I have always been a hard working person. That is in my opinion. I worked so hard at school to be able to get into university. I remember how fun school was and also how sometimes I hated it. It was during those days that I was not a big fan of school that I actually made it. I spent 6 years in boarding school. Those were years well spent because they made me tough. I would spend almost 3 months away from home every school term. The first time that happened I remember thinking, ‘my parents just got rid of me. They don’t love me’. They were preparing me for the future ahead. I wasn’t always going to be around my family. I had to learn to adapt and survive. They also sent me away to get a better education.
The campus of the university I went to was not so big but in a town with not so many black people, I was the only black person on campus for the duration of my studies. Initially it was hard. I yearned to have someone I could relate to or who could relate to me. I made friends and that made my life on campus and my studies easier. I was driven to finish my studies and put aside any feelings of feeling alone.
What makes me stronger?
With every experience I have had, I changed my way of thinking. If I back down I will always be that person who backs out of a challenge. This one time I was at work. I worked as a checkout chick at one of the largest supermarkets in Australia, Woolworths. That was the first time I had ever experienced racial discrimination in this country. Now don’t get me wrong, none of my colleagues had ever treated me any differently. That day I had a customer come and yelled at me because I was not from this country and I had an accent and I should not be here. If you know me and have heard me speak English, you will know that yes I do have an accent but I am very well spoken. I stood there and told that man I did not appreciate how he spoke to me. My manager came to my rescue and told him to leave. That was the beginning of many.
Post university I got my job and every once in a while I would get that one patient who would come and tell me, ‘go back to where you came from.’ This one time I had had a long day and I asked this man, ‘ where is that, where I came from?’ He then told me he had no idea but this wasn’t my country. I asked him if he knew his history. I had just as much right to be here as he did. This beautiful country is multicultural and that is what makes Australia. He would not back down so I had one more card to play. “I came to this country by merit and choice and not in chains.” As much as most of the early settlers were mostly convicts, I do realize that there are many more that came here by choice. Myself being one of them, I have every right to be here.
The reason I am talking about this is to tell you that people will throw all sorts at you. Heck some will even fabricate stories to get rid of you. Do not let all this bring you down. Let that be the source of your strength. Recently I have harnessed my life experiences and made them give me courage to tackle things I never would have seen myself doing. We can take the reigns of our lives if we choose to. Do not let someone else sit in the driver’s sit of your life. Do not let someone else’s words be the reason you back out of a challenge. Let that be the reason you fight to win the challenge you are facing. I use the negativity in my life to drive me. If someone tries; they fail because I turn into a positive.
To have an idea of how I have used my experiences and made them my strengths, tune into SBS weeknights at 6pm and watch the new cooking show. The Chefs Line. I had the privilege of cooking with some awesome home cooks and that will be shown this week. I had an awesome opportunity to prove to those who doubted me and bad-mouthed me that I can rise from the ashes and do something exciting with my life. Like a phoenix one can rise from the ashes to become something better and greater.
If you do not have SBS on your television or happen to be in a different country or continent, do not despair as you can still tune in. I have the link for you to watch online at the bottom.