helped me open my eyes to new places and educate myself. When I left America, I was very naïve and I listened to the picture Westerns painted about Africa. It’s crazy because America really pollutes your mind; it makes you think that other countries are worse than they are and that any country outside of the US is just poverty stricken. Which is so dumb because there is literally poverty everywhere, including in great ‘ol America. While I did know a bit about Africa from what my parents told me, experiencing it for myself was even better. It made me love and appreciate my culture more because of my time spent in Kenya and getting to visit other countries on the continent. And now, I have a greater appreciation for other people’s cultures and identities because of that experience.

(This was my first-time riding a horse ever and it was in Kenya, and I was terrified oml. My horse kept on running fast, I thought I was going to be bucked off hence the fake smile in this picture. I'm glad I experienced it because the scenery was gorgeous but it was definitely something.)

I already told my family that I cannot live in America for long. I do not want my children to grow up like spoiled and entitled Americans. I want them to experience the world. America cannot be the only thing they see; they need to see more. I know that they may be mad at that moment, but they will definitely thank me later for the experience.

I’ve always been against change but now I'm open to transitions and new environments. Change allows you to grow and teaches you life experiences. Change is also inevitable, so the sooner you adjust, the more you are able to learn from it, and maybe even enjoy it. I’m glad that these life events have happened because I would not be the person I am without it.

( I almost peed my pants because we were so close to this lion, I was beyond terrified. Our tour guide was making mad noise, I was like "do you want it to come closer?")

My favorite animals to see during the safari was the elephants, cheetahs, and giraffes because they walked so gracefully. They also always walked in packs and were very protective.

That's carcass of another animal if you can't tell. It was eating another animal like whaaaaa? I knew they did it but to see it happen in real time was definitely an experience. Hey, as long as it wasn't me I did not mind lol. It was so bloody and kind of sad.

My family and I (minus my older sister) looking like true mzungus in these shukas, but it was surprisingly very windy that day. Funny story, but there was this one time where something happened with our truck so we all had to get out the truck so our guide could fix it. When I tell you, I have never been so scared in my life, because we had to exit the truck. I don't know if you guys have watched the Croods but in the movie they formed a "death circle" and that's what we did. We were in the middle of the safari park where animals resided peacefully, and it was only by God's grace that we did not encounter one face to face. It's the fact that we could have actually looked a lion dead in the eye for me. That junk keeps me up at night, but it was one for the books.

That’s all for today, thank you for reading. See you next time:)

Question for the comments: What is something change has taught you?

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Jul 12, 2021

omg your picture from 3rd grade is so cute, I'll agree with you that chance is actually good sometimes. It might be hard but we adjust and things get better. I think for me, change has made me believe in myself more and be more open. It feels really good!! I remember being scared when I was moving here from Ghana. because I was leaving all my friends behind and moving to a veryyyy different environment with no friends lol but I've adjusted to the environment (I'm still adjusting I guess). But it's been good, generally speaking.

Jul 13, 2021
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Haha yeah I love that picture of myself😂😂thank you so much for reading and I know exactly how you feel. Moving definitely helped me to be more open I guess. Ghana to America must’ve been very scary so I’m glad you are adjusting well ( generally speaking 😊)

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