For my inaugural postings, I figured that some of you might want to know who I am.
Originally, this was going to be a post about my trip to Wilmington, but as I began to write I realized.... I don't really care about writing this down, so I know that you don't want to read something that I didn't care about writing. So here's a piece of me and I can't wait to share more.
I am from Daphne, Alabama. No-- not Mobile and Daphne are not the same. (I can only get to three places in Mobile: the mall, my grandma's and the hospital. I'm not going to get into the geographic or socioeconomic structure of lower Alabama. That's for another post, heck maybe a completely different site.) But, I always felt a little out of place at home. Daphne is a suburb in Baldwin County that grew from 15,000 to 24,000 people in the 18 years I lived there.
Daphne is small. It's a small town with small town folks, and at times small thinking. And in a place so small, it can even feel constricting like that shirt that is two sizes too small but you refuse to throw it away because your mom bought it for you. From a young age, I felt the tightness of the shirt. Almost, but not quite fitting.
Too smart. Not smart enough. Too black. Not black enough. These things made me feel even tighter growing up. Always in the "smart" kid or gifted classes, I was the only black student in my classes for a while. I didn't feel like I could live fully in my identity. The shows and music I enjoyed to at home were alien to my peers. I was silent in order to protect myself, but that suppression led to a bubbling over and then I became "the angry black girl." Too sensitive, too focused on race and with no sense of humor.
In high school, I was nearly broken down. Dubbed the smart girl, an oreo, uppity, a b*tch, the angry black girl--- but in reality I was tired of this too tight shirt. No one was offering me a new one, so I would make one for myself. It took until my senior year of high school to begin to live in my own skin. I stopped eating lunch with people that I didn't have much in common with outside of class. I started hanging out with the people who knew what my life experiences were like.
I began to truly laugh, rather than laugh to maintain the status quo. Yes, sing status quo at this part because I surely did.
In my last moments in the D... I knew that this place made me strong. I learned how to defend myself not only from the toxicity of others, but from myself.
If I could go back in time, I would tell 14, 15, 16 and 17 year old Kayla to love herself harder and deeper than she would ever want anyone else to. I would tell her to lean not on her own understanding, but on the Lord. I would tell her that yes, things seem awful right now-- but things will be so much better in the morning.
Now, is Daphne the absolute pits? No! That's Bay Minette (ba-dum-tiss)
Daphne is a place that made me so much of what I am today, and taught me how to treat myself. I love my hometown. I love that it's the home of so may of my loved ones. But, I want to do something so much bigger. I want to do things so big that they can scare me.
Every time a classmate says that they've been keeping up or that they are proud of me--- it reminds me that I'm doing the right thing.
I want to make my family and even D-Town proud.
More than anything, I want to make that child who never felt that she could fully be herself, proud of the woman I am and the woman I am becoming.