For as long as I can remember, I’ve never stayed in one place for too long, whether it be houses, schools, cities, countries or even continents. This has made me very adaptable to my surroundings.
While others have seen moving away as sad, to me it has always meant new beginnings. I first moved from Cape Town, South Africa to Montreal, Canada when I was 9 years old.
Moving from my home was scary but very exciting. I am very grateful for that move and will forever thank my parents for moving me. In Canada, I get a quality education I wouldn’t otherwise get. I have met so many people from many backgrounds.
However, moving comes with a lot of pressure, including the pressure of fitting in. As soon as I moved to Montreal, I went to a girls school. I can remember already feeling out of place. I felt different from the other girls, and the girls would not let me forget it either. I was always known as the “black girl,” the “African,” “the weird new girl.” I figured out that I didn’t want to be different so I changed my accent. I acted differently. Thinking back now, it was stupid, but I wanted so hard to fit in. After a while, I just became “normal” to everyone, which in retrospect just means I assimilated. At home is when It was time to be the weird, crazy girl with an accent.
That is why it was hard for me to figure out who I was. I never knew if I was the MK at school or at home. I don’t think I was fully able to figure out who I was until last year. Coming to Stanstead was when I was able to mesh the MK from home and the MK from school. Spending 24 hours with the same people 7 days a week, it’s hard to hide who you are. I was scared that people would start calling me weird and isolating me again.
The exact opposite happened. People, of course, called me weird, but instead of pushing me away, they embraced me. People liked hanging out with the weird me. It was then I made friends who know me for who I really am and who love me for it. It was then I was able to make real connections with people. Real friends love you for who you are, flaws and all.
It is then when friends become family, because if I think of it, I have my big brother Mathieu who gives me hugs when I’m down. He can be annoying at times but everyone loves him anyway. I have my mom Daliah who takes care of me and keeps me on the right track, always cheering me on to do my best. Even when we fight and I get on her nerves, we love each other regardless. I have my sisters Erin and Alex who a day does not pass when we don’t laugh. Alex who never passes judgement and Erin who will be behind me 100%, pick me up whenever I’m down. My crazy cousin Tam who lights up my day and makes me feel normal when I’m around her. My real brother TK who reminds me that I’m not alone and makes me feel at home. They all play a role in making my experience one that is worthwhile.
All this to say that we all have an opportunity to make our own family at Stanstead. Mine might be a bit dysfunctional but that’s ok. My advice to everyone here is to be yourself and don’t let anyone change who you are. The people who stick by you when everyone else is against you are the people who become your little family.
Without my dysfunctional family, I don’t know what I would do, so I can encourage you to go out and find yours. When you aren't true to who you are, you are constantly lying and acting to convince those around you of this false version of yourself. It causes so much stress. It is simply easier to be yourself.
One thing to always remember is that an original is always worth more than a copy. It is important to be who you are because you will find people value you as an original and would never want you to change.