“I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.”
– India Arie
When I embarked on my month long journey to New Zealand and Australia, I had no idea that it would transform my life. When I left Canada, I was in a right state. I didn’t know if I could handle being alone with my thoughts for a month. As I mentioned in my last post, I had no reason to worry – the trip was even better than I could have imagined.
After having done a bunch of extreme sports in New Zealand, the focus of my trip suddenly shifted. I felt that I really could accomplish anything and I wanted to conquer as many fears as I could before heading home.
When I got to Brisbane, I decided to get a nose piercing. One of my fears/worries has always been “what will other people think of me?” My new nose stud became symbolic of breaking down the mental barriers I created for myself and the anxiety that stems from caring too much about what others think of me. I spent a great deal of my life stopping myself from doing or saying things that would have made me happy because I didn’t want my overly critical aunts or society to criticize or condemn me. Now that I’m back home, I’ve been continuing to make choices that make me happy and spending a lot less time worrying about being judged by others.
Another thing that used to bother me greatly was my skin colour. I was born into a culture that glorifies light skin and frowns upon darker skin shades. I was so worried that I was going to get really tan and would come back home to critical aunts telling me how dark I had gotten. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin – I hated it.
By the time I got to Cairns, I had already been on my trip for about two weeks and had gotten a lot of sun. I was feeling very self-conscious about my skin tone. One day, it was 45 degrees out and humid so I decided to go to the mall. I was walking in the mall when I was stopped by a young guy who gushed over how beautiful and chocolatey my skin is. I thought he was just trying to get me to donate to his charity but he was genuinely in awe of my apparently even-toned chocolate coloured skin.
I was caught off guard. There have been times in my life when other people have told me that I am beautiful but for some reason, this stuck with me. Maybe it’s because at that very moment I had been lamenting at my tan and was worried about returning home to critics. My entire life, I felt ugly. I felt insecure about my skin colour because my culture, and my aunts have always made snide comments about dark skin. “Fair skin” or “light skin” has always been and will always be (in their eyes) more beautiful.
Well, I finally realized, it just doesn’t matter. I need to love myself, dark skin and all. I am more than just my skin but at the same time, I will embrace it for what it is.