I was born in Nigeria, moved to America when I was 10 years old. I’ve lived in Staten Island since then. I think it’s been about 19 going on 20 years now. I’m a photographer. The first few years of moving to America were very strange and difficult. For the reasons anybody else migrating from a different country would experience. Didn’t fit in. Had a lot of cultural values that I grew up with when I was in Nigeria that just didn’t translate well into American society. Things were just very different, language is different. So a lot of what I had to deal with was learning how to transition smoothly into life as an American. So I think a lot of that was forced by bullying and you either learn to transition over time or you’re forced to make that transition but either way it happens.
I think looking back now, I’ve been able to really look back on my life and dig up a wealth of knowledge as opposed to understanding what was happening when it was happening. So now I can look back and easily look at how my interactions were in seventh grade when I first got to America and how those were not necessarily the typical kid experiencing bullying. It was more so a forceful assimilation. I think a lot of people go through this when they move away from the country that they grew up in. You’re forced to assimilate into the culture and country that you’re living in. I think I’ve been able to look at my experience. I think those little moments shaped how I got to grow up. I was a bit more reserved. I was a bit more calculated. I always wanted to have control of who I was. I never wanted to lose control of that. And I think it’s affected how I interact with people and that feeling of isolation, I think is just something that was a result of that because I don’t fit in, I have to create a space for myself where I feel like I have a good control of who I am and I don’t need anyone else necessarily.
So I think those kind of moments led to me thinking of isolation as a protective tactic or defense mechanism, if you will. And then the process of that in my twenties, I got to meet a bunch of really great brother like figures who ended up being like mentors of mine. And then they opened me up to the idea of you don’t have to do things alone. You can do things with people. And then those were kind of the first people that I really identified with because they were on the same wave-length as I was. They had very similar interests in martial arts and Eastern philosophy and just the arts and being creative and all these different things that I was interested in, but I just didn’t know how to go about pursuing them. So in feeling isolated, I got to meet people who showed me there’s another side to that. And that’s why I harp on community so much because as much as someone can feel like they’re alone, there’s like a pocket of community for you. You just have to be able to do the work to find it.

You may also like

Back to Top