Tomboy in Doll Shoes

Picture this, a group of around ten ladies, seating at a table, slowly eating their lunch. They are talking, the topics keep chaning, from family, to food to fashion. They stop at fashion, after one simply says, ‘I’m a tomboy’, from a statement someone had made.

Now, these ladies have their differences, and for some reason, they rarely agree to disagree.

‘You are not!’ quickly utters one of the ladies in disgust. Things are starting to get awkward in the group, you can see the faces of the others already knowing which side they’ll take.

‘You are in doll shoes and lipstick and nailpolish,’ she says, ‘tomboys don’t dress like that.’

At this point one is probably wondering what a tomboy dresses like. The challenger is in jeans, converse shoes and a t-shirt.

‘My dressing doesn’t say much about whether I am a tomboy or not, besides I like nail polish and lipstick, I believe my personality is the indicator here,’ the other lady saids defending herself in a soft spoken voice.

‘Really,’ the challenger says rolling her eyes.

The other girl keeps quiet so as to avoid any confrontation.

The challenger still wants a challenge.

‘You can’t say you are a tomboy! You have to ‘dress like a boy’ and ‘act like a boy”.

Everyone keeps quiet probably thinking how the conversation has gotten stereotipical.

There is tension in the air until one of the girls asks the rest if there have seen some funny video as she lifts up her phone.

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Song of my Life

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The past few years have been a journey of self discovery for me. All along there has been one constant thing – people asking me to change my personality, at home, at work, everywhere. The ‘you need to be’ statements have become a constant in my life.

I have always been a quiet and reserved person. Up to when I was nine, everything was fine. I was quiet but I had friends, I participated in lots of  extra-curricular activities in school-nothing felt weird.

Things changed when I transferred to another school when I was ten, at first everything seemed fine. But I had difficulty in chosing the extra-curricular activities to engage in. It was like they were developed to fit certain people. I opted for music.

A year after, people’s attitude towards me began to change. I began to get bullied, but being from Kenya, it was never really physical as fighting might have led to suspension or expulsion from the perpetrators. It was mostly statements, I was too ugly, too dark, I had a bad walk, I ran badly, I ate like a cat, I started being called stupid. They watched everything I did, and turned it into something negative. At times, the teachers got in on it. I rememeber one mocking me in class when I was 13 because of how I was running during a PE lesson.

When the bullying started, everything changed. My grades dropped and I withdrew from the world. I began spending a lot of time alone. When I got home I would lock myself in my room and just listen to music. My parents thought that I was just being rebellious. A few years down the line, my mother took the keys to my bedroom in an effort to make me mingle more.

Deep inside, I was going through so much pain. I had endured negative comments on each school day for five years of my life. My self esteem became so low that I even stopped looking into mirrors. I remember locking myself in my room one day and I began to cry. I asked God to help me forget it all… with time, I forgot about most of the memories that taunted me.

In high school, I studied in a remote part of the country. There wasn’t any bullying, people seemed to mind their own business. I made a few friends but people were puzzled at how quiet I was, I rarely interacted with students from other classes.

In my first year, I was motivated to work hard, I was still haunted by scars from my past.I started out well, but I never really believed in myself. I began to immerse myself into writing as it was one of the things that made me happy.

I finished and went to college. I made a few friends on the first week, most of them were extroverts. I would tell myself that I would work on becoming as outspoken as them.

On one idle day, I decided to go for a personality test. I found out that I was an INTJ. It was at that moment that things began to make sense. For the first time in my life, I felt like I knew who I was. My counsellor thought I was special, I didn’t exactly know why at the moment.

I however felt like I was living in an extrovert’s world. I felt like I needed to change or I would never go past an interview. I never changed, but I managed to get called to interviews for internships.

In most of the posts I got, I was questioned for being quiet. One of my bosses commented at one time, ‘smile,just say hi to …when he comes in, its easy!’ I did try to greet people but I found it hard to interact especially in a place where most people were very vocal. In my appraisal, I wrote in one section that I was an introvert but I got a response that implied that this did not matter.

With time, I changed jobs. And for a moment it felt like hell because ‘flaws’ in my personality kept being pointed out. ‘I was too quiet, I never ate lunch in groups, I was not outspoken as the new staff, I was never assertive enough,’. I tried to change… not that anyone noticed.

