The sensitive generation.

It always surprises me when people call others sensitive when those people are only expressing their feelings. I hear it more often now than ever. People saying that ‘you can’t say anything anymore’. No sir, you just cannot say racist and sexist things anymore and get away with it.

Remember what Kanye (and his troubled ass) said about slavery? I actually had a conversation with someone who was trying to convince me that Kanye meant to say that the 400 of slavery he was talking about is the ‘victim role’ black people have taken on, years after slavery. First of all; what victim role? What does that even mean? I am guessing Kanye is an extrovert, a talker, he expresses himself by talking and rapping about everything on his mind, it seems. So you want to tell me that this ‘articulate’ man, is not saying exactly what he wants to say. But you have figured out what it is that he meant to say… interesting.

Now let us discuss this ‘victim role’ people claim black people have taken on. I am sorry, are black people not getting shot by the police in their backs? Not getting strangled to death while screaming that they cannot breathe? Getting shot while getting they are trying to get their registration papers from their glove department? So getting killed without resisting arrest what so ever. While these certain police officers are claiming they shot these victims out of fear of their own life. In my very sarcastic voice let me say: that definitely sounds like people taking on a victim role without any reason,

To a certain degree I can understand that you might think that in the Netherlands, where I live, you might think it’s not ‘that bad’ for black people. But Kanye is in the United States of America. So that’s the place where black people actually need to fear the police. There is a new video almost every day about police brutality. A new video of a black person not doing anything wrong yet getting discriminated against, dealing with unnecessary hate. Yet you want to tell me that these people are overreacting?

OK now let’s talk about the Netherlands. The country I was born, raised and am currently living in. I do not fear the police. I do not deal with the same things I would probably deal with if I was living in the US. Yet there is a quite a large amount of hatred, discrimination and racism in this country  as well. Sadly, as there is everywhere in the world especially against black people. One main racist thing in this country, is this very ‘important’ holiday here called Sinterklaas. A holiday I loved as a child and still have love for. The story of the holiday resembles Santa Clause’s story. It’s an old white man that brings your gifts, on the night of the 4th of December. On his magical horse he hops from roof to roof to bring the good kids gifts. Yet instead of elves, the man has white people with black face with a black curly wig red lips and gold hoops in their ears, from Spain….. Again in my most sarcastic voice I say: ‘Yup that somehow makes sense’…. As a young child I did not think of it too much of it. Until one day I got called black Pete, by a kid in class. My aunt had bought me small gold hoops and my hair was cut short. When she called me this I felt my heart drop. I told myself I would never wear those earrings ever again. But even after this moment I did not think black Pete was racist, I just hated them. So whenever I would see black Pete advertised anywhere or see someone dressed up as black Pete somewhere I would get annoyed. Funnily (find the word I am looking for here), a couple of years ago it was actually a group of white girls that really opened my eyes on how racist black Pete is. I was doing some charity work with some students. And we were talking about the holiday (honestly they were talking and as the true introvert I am I was actively observing). So they were residing some of the lyrics of the holiday songs. And it was the line ‘al ben ik zwart als roet, ik meer het TOCH goed’ was the line that everyone agreed on was the worst. In English this translates to ‘EVEN THOUGH I am as black as soot, I still mean well’. Because obviously someone would never mean well when they are black. And I felt that in my core. Everything clicked and made sense. So now I feel a certain type of way when people tell me that they do not think the idea of black Pete is racist. I recite that line and let them decide for themselves.

Leave your opnion as an reaction to this post.

Completely understood my introverted ways (part I)

A feeling you don’t experience often. A feeling that makes it all worth it. Being, completely, understood and appreciated. When I used to hear people say: go where you are celebrated, not tolerated. I wondered how that felt. To be appreciated in all your weirdness and shyness. Where the norm was not to constantly speak. Where it is ok just to be silent and content with being you.

And now I understand. I feel appreciated. I feel celebrated. I remember in college at age 18, I joined an extra curriculum which at the beginning I though was going to get me out of my shell. I remember thinking this was going to make me excel, in a way I always imagined I would. Let me tell you, I did not.

