Tag Archives: pride

#344 ~ It’s about trust

I grew up being called stubborn. Not even just stubborn but defiant. When you think of the word defiant in the my context, you can’t pronounce it like the English – def-i-ant. No, you must think of my Yoruba father and state with complete authority – def-eee-ant. I was defiant. It was my way or the bloody highway. I was Miss Superwoman by virtue of being alive. I could absolutely do all things through Christ who strengthened me, and sometimes just by me who strengthened me. Stubborn. Defiant. Proud – very proud.

Yet I used to think part of this was because I needed and sought to assert myself in the world as a woman and a younger sibling. I’ve lately been learning it had more to do with trust. I didn’t seek help from people who I thought could or would use that moment of aid as a means against me. Count it as a debt towards me. Ultimately I didn’t trust people’s intentions or reasoning. Even very close friends.

Yet there is something precious when you realise you share a relationship with someone who expects nothing in return, especially when that’s a guy. They aren’t walking you home to get into your home. They don’t pay for your dinner to get a shot at taking you to dinner. They give, and they leave. They treat you as a platonic friend. In fact they just treat you as a human being.

You know you are blessed in such a fashion not only when you can contact someone and ask them to wake up at 4am so you can hand in an essay in their college, but when a few months later, you text them after midnight, your brakes haven frozen, and ask them a) to explain the mechanics of how your bike works whilst you shiver in the bitter winter on a poorly lit street and desperately need the toilet and b) when after carrying your bike over a bridge which has a specific name so bestowed because of its arduous climb, they appear with break fluid to try their best to fix your bike.

And then after all that they leave. In peace. Expecting nothing in return. Assuming nothing in your desperate SOS call except there was a friend in need. And you know they see you as a friend, and you know you feel safe to ask, because you flicked through all the other people who could potentially fulfil this engineering role and you rejected them, because you don’t trust them – at least not yet.

So maybe i’m not that proud. Maybe i’m just extremely cautious – and bad at engineering.

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#216 ~ SRI

Anger and self-righteous indignation are dangerous compositions. Violent reactors, they explode from the weakest of catalysts, overwhelming the senses and the faculties of control into an irreparable and irredeemable place of shame and weakness. The struggle to batten down pride, silence the defensive voice and whittle down the invisible chip is a hard fight to conquer.

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#152 ~ Stepping into the Spool

I began University with an arrogance. The protagonist in my own self-inflicted tragedy, my A-level grades formed a part of the hubris that set me on a trajectory for rapid disappointment. The arrogance that breeds when one’s ego is gently and regularly massaged doesn’t help to prepare one to learn. It helps to prepare one to be audacious in thinking they are Stevie’s Misstra Know-it-All.

The ego grows a brittle shell-like skin, fragile at the gentle crack of a reproof, comment of improvement, or just down-right criticism. The yolk of self-confidence dribbles out, messy, unsightly, premature without form. If someone doesn’t care enough or isn’t fast enough to catch it, the melee of yellow and white fluids congeal and drizzle onto the kitchen floor, to be mashed, squished, and pressed into the faint cracks that line the grime covered tiles.

Yet, that calcified shell needs to be cracked in order for the nutrients, the potential for either life, or a well fried egg, to be born. The hubris that would led to one’s harmatia needs to be corroded away through the gruelling process of real teaching, in order to, one day, after many spillages, premature bursts and half-boiled constructions, be mixed with the milk of maturity, seasoned with the salt of humility and filled with the mushrooms, cheese, peppers and meats of critical potential, to produce a humble, delightful, inspirational student who wants to learn, and therefore, one day, will be able to teach.

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#117 ~ Student Living – Hard Times

When you trade in Alpro soya milk for Sainsbury’s Basic Value Unsweetened Soya that comes in a recyclable carton, is not refrigerated and costs 57p, you can either lie and tell yourself you are being economically suave, or simply ‘you is broke’.

I worked hard in the summer. Beating up the pavements with my above-board superwoman-esque Charity-Fundraising-Dialogue techniques, i incurred the wrath of the apathetic and charity-harrangued public for six hard weeks after my A-levels. My first day someone told me that all the people in Africa should be gathered together and nuked. I had been threatened, in Clapham Junction, with a snake-hissing charity-hater. I had been called a chugger – an insulting and degrading term of ‘charity mugger’ which we endeavoured to re-appropriate into charity hugger. I had shaken scaly unwashed hands, I had been ‘chirpsed’, I had been abused by hail and rain, smoke and pain  –  lots of pain. Yes, I worked hard, I prayed hard, kept up a smile and was successful.

For a first job, i would not recommend charity fundraising. It can be soul destroying. When my normally nonchalant brother called to check on me after my first day, I collapsed, in tears on our front steps. I tasted my mucus, it was salty, and stank of the streets. I remember getting actual panic attacks in the morning. Asthma attacks even, at the fearful thought of going out in public to become a victim to ‘busy’ London. But I survived.

Paying for all of this upfront took that beautiful, luxurious word ‘savings’ straight out my mouth, like a man in Wembley expertly spitting quat. 

I was proud that my hard work had paid off, and not only could I afford to pay for my sister and I to go away for a week to the incredible Christian youth event  Momentum, but I could also afford to survive in Uni. Yes. For once, I had positive credit to my name in the style of a CASH ISA. That’s right – I had savings. Such a delectable word. Say it again, as the Hyenas call in the Lion King, except instead of the name Mufasa it is Savings. Savings, savings, ssssavings.