After hearing a few negative comments, I began to feel miserable. I decided that I would change my approach in future interviews or else people would expect me to be an extrovert. But I decided that I would not change to make others happy while I myself was unhappy. I would embrace who I am. After all, they never asked the extroverts to change. They never made efforts to understand me, but a lot of effort to judge me.

Very recently, someone told me that ‘I would die and no one would remember me’ because I was quiet. I never responded because it felt like it was a statement from a bully.

I know myself, probably better than most people think. People think that just because someone is quiet, they do not know who they are. I have decided to embrace my personality and let people think what they think, after all, they will constantly be judging me. I live in a world where people are constantly telling me what will happen in my life based solely on judgement… or looking at me as an easy target to vent out their negative comments.

‘I am Doreen (‘soy doreen’ in spanish) and I am an introvert. I am strong in my own way. In my silence I have found my confidence and my strength and I have discovered my true self’

Turns Out

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She thought that no one noticed her,

Turns out he and a few other people did

 

She thought he would never like her,

Turns out he did

 

She though that he would never hurt her,

Turns out that he did in a way that she would never forget

 

He lied that he loved her,

Only to violate her

 

She thought that he would never noticed her,

Yet he took her to a dark place

 

She thought that he would never love her,

Turns out he was right

 

Turns out she was an easy target for him to hurt

How I Turned 23

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I remember watching Spiderman where Jamie Foxx acts as a scientist as it begins. He is a loner, and weird in the movie. Before he turns, we are shown what his birthday is like, no one remembers it, and he buys a cake for himself and sings to himself. I watched that part thinking ‘that’s me’.

My birthday has traditionally been between me and my dad. I basically nag him for a month and he does something special, But as years have gone by, I have somehow stopped. Then again, I never tell anyone else because I think that if someone is interested in my birthday, they would know it. So because of this, for the past 5-6 years they have been people that I have always associated with my birthday and I basically spend my whole birthday week celebrating with them.

But this year was different, I did not want any celebration from these constants but rather just a few special people. I had also deleted my facebook so I got less wishes. I did mention my birthday week on a whatsapp status as everyone keeps nagging me about not telling them its my birthday. I had no expectations but I wished for just one thing that I woule remember for the rest of my life.

So my day began by my dad singing and I interrupted him because it felt like I was a child, but it later turned into the worst normal day I ever had, and I basically will remember it because it was one day I really wanted to end.

Nonetheless, they were special messages from my constants which I appreciated. But I do hope that next year things will be different and I will get to spend it with all the people I have been spending it with for most of my life. I would like to rectify how my birthday turned out to be disappointing this year.

Just Quotes… on change

‘Girl Power’

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Its been long since I last did a post and I thought that I’d write about something that would interest me… and has been bothering me after I joined this club that I have been active in… a few times… and left… a lot of times.

I have always been interested in gender issues at first not at much but two years ago my interested increased especially with reference to sexual violence.

At first I had ‘joined’ the women’s or gender or sex club depending on how it is described since my friend was a member and twice or thrice I did accompany her to a meeting. I had a lot of expectations the first time but they died within minutes after I attended the meeting for the first time. I expected change the second time but there was none.

Why was I uncomfortable? Because I was being described as a woman stereotypically is… with Western culture. They assumed that I loved pink, wanted to look like a pop star… or diva, and that I wanted to sing and be sweet like snow white, and do yoga then do zumba once a week. Thy do not at all take into account personality times.

When I joined the club one year later, it was due to personal experience. Truth be old, it never helped, and it will probably be the same for many who need that help. The issues on the ground, in a campus setting were not being addressed. Even if they did, it seemed liked someone had just read it somewhere and came and presented on it without really knowing how it felt. No one ever really came open about personal experience because it was hard… you’d rather go download Oprah or Tyra episodes on an issue you are facing.

The communication was there but not there, you had to be a certain type of an all out there girl to blend in if not you could feel the tension. I forced myself to attend for a semester then the next never really went. Simply because it felt like it was for a certain type of women. And even if you wanted girl power,it had to be under certain stereoscopic boundaries.

In short, you could be empowered, if you were ‘normal’ with reference to society’s standards. If you are the girl who hates pink, forget it. If you are not into partying and hanging out, forget it. If you are the one who is quiet and spends time alone, its for a certain use… although some could say they were… and make sound like it was in a movie, not in real life. It had me question, is ‘girl power’ for every girl, or only for a certain type of girls?

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