In the beginning of the semester we had an introduction camp. And for some reason I thought I would bloom into this great extroverted butterfly. Let me tell you, again that did not happen. This was back when I did not know much about being an introvert and still believed that the ideal person was loud and extra confident, for no apparent reason. But I digress. So I went on this camp for like two day and I found a fellow introvert to hang with. She was cool, but after hanging for a while I felt an extroverted side of her come out. On the last day we were all having lunch at a big long table, my actual nightmare. And I was not sitting next to my buddy. She was across from me, but talking to others, rude…  So as I was sitting there, looking around eating my food, minding my business. And the ‘teacher’ was writing down little cards and handing them out to everyone. Guess what mine said? ‘You are gorgeous, show yourself’. Like what does that even mean? Show myself to whom? I smiled at the ‘gorgeous’ remark, cause I had to agree (feeling quite confident as I am writing this, I don’t know if you have noticed… haha). But in that moment I actually agreed, that I had to show the world who I was. I had to be social, I had to be an extrovert, I had to come out of my ‘shell’.

We had class every week or every other week (don’t remember exactly). But what I do remember, is I dreaded going every single time. This extra class was filled with loud extroverts who loved, and I mean LOVED to be heard. We consisted of a group of 20 to 30 students and an extroverted teacher. I liked her, yet she did not understand. For instance as she was leading one of the many group discussions, that I did not join in, she announced that she wanted an answer from someone who does not speak often in class. There were like three introverts in the class, and all eyes were on us. I felt my blood pressure rise, yet I  answered the question. I gave a short quick respons, as I was doing this I still stuttered a little and looked down. But I answered. Felt quite proud of myself to be honest. And so when I looked up to see her reaction, and I saw what no introvert ever wants to see, I saw pity in her eyes.

The next time we had class, she apologized, as she was standing in front of the class, she said she had felt frustrated that she always heard the same people speak. And she had talked it over with a colleague who had told her that people will speak when they are ready and want to speak. I do not know who this person was that she had talked to, but God bless you. You understand. And in that moment, I felt understood, appreciated, but yet to be celebrated.

Kids don’t listen they imitate.

You know what they say: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Since kids are known to imitate people around them including their parents, my question is: what are you doing to be a good example for your (future) children?

When I think about what I want for my children, its mainly love. I want them to grow up in a loving family, where they can be themselves 100% of the time. I want them to really feel like they can tell me and anyone in their family their deepest feels and secrets. I want them to feel respected and understood. I want to them feel heard. I want them to feel like they are important. I don’t want them to believe that they are better than the rest, but equal. I want them to treat the janitor the same way as they treat the school principle. I want them to follow their hearts. I want them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. I want them to feel alive. I want them to be in touch with their feelings. I want them to be sincere. I want them to care, about themselves, about their culture, about their family, their friends, about animals, about their own morals and values. I want their morals to lead in the way they act and react in all situations, instead of letting their emotions lead. I want them to believe in equality on all fronts. I want them to follow their dreams and not believe in quitting. I want them to not give in to peer pressure. I want them to be honest and just. I want them to enjoy music and travel. I want them to live in the moment and take nothing for granted. I want them to see beyond the rules of society. I want them to be, to just be. I want to have a great bond with them. To really respect and love each other. I don’t want them to be intimated by anyone or anything. I want them to figure out how to deal with their problems. I want them to be independent, but call me for advice. I want them to understand that the world is not always a nice place. I want them to fight for what they believe in. I want them to be pro-black.

As I am writing this I am wondering if I am doing the things I would want my kids to do. Am I living my life to the fullest? I am following my dreams? Am I fighting for what I believe in? Honestly? No, I am not. I have got accustom to the comfort of a 9 to 5. I have not been writing as much as I want to. I am not fighting for the things I believe in. I have to change my life style to match the things I would want for my future kid(s). Since these are the things I want for me as well. I have to practice what I preach.

So what is it that you want for you kids? Now go out and do that.

Because folks, kids don’t listen they imitate.

Peace.

The real definition of the word ‘normal’.

What is normal? What I consider to be normal, may be very strange to you. Since we all have our own way of living life. We have our own mannerisms, that we have picked up from different influences throughout our life, from people around us and even from our own habits. We come from different cultures, have different backgrounds and come from different households. Yet somehow we all want to create this idea of things being ‘normal’ and anything that is not familiar to us is ‘abnormal’.

