Who Am I?

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I didn't think I'd end up writing a post about myself, but it's been weighing on me. Usually when an idea pops in my head, it doesn't leave unless I execute on it somehow. I want to take this post to introduce myself and give some context. Here's my story so far. 

Greetings. I'm a millennial, immigrant, living in contradictions and finding my way in this thing called life. I was born in the country of Togo on the west coast of Africa. I spent my first 11 years in one of the most beautiful and demanding environments of the world. I was young, but I remember the fun times being really fun and the hard times being as hard as a young child can interpret them. When the only thing to do was playing soccer in the streets with friends, go to school and do homework, there isn't much to worry about. A few years into the 90's, my family fled the country from a civil war and we came back after a while. Even though the situation had been lessened, living under a dictatorship meant always having to understand it could happen again at any time. 

In my eyes, not much had changed when we came back. I was still forced to go to school (my first inclinations of hating school) and do homework, but being able to play soccer and other games with my neighborhood friends made that easier. I grew up in my version of what the suburbs there would be. The village, where my father was from, was a couple of hours away. He would take my sister and I there every now and again to visit. He had fruits and vegetable trees there he'd have to go back to manage and harvest. He normally worked in an office, so I didn't appreciate what his going back to he village to work meant at the time. My first entrepreneurial lessons from him were that he'd bring back batches of fruits and veggies, we'd sell at the market or right outside of our house. I, of course, ended up eating more than working, but those lessons have stayed with me. 

My mother was from near the capital of Lome and she had some siblings that had moved to the states. They wanted us to visit, so in 2001, my family started making plans to head to the east coast of the US. We were on track and on one fateful day, we rushed home from school to see on TV that people had flown planes into towers in New York. I didn't understand what was really happening, but I knew it couldn't be a good thing. The 9/11 attack meant our arrival date to the states had to move back. We stuck with it and ended up arriving to Virginia that October and life hasn't been the same ever since. 

I was uprooted, and it was a bit traumatic. I went from having a whole bunch of friends to hang out with whenever I wanted, to knowing no one my age and not understanding the language of the new land. The cultural difference was apparent when at my first altercation in school, I ended up biting the other kid. The following year, another altercation after getting made fun of in the locker room was welcomed with a 3 day out of school suspension. I became a loner and had started to embrace it. Being enrolled in English as a second language program helped with the acclimation. After 2 years, they deemed me well spoken and educated enough to no longer need the program. I figured if I learned English well enough, I wouldn't have any other problems, so I made that a high priority and succeeded at it. My family found a local church to attend and I ended up making some friends that way, as well as being mentored by some amazing families. I was asked to mow a couple of lawns, babysit and other housework. These patient and welcoming people taught me what it means to get paid for hard work in the US and in some way, I'm indebted to them.

Fast forward through graduating high school, college and now being a professional, I now understand the foundations that started being set at an early age. I spent many years unhappy and unfortunately let some of the negativity into my adult life before finally taking control. I've made mistakes along the way and have learned from them. I was always searching for my voice and only recently found it. The question "Who are you?" is something one of my managers/mentors asked me a while back. I stumbled my way around this hard question because I didn't know how to answer it. I'll be using this blog to answer it because I believe it deserves an evolving answer. I'm overly ambitious which I get from both my parents. I'm a perseverance artist from years of having to pivot. I choose to no longer be a victim of life, so I've been trying to deploy gratitude in everything that I do, because I know that I could have turned out completely different. Ultimately, too much has happened and It's time I started using it to push me forward.  

Who are you? I'd love to hear your story. It inspires me