Thursday, June 18, 2009

How not to piss me off

I'm a fairly stable person. Slow to anger, certainly. And even when you piss me off, I don't shout or bang doors. really get to me. Like when you compare me with someone else. It's one of those things I just can't stand. My voice falters. I react immediately and I feel a tightening in my chest. This is what will be going on in my mind. or if i shout, what I'll tell you. Well, fuck it, i'm not that person. I'm never going to be that person. I'm not even trying to be that person. Shit, that person and I are like fish and dog. That's what I told someone this morning.

Every day of my life, i'm trying to be myself. Find what I am, find what I like, find how i react, why i react as i do, what has my past got to do with it, what has my present got to do with it, what has my future got to do with it, what does truth and authenticity have to do with it, what does religion and morality have to do with it? Who am I, who do I want to be? Why do I want to be that? What's wrong with who I am now? And when i get there, then what? I'm always digging deep, into myself. Many hours of introspection. I try. I have to try, because this world will tell you what to want, what to like, even what to be if you don't answer that question for yourself. So I think part of the reason I react so violently when you compare me with another person is because it is so important to me to be me. the best version of me, certainly but me, nonetheless.

Some history.

I was an only child for the first ten years of my life. With no siblings, there was no one to compare me with. I didn't have to be as smart as anyone else or as beautiful or as polite or anything. I was a smart kid, but I wasn't first in class...i suspect, mostly because I was careless and impatient. I'm still careless. I'm still impatient. But that's okay. Point is, my parents were alright with me. Report time was only a time to see how I'd done in school.No one ever asked me why I wasn't this or that. I wasn't expected to be anything but who I was. So i grew up thinking I was okay. However I was. And i think i turned out okay. I still think i'm great, and i know myself more than you know me, so that's the end of that discussion. When you ask me why i can't be like someone're messing with a system i believe in. And you're telling me i'm not okay.

My response? Fuck you.

If you think think x, y, z rocks your boat, then go hang out with x, y, z. Don't try to get me to become like x, y, z, because i'm not even going to try. I'm not interested. I'm too busy trying to be more of me. How good of x,y,z can i ever get? Even if i tried, I'd never be x or y or z. I'll always just be me. And me is great, so love it or leave it.

Now that doesn't mean i won't ever grow or change but i'm never going to be trying to change to be like x. So you can tell me you think i'm too insensitive. And i'll consider your opinion. I really will. And if i think there's some value in being diplomatic, i'll try to be that. I'll try. But I won't be changing because you asked me to. I'll be changing because you brought my attention to something, i've considered it, and made the decision myself. But if you come to me and say Esi, why can't you dress like Ama. I'm going to tell you...I'm not Ama. Let Ama dress like Ama, and allow me to dress like me.

Yeah, this whole post is true, and it's about me. I know that this blog is supposed to be about Ghana and all that good stuff but some days, a woman just has to talk about what's foremost on her mind.

If forced to find a link between this entry and the general theme of the blog, i'd say sometimes i wish Ghanaians would discover what it means to be Ghanaian, create Ghana, be Ghana, instead of imitating. Sure, you can be inspired by something you've seen elsewhere. You can see someone carve a unity stand from a tree and you can ask yourself, given the same material, what would i do with it? what would i create? But don't take the damn tree and reproduce the unity stand...what are you thinking? what did you bring to it?

Wo se ekyir...nyE wo dEw, a, EhO ara na etafer is another way of yourself. you're all you've got.

But if you take away nothing from this post, take this: Learn to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. ~Henri Frederic Amiel


  1. Go on Girl!!! Keep on being you

  2. So inspirational! A well written post that made me think about... myself. :-)

    I also have a request for you. COuld you write something about Ghanaian titles, like "Auntie", "Madam", "Sista'" etc. I find myself confused on who I can call "wofa" and who I should address as "MrX" or even something else...Please educate me and the other readers!

  3. Who got your feathers ruffled like that! I feel you on the comparison stuff. Not cool at all but that's all we do especially in Ghana. Sibling comparison is the worst. Instead of encouraging individuals to be the best they can be, we tend to want them to immitate others.

    One thing that really breaks my heart is the comparison of students in an academic setting! Goodness! What would the poor dyslexic ones do! Anyways, girl, take a couple deep breaths and get some ice water :)You wonderful the way you are!

  4. Now, I don't know how long you know this person, but if they didn't have a problem with the way you dressed etc. then, why now?
    If you keep trying to change the way you talk, eat dress, speak just to please someone , can you then truly say at the end of the day that you are Esi Cleland?
    You are fab the way you are- bun all dem bad mind people.

  5. Ok...easy girl, easy. Don't let them get to you like that. Smile. You are lovely the way you are. Don't mind 'em!

  6. Fabulous blog lady! (I know I'm a little late). I feel you completely. In a sense, this topic is very much about Ghana/-ians, as it IS a socio-cultural tendency of ours to make comparisons, especially in family life. As the baby in the family, comparing me to all older sisters, family friends, school friends, annonymous kids on TV and even freakin passers-by was the order of the day. It took me a good 20 years to realize I had a spirit all my own that couldn't be shaped and heard by anyone other than myself.

    So, yessss Goddess, the f-You attitude is right on point... LOVE this blog!

  7. Fuckin' hell Esi, your post got me quite worked up! Why cant ppl just get that I can't be who they think I should be or like someone else...just because. I can only BE myself! And i've had to remind way too many ppl of this... Sometimes I get the feeling ppl are threatened by that seeming independence that comes from the pursuit of self-understanding. The individual in Ghana must subsume their personality, creativity, talent etc...their very self within the group's stale and unchanging identity. I've come to believe that the only way I can contribute fully to my community is to be no one else but me.

  8. Trying day and night to be like somebody else, in my opinion, is tragic.
    Individuality and diversity should never be sacrificed for comformity.
    Be you as best as you only can be.

  9. you forgot to ask:"what's love got to do with it"?;-D I think Tina Turner offers some insights when she sings that classic "You're simply the best; better than all the rest. Better than anyone; anyone I've ever met."!

    Have a good w/end and chill small. I beg...

  10. @Anthony....You've noticed Ghanaians are afraid of change. Its true, our risk averse nature is a direct result of the groups unwillingness to step outside of what we've known to try something new. Its a primary reason why we are seen as uncreative and frankly boring. We seem to thrive on doing things the same way they have been done for decades. As a nation, we have become rather stale and predictable. It reflects in our politics;living on past glory.. economy; no risk taking, little entrepreneurial spirit and defunct film industry that is bent on imitating the West and our green and white neighbor. Try anything new, and Ghanaians will call you name like "ale tso" (too known). We live for the status quo. Unfortunately no group of people can move forward with that mentality.

  11. Yay! True Ghanaians 1 - Wannabes 0

  12. Snaps to everything you said. 2 snaps.

    -Nana DK ;)

  13. I love this post. So, so very true. I am not even going to go there with my mother. Um hmm...

  14. Esi O, don't mind them. They want you to be like Michael Jackson. They will laugh at your big nose and black skin and when you change to please them, they will start saying you looked better as a black kid. This tendency is not Ghanaian, it is human.

    Next time they try that on you, don't blast them. Just call me. I will come and literally pepper their nyass. Insolent buffoons.

    But I'm also concerned that they got to you so much, you had to swear on your blog. Easy, my dear. Easy does it.