Four years ago I cut my hair, I did the so-called ‘big chop’. For the people who don’t know what that is. That is when you cut off all (or most) of your damaged hair. I had permed my hair for seven years prior to the cut. I had also straighten my hair for those same seven years. My hair would barely grow longer than shoulders length, it would fall out and got quite thin (for my doing). Basically all that heat and those chemicals I had put on my hair definitely did not do it any good. So I had decided to wear my curly hair. See for those seven years and actually long before that as well, I had the idea that straight hair was prettier, straight hair was my idea of ‘normal’ hair. Now, four years after the cut, my hair has passed under boob length (when I stretch my curl). It is healthy and I am happy with how it looks. Now my definition of ‘normal’ has changed. Yet I see this is not the case for all the people around me. I got different reactions when I initially cut my hair, mostly positive but there were the occasional jabs I would get from a certain person. She never actually told me that she does not like the way my hair looks, she would just say things like ‘oh your hair used to look so good’.  A year after of my big chop, she actually ask me when I was going to wear my hair ‘normal’ again. See, my ‘normal’ had changed over the years. Hers had  clearly not. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that we all have our own versions of ‘normal’.

You also see this with personalities. We are currently living in a very extroverted loving society. Therefore being an extrovert is considered to be ‘normal’. Being loud and outspoken about anything is being considered as brave. Being a more reserved and quiet human being is seen as something that is wrong. Something not ‘normal’. What I am trying to say is that others will always have their own view on what is ‘normal’, ‘accepted’ and ‘good’. You have to find what works for you and do things your way.

My conclusion: there is no ‘normal’, no ‘standard’, just individuals with they own ideas of how the world should act.

How to live a more fulfilling life.

Make a list of the top 3 things that you care about most in this life. Then make a list of 3 things that you are most passionate about. There might be an overlap, but that is perfectly fine.

Here is my list of what I care about most:

  • My family;
  • the wellbeing of others and
  • and well myself (a little self-love didn’t anybody right?).

Now, what am I passionate about?

  • Equality (on all fronts; i.e. gender, partner preference, animals being equal to mankind, race, skin color, nationalities, personalities [introverts being equal to extroverts, shy people being equal to the loud among us] and list goes on).
  • Art, this includes art of others and art I have created myself. I absolutely love learning about artists and how they work. I love beautiful pictures and paintings and the stories behind them. I love a good book/blog post/poem and a well written song with some meaning behind them.
  • Compassion. I believe that if we all care just a little more about each other, the world would be a much better place.

Now ask yourself if you are doing right by the 3 things you care about the most. If you are not, be conscious of the fact that you are not.

Now lets talk about your passion. See this world is not designed for you to do what you are passionate about. We are all conditioned to believe that after high school, you go to college. We are pushed to pursuit a career in something profitable and something where we are guaranteed a job. Since there are bills to pay, we might fall in to this cycle we like to call ‘life’. It is very easy to be distracted and lose focus on what you really are passionate about. Going through the motions of life is not what we should be doing. We need to do what we absolutely love. We should be scared of our goals. We should want more than the bare minimal. So are you fighting for the things you are passionate about? Have you made a career out of what you are passionate about? Or are you just going through the motions of life. If you are having a hard time figuring out what you are passionate about. Think about what you wanted to do as a child. We all had dreams as a child that might have been pushed aside when we got older.

My tip would be, to buy yourself a mood board (if you don’t own one already). Write down the top 3 things you care about the most and write down the 3 things you are passionate about most.

And now comes the most important part. PLAN. As Denzel Washington  said: ‘Dreams without goals, are just dreams and ultimately fuel disappointment’. So write down in detail how you are going to work on your goals. How much time you will spend doing what task and adjust as you go. We cannot control life, we can only control our mind states and how hard we work on our goals.

Something that I have read on Medium a while ago is that something that might help you with making all these goals reality is focus on it for 3 months. Just for three months, give it your all. See what happens is, that your tasks will become habits. And if after 3 months you do not see a difference in your life, your happiness, your fulfillment, your mindset, than switch it up. But what is 3 months in your life time?

Would love to hear your top threes!

Re-energizing in crowded places.