*Drops back down to frugal reality. It hurts.*

I am a student. Student = student living  = hard times.

  • When you get to the point where you are mixing last night’s burnt rice with undercooked, unwashed lentils, raw curry powder, shito pepper and Red Leicester cheese, lying to yourself that it’s a meal, you are on the way to rock bottom.
  • When that is after an exam, you are having problems.
  • When you trade in Alpro soya milk for Sainsbury’s Basic Value Unsweetened Soya that comes in a recyclable carton, is not refrigerated and costs 57p, you can either lie and tell yourself you are being economically suave, or simply ‘you is broke’.
  • When you have run out of hair oil and have to use coca butter to prevent dandruff attaching itself to your afro – cocoa butter (yes, not even vaseline as if you could afford that?!), that’s when you need to join Kanye’s Broke-phi-Broke fraternity.
  • When you do not have a phone because you cannot afford to buy one, and if someone bought one for you, you could not top it up, then, well then it really is the beginning of the end.

In the space of 10 days I have achieved all the above. Yes, all the above.

I do eat my cereal with a teaspoon to pretend that the dust particles of Basics Muesli really do count as a meal,

And it’s not because I’m a squanderer, no, not at all. It’s because

  1. My University works on an arrears payment system,
  2.  I recently decided to work for 5 weeks in South Africa,
  3. I am required to buy at least 3 Shakespeare plays a week to complete my weekly essays – and they have to be Arden.

Paying for all of this upfront took that beautiful, luxurious word ‘savings’ straight out my mouth, like a man in Wembley expertly spitting quat.

Yet, even if I do eat my cereal with a teaspoon to pretend that the dust particles of Basics Muesli really do count as a meal, I am reassured that I am ok. It is a journey and I have people who will pick me up when I fall and help me on my way. It is also an initiation into the life that people have half-heartedly joked art students inevitably wander into. I have lovingly started naming the baked beans in my, obviously, Sainsbury’s Basics can. When we get down to Bill, Bob and Ben…well that’s a sad day.

Yet, I am blessed. Blessed to be able to laugh and share and reminisce in it, because I have two beautiful people who remind me that  it is the learning curve into maturity and adulthood. It’s also the time when we are humbled in our beliefs that wealth, economic prowess, savings – they can be stripped away in an instant. And it makes you question  – are you humble enough to admit an economic weakness, receive support and grow again, or does your worth and pride consume you and prevent an honest, humble acknowledgement that you can’t afford your ride?

Student living. It’s hard times but it is well worth getting on this ride of experience.

(Also, learn how to make soup. I have some parsnips and a leek in my fridge. I have recently learnt that I only need those 2 ingredients to make…parsnip soup! Jame Oliver, eat your heart out.).

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#92 ~ Look UP

As a tall individual, from a young age I grew accustomed to moulding my body in order to ‘fit in’. This practice took on a range of manifestations. The slight bend of the neck which was glamourised by Horatio Cane in CSI Miami, the curved back which many a lanky rock star utilises, the bent knee-walk beautifully demonstrated by Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, and most importantly, the lowering of the eyes as seen by all who hold the medal of being over 5″4. We embrace our world through the shortened perspective of what we think is the average. Our peripheral vision is squeezed out by a mentally conjured glaucoma, and sooner or later the chewing-gum, quat stained pavements become our blue-diamond sky lines.

Irrespective of height really, as people we seem to have this tendency to look down, burying ourselves into the gravitationally challenged domain of insects. And I don’t think it’s because our lives have become too busy, or because we rush and are impatient. I think it’s simply that we sometimes forget to step outside of ourselves, whether that be our lethargy, our self-importance, our own intelligence, pride, humility, everything that is us, and see things a-new.

I live in a beautiful college that has witnessed 500 years worth of human history. I pass through weather-beaten oak doors daily, walking over cobbled streets and stones, climbing up winding staircases inside medieval turrets that are so sheer I wonder I don’t break my elegantly bent neck one day.

And through it all, though every morning I wake up beside a quietly running river, run across a 300 year old poorly paved bridge, see the reflection of dusk painting a mirage on stained glass windows, I never see it. I never look up.

Today i stood aimlessly looking over the archway into my academic home. I was singing softly to myself as you do, the sun was slowly warming my Primark covered shoulders, and then I saw. The pale and flaking red paint that caressed the petals of the Tudor Rose, the gilt framed portcullis of Parliament. The, what I perceived to be daisies, curling over green vines, and in the middle two mythical goat like creatures, which Wikipedia tell me are Yales. From above the crest rises the magnificent wings of a soaring Eagle, poised with pride and power, strength and beauty.

The enormous weight of History pressed into me, tugged at me, and a sense of unity overcame me. I was part of this. I was part of this legacy. I was a member of this institution, I had a claim to this beauty. Me and my house for ever and ever.

And then I passed underneath. There wasn’t a miraculous transformation, I wasn’t vacuumed back to when the college was founded, or before when the monastery and hospital occupied that space. I was still wearing my nylon harem pants with the singed holes from when I sat too close to a fire. Yet I began to look up, and i noticed, really noticed so much more around me. The statue of a woman who guards second court, the bloodied lips of faces that ornate a glass top hat shaped structure that sits on top of Hall.

If we never look up, we’ll never see the grace and beauty that flies over our heads daily, we may never realise that we are here, have been here. That we are part of something. We may never appreciate even a fraction of what that something is. So look up with pride and expectation. Look up and smile.

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