Diaspora; It’s important to stay in touch with where you came from; Short Story0 Comments

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Posted on 03 Sep 2014 at 7:16pm
Athena Zeus is originally from Malawi, but have lived in Boston, USA for over 10 years now. She moved to America when she was 17 years old, travelled alone.

Athena Zeus is originally from Malawi, but have lived in Boston, USA for over 10 years now. She moved to America when she was 17 years old, travelled alone.

With my extroversion and eagerness to fit into America came another problem. It wasn’t an identity crisis as such, but it was more like a displacement. I was so focused on becoming something big and recreating myself every day that I lost track of where I began and I wasn’t sure where I was going with all the change. I sometimes caught myself being afraid of who I was becoming because I always knew Malawi was missing in my life.  So 10 years later, I went back home. And it happened again—the transformation. It was as if being in Malawi took away my fear. Fear of what? You might ask. Fear of being me, because my identity had been entirely displaced in the cluster of cultures I had to adapt to and the different people I was exposed to. Being away from home for so long only heightened my identity disorientation. One of my role models, Leo Buscaglia, put it best:

“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.”

This was the conflict for me. Living in both Boston and Malawi has made me live a life of filling other people’s expectations of me–expectations for me to be more African or more Americanized, having lived in Boston for a long time.  Where finally do “I” find “ME”?  Funny, huh?  But I was suffocating again.  I realized that in America, I got used to fabricating myself to fit the culture in order to blend in so no one would notice my differences even though being black is already a siren for attention when it comes to other’s prejudices. What I mean is that my black skin comes with stereotypes—some which I didn’t even know about until a year after I had been here—and I was unaware that I was wearing these markers from the moment I landed in America. I suddenly became so aware of my race—it had hardly been a thought in Malawi. I could have had the words “is it because I’m black?” tattooed on my forehead. Yes, it was that bad. However, being in Malawi again after all these years, somewhat erased my obsession with picking apart my blackness. I started to think more in tune with who I am as an African, rather than focusing on what distinguishes me as an African for everyone else.

Malawi helped me find myself again.

For the first time, at age 27, I feel whole just being African, Malawian, Me. I realize I had forgotten what it felt like to just BE without worrying about social stigmas.  Diaspora can spin your identity in so many different directions, but that is why it is important to stay in touch with where you came from. I don’t think I will ever go 7 years without visiting Malawi again and for anyone who is far from home, I urge you to visit your home whenever you can.  It doesn’t have to be every year, but go often enough to stay in touch.  Living in the diaspora brings a unique sense of cosmopolitan diversity, but it can also displace your sense of self if you detach yourself from where you came from. It helps me to look back at my humble beginnings, at age 17, because I remember how far I have come. How much I have grown. How I change every day and how I’m a little less nervous and scared of America.

You can read the full story by following this link http://athenatales.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/the-imprisoned-extrovert-i-have-no-me-and-i-must-scream/

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