How do you re-energize? I re-energie when I go outside, which is something I only realized recently. When I just started doing research on what is means to be an introvert. I assumed that all that I was reading in books and on blogs would also applies to me. Yet, I discovered that some of the tips don’t work for me. Something that I would read a lot is that introverts tend to need time by themselves and therefor stay at home for a certain amount of time to re-energize.

That definitely does not work for me. When I have a ‘day to myself at home’ I sleep in and do nothing to very little productive. I end up watching Netlfix and not doing what I actually want to do. I keep convincing myself that I have many hours left to be productive, so I procrastinate and end up not working on my dreams. This sounds very dramatic, but it’s true. We have already passed the six month mark of 2018. So with every waisted day, my guilt grows. With that guilt growing, I actually become less productive. That is one of my weaknesses I would like to work on.

I find that I am much more productive when I leave the house early and sit in a coffee place. Be amongst others that are doing the same thing, this being reading or writing. I like humans around me, but just not too close. Lol, that sounds so anti-social, but heck maybe I am a little anti-social at times. Especially in the morning, or after a couple of days of an unhealthy amount of socializing. At a coffee place I try to find a table that faces the window, I just sit there and write for hours. I read some posts on Medium and try to find a way to apply it to my life. I should probably write some notes or something to remember the stuff I read… Something that I read and stuck with me was that the best thing you can do in the morning is something that stimulates the brain. Like writing in a journal, and not something physical, like working out. This is actually better to do at the end of the day, when your brain is ‘tired’. So I will try to apply this in my life. I have bought a bright new journal, I can write in whatever comes to mind. There is no need for logic or beauty. All I that is necessary, is to stimulate my brain.

So now I am sitting at a  busy coffee place near the city center of Amsterdam, people watching and writing this blog post. Find your way to be most productive and stick to it. Consistency is key.

Childlike behavior.

When I was younger I felt like it was OK to be shy and quiet at that young age, since I was led to believe that this is childlike behavior. Something you grow out of. Something that is limiting. Something that becomes pathetic when you are an adult, or so I thought.

Recently, I was at a work-related seminar. I recognized one of the speakers from college. As I was telling someone I was there with, about recognizing them, I remembered how nervous this person would get when they had to speak in front of a crowd.

When I watched this individual give their presentation, I was actually impressed with the progression this person had made. Yet, this not what everyone saw, one of the people I was there with actually said something in the lines of it being strange that the person giving the presentation was visibly nervous at their age (the individual is about 40 years old). I said that it’s probably just a part of their personality and not a matter of one’s age. Now that I am thinking about it I actually am not sure I said that last part, but I definitely said that it might just be a personality thing.

This story explains exactly what I think the problem is. People thinking that your ‘introverted’ side just magically disappears when you get older. This is not the case. Some people are talkers and some are not. This is not a childish thing. I think a part of the problem is also that these ‘skills’ extroverts have are very visual. You can ‘see’ the extrovert being good what they do. I feel like this is less the case for introverts.

You can actually grow out of your shyness, you can work on that part of you, if it bothers you. But you will always be an introvert. As you probably already know, being shy is not the same as being an introvert. Shyness is a fear of judgment of others. Introversion is about you re-energize by being alone.

When I discovered I was an introvert came self-awareness. With self-awareness came confidence. Eventually with confidence came a growth in self-love. It felt like I was giving myself a much needed warm hug. I kept reading books about it, searching the web for blogs on the topic and as of currently listening to podcasts (and obviously I started my very own blog).

Don’t be fooled, my fellow introverted girls and guys. You are not acting like a child when you are not the ‘bubbly person’ people want you to become. Be you. Be your introverted self proudly.

Dear White People. (Netflix)

Today I started watching the new season of ‘Dear White People’ and I am already obsessed. I love the concept, the wittiness, the ‘uncomfortable’
conversations and the beautiful diverse black people portrait on the show.

Growing up I have watched black shows. But I often could not fully connect to one of the characters, since they were all more extroverted than introverted. I felt like with age I would learn how to be loud and would learn how to love constantly being around a lot of people (wow typing this even made me lose some energy #introvertedproblems). Maybe I just watched the wrong shows… But let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on ‘Dear White People’.

