Wow, I can’t actually believe the amount of love that came back from that last post – you guys are so awesome. I definitely think my best when I’m away from home (super helpful) in terms of self reflection/growth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Expectation. I hate this word. It is my nemesis. The expectations I have for myself are frankly stupid and at times dangerous – not just mentally but physically. Take my first couple of days in Barbados as a little example.
Now, I’m going to be very honest here and admit that staying in a hotel (though fucking amazing – I’m quite overwhelmed by the fact that I’m staying in a deluxe room with the below as my balcony view as a 28 year old working as a creative #sidenote #creditcardlife #dontjudgeme #letmebeboujee) makes me very uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t stay in hotels, I stay in hostels or Air B&B’s or with friends on sofas – I am not a hotel person. I’m not a hotel person because I feel like a tourist and even though I AM a tourist (as painfully obvious by my dress sense, constant use of the phrase ‘thank you’ and the camera hanging around my neck) I don’t want to BE a tourist. And by a tourist I mean someone who is dressed UK, says thank you all the time and has a camera around their neck. I’m sure you can agree that this logic is flawless.
However, I know the reason for this feeling is; sitting on a private beach in the Caribbean with predominantly Western people makes me feel uncomfortable. But here’s the thing, that is my issue. That is me tapping in hard to my colonial guilt and has nothing to do with the people around me getting on with their daily lives or simply enjoying their holiday. And as I lay there in the sun burning (because I refused to wear san tan lotion because ACTUALLY I’m black-ish…), starting to feel quite ill, I thought to myself – Ngaio, what the fuck are you doing? What exactly are to you trying to prove? And to who? Why are you having some sort of existential crisis on a beach in paradise waking up to waves in a bed fit for 5 people? What is happening?!
So I pulled my lounger into the shade (what a fucking relief) looked up where the nearest market was (7 minutes away, closes in an hour, bless) put on some trousers and left the hotel. As soon as I lost the hotel WiFi connection, I calmed down. Soon as I accepted that I was a fucking tourist and put my camera around my neck, not hidden in my Ghanaian fabric bag, I calmed down. Soon as I got to the market and confessed to the natural creme couple that I got too brave in the sun and needed something to prevent peeling, I calmed down. By the time I got to the fruit and veg stall (which came with the cutest baby in the world) I was back to me.
I’m now back at the hotel with a flannel of ice on my burned forehead and aloe vera cream sinking nicely into my browning shoulders and I’ve realised that this weird anxiety I’ve been feeling for the last few days has been tied into self-expectation. I always want to be better at everything – always – and although it does give me a solid amount of drive and work ethic, it is exhausting because it is never ending. Whilst studying philosophy to broaden my mind and heighten my thinking process as a light reading I’ve been trying to internally marry; the black history I’ve been reading to better understand the effect of the UK’s history with race and immigration since the 1600s to understand the societal views we have today for my work in inclusion, with being a regular Brit on holiday in Barbados. Without even realising it I was tiring myself out with this Expectation to be my best woke self and make the most of a holiday I’ll be paying for for the next 6 months (at least) and….Fi Whyyyyyy?? Why was I doing this to myself?!!
Anyway, that’s it really. So glad I actually wrote it down so I can chill the fuck out and get on with enjoying myself. In some ways I think, what’s the point in sharing mind dumps like this, but I do think it can be a helpful insight to anyone interested into the complexities of what it is to be British and a person of colour and the personality juggle that comes with being in a constant state of duality. Also, as you may have picked up on from that ridiculously long jargon’y sentence, I do have a tendency to get lost inside my own brain so it’s good for me to write things out sometimes. It’s also why I’m so passionate about inclusion and understanding of hidden bias because it’s in everyone. A fair few of my own have shown themselves pretty clearly even just over these past couple of days which I’ve found to be unsettling but good to recognise. Of course I don’t have any actual answers but writing about it has emptied my brain a bit so…that’s good!