I think the show hit the mark beautifully. Showing diversity within the black community. The pain, the anger, the love, the journey of self-discovery and straight up being confused by it all. I feel mostly connected to Lionel. He reminds me of my younger self, when I was a freshman in college. Lionel seems fragile, shy and unsure of himself . I was the exact same. I did not feel confident or proud of who I was. It took me years to find my confidence and my ‘happy place’ I guess. Watching Lionel’s journey is fascinating to me.

This show is something that we all needed. A voice, a clear voice, a well-spoken voice, and now we have it. I can understand how some (people who are not black) might feel uncomfortable with the tittle. But watch the show, try to do this with an open mind. I know it’s hard. But take a deep breath and watch one episode. And if you still feel the same or even worse than before, just stop watching it. You are allowed to dislike it and/or be offended by it. Just try to be respectful when you express your opinion.

Much love.

A letter by an introverted black woman.

There is a lot I want to say, so let’s just get started. First of all I would like to acknowledge the fact that we are finally being heard and seen (a little) more than before. This is a step in the right direction, yet we are far from where we need to be.

You see I am awkward, so it could be that this has been going on for a while, but as of lately I have noticed that other black girls smile at me. I am not one to make eye contact or show any emotion when I do (accidentally) make eye contact. But I have noticed that other black girls have been seeking this contact. And since I am so used to having an emotionless expression, I find myself reacting a little too late. So it turns into an awkward thing where I smile back when they have already broken the eye contact. There are also nodding involved, I kid you not, girls nod at me, correction, black girls nod at me. We have entered an era where we are not afraid to show the world that we love ourselves, our cultures, our skin, our brothers and our sisters.

The image is shifting. Africa is slowly being seen as a beautiful continent filled with history, culture and therefor basically something to be proud of. I remember going to see Black Panther in the theater for the first time (Wakanda forever) and I saw this beautiful black woman with an African headscarf. I had eye contact with the girl she was there with and this beautiful individual smiled at me. My heart felt full.

Today another awkward introverted black girls thing happened to me. I was traveling by public transportation, and as I was entering the tram I saw two beautiful black girls around my age. It was rush hour so people were pushing and shoving trying to get into this tram. One of the girls said something about dry lips and immediately I thought they were talking about me. I froze, even though ‘I never freeze’ and though about my lips and whether they were looking crusty or not. Then I remembered I had put on some chap stick  minutes before. So they could not be talking about me, right? The other girl said ‘Ah, I love her hair’ a minute after. Now I was convinced they were talking about me. I looked around for other black girls who they could be talking about. Because yes, we have reached that point where you know that when a sister says she loves someone’s hair, she is talking about black hair. But there was only me, so I guess they were talking about me. I had mixed emotions, a got a jab but a compliment as well. So overall that’s a healthy balance, I guess.

So I guess what I am trying to say by this letter is the following: beautiful black girls I see you, I hear you, and just because I might not respond in public to your smile or nod. My introverted awkward ways are just getting in the way of showing it.

Bike rides in Amsterdam.

Recently I have been riding my bike to work. This started out of necessity; one of my colleagues and I had a meeting somewhere in the city and we had planned to travel together. And well, he was going by bike, so… yeah. I reluctantly agreed to come to work by bike. But something happened to me that morning, something I did not expect; I actually enjoyed it.

You see in The Netherlands it’s quite normal to go places by bike. But for years now I have been gladly using public transportation. Public transportation in Amsterdam is quite well connected, there is hardly a place in Amsterdam where there is no bus, tram, train or subway station. I had gotten used to the customs of public transportation. I knew how everything worked, I felt like this was my comfort zone. And now I was kindly asked to step out of it.

As I was riding my bike to work, I felt a sense of freedom. I was in charge of the speed, whether or not I would avoid the bumps in the road, the time I would start my journey and whether I would arrive at my destination on time. I did not have to wait for the bus, sit next to a stranger, who God forbid wanted to start a conversation about something like the weather. I was alone. Me and my bike. Yet I was also surrounded by so many people who were doing the same thing; going to work by bike. So, somehow we were all alone together.

It feels like I have time and room to think, before and after work. I stepped out of my comfort zone and let me tell you. It was worth it.

The lesson I can take from this is simple, small changes in your routine can bring exciting experiences. My advice therefore would be: change something in your routine and see if you like it. If it was not what you expected or wanted out of it, you can always go back. Live your life, have fun and stay introverted and black.