#RealBloggerBeauty // Feeling I Don’t Belong

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Hi all! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Today’s post is in honor of my new blogger buddy, Maya of Charmingly Styled, and her #RealBloggerBeauty Project. Here’s a quick summary of the project in Maya’s words:

No one’s lives are always full of “Instagram-worthy” moments, and it’s time to embrace the messes, insecurities, and struggles of life together! On June 16th, a few of my favorite bloggers {and anyone else for that matter!} are joining forces to take a break from the usual strive for perfection to share an issue, struggle or charity that means something to them.”

So with that, today I’d like to share something that I’ve never discussed before and have only mentioned it in passing to close friends in a joking matter. It’s something I’ve struggled with, what feels like, my entire life – there’s no scientific word for it or psychological disorder that encompasses it. But I believe it’s a real struggle that I and I’m sure many others have faced. So here it is:

I’ve never felt I belong in the black community.

Now that’s probably super confusing, you’re thinking ‘but Ashlei….you’re black. What do you mean you don’t feel like you belong?

Well, lets start from the beginning – As a black person living in America I grew up pretty well off – not that my family was rolling in the Benjamins, but as a kid I never wanted for anything. My parents have always provided, supported, and encouraged me throughout my life and I’m fortunate and extremely thankful to come from such a strong support system.

However, I also grew up feeling like having that awesome support system ostracized me from the black community. To be completely honest, I didn’t have many black friends growing up. Not because I didn’t want any, but because I always struggled to relate. I was different, out of place and out of touch. It also didn’t help whenever I was with a group of black people I would constantly hear

Why do you act so proper?’,

Why do you talk like you’re ‘white’?

You act so ‘white’’

Girl, you’re so white on the inside

You’re not black’.

Throughout high school, in order to be accepted within the black community I felt like I had to act like someone I wasn’t. And news flash: I suck at pretending to be something I’m not. Therefore, the number of close black friends I had were few and far between. I got involved in “white activities” – I played lacrosse (and was damn good too), joined the marching band, participated in drama club. I even gave up playing basketball, which I was actually pretty good at as well, because girls on the team didn’t think I was “hard enough”.

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This continued up to college, because I felt constantly picked on and shot down for being” different” I avoided inserting myself in the black community. I even – wait for it – joined a “historically white” sorority (Zeta Tau Alpha), because in my head I didn’t think I would fit in or be accepted in a historically black sorority (this was a whole other inner struggle that would require another post to really get into it).

It wasn’t until moving to Chicago, going natural, and starting this blog that I finally began feeling a connection with the black community and that it was okay to just do me. I can dress the way I dress, talk the way I talk, and be the wonderfully awkward person I am today without feeling like I’m constantly being  judged – and if I was, not giving two shits.

While it completely sucked at the time, looking back, I’m thankful for the struggle. As with any struggle you may face, it’s made me who I am today. Yes, my closests friends are white and for my wedding my bridesmaids will probably all be white, but so what? My friends are freaking amazing and I don’t care if they’re black, white, blue, or yellow.

I’m also thankful for this blog, my readers, and the people it’s connected me to. Again growing Kinks has made me feel like I’m reconnecting with the camaraderie and just pure awesomeness the black community can offer. I’ve never mentioned this, but everytime I put up a post I secretly hope some awkward black girl out there reads it and realizes it’s okay if you don’t fit the mold of your community. Be different. Embrace it. Granted there are experiences and people I may have missed out on growing up, there are also people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had that I wouldn’t change for the world. And to be honest, I don’t know if I would have had those opportunities had I held myself back and try to play the part of someone I wasn’t.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope this gives you a little more insight on me and that it wasn’t too long-winded or made you feel I was having a pity party – that couldn’t be further from what I want.

If you enjoyed this and would like to read some more real stories head on over to Charmingly Styled where you’ll find the #RealBloggerBeauty link up.

As always, thanks for reading!

‘til next time!

xx

Filed Under: Positivity, Self-Esteem

22 Responses to #RealBloggerBeauty // Feeling I Don’t Belong

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I know it couldn’t have been easy. I am biracial (Black and White) and I have definitely experienced feeling outside of both Black and White communities. It is something that has become easier for me to navigate as I’ve gotten older but it was nice to read this post and have some of my past/present experiences verbalized. Glad you have found your own unique ways to connect! :)

    • Thank you Eliseba! I know those who are biracial can find it especially hard to feel like they “fit in”. My fiance is biracial and he’s told me many stories of struggling with his personal identity. I agree it definitely gets easier as you get older and I hope you’ve found your own ways to connect as well! :) Thanks for commenting!

      xx

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Ashlei. I identified with your struggle, as it was similar to mine–not only did I not fit in because of my vernacular and was described as an “Oreo,” but I was also an African girl. In other words, seen as utterly different by most of my black peers. (This still boggles my mind.) But it took time and self-acceptance and amazing, varied friends to help me to see that there’s nothing like not fitting in! :) I think that’s why I named my blog This Square Peg. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Shirely, first I LOVE your blog name! And you said it perfectly – “there’s nothing like not fitting in”. You meet so many different people and end up trying so many different things, it’s amazing! I’m glad to hear you were able to find friends who value your differences :) Thanks so much for commenting and sharing a little bit of your story.

      xx

  3. This is so beautifully written! And probably one of the best posts I’ve come across. I can’t imagine how you felt and probably still feels at times. You’re brave for sharing your story. Keep doing what you’re doing, girlfriend!

  4. Ashlei! So glad you were able to open up about this. I think it’s super cool that Maya has inspired us to be a little vulnerable and it looks like it is turning out that everyone’s struggles has made them a better person! Imagine that 😉

    Anywho, I like your black side and your white side girlfriend :) Keep doin’ what you’re doin’

    Loved hanging out with you on Saturday!
    xo
    Katelyn

  5. I felt like this was my story, hahaha! I never understood why people think there is a certain way ‘act’ black/white etc etc. Ah well, as long as you are yourself, right? That’s the only role I’ll play 😛

    • Jaleesa, I feel ya! I never understood why there was a certain way to act either, just act like yourself – I suddenly got the urge to sing ‘True Colors’ from the Save The Last Dance soundtrack, haha! I’m going to refrain from typing out the lyrics, but know I’m jamming out right now. 😀

      xx

  6. I have loved reading all these #RealBloggerBeauty stories. I’m glad you shared your struggle, I love the part about “it’s okay to just do me.” So true, when it comes to ALL of our struggles!

  7. LOVE this! Thanks for sharing. I have often felt not “enough” in this world for various reasons… It’s awesome to see that I’m not alone.

  8. And I thought I was the only one. I am a twenty something with a very similar struggle. Talking with my mom about how I so did not fit in to our community as a child recently was a really revealing conversation. I also often got the “you act, dress, step, listen, talk, shop, and everything else like a white girl” comments. Knowing that others have struggled with something similar really makes you feel less like you’ve done something wrong and are to be blamed for truly being “yourself.” Thanks Ashlei! This was so great.

    • I agree McKensie, it feels so good to know others have had similar struggles. We all have a place in this world and a community we’re meant to be a part of, it just takes some time to figure out where. Thanks for reading, I’m so happy you enjoyed it.

      xx

  9. I’ve been reading through the #realbloggerbeauty hashtag and want to thank you for sharing this! I feel like I could have written part of it myself. I got the same types of “why do you act white?etc.” comments from my peers growing up. I felt my “otherness” so strongly in the presence of “my own”. For college I went to a majority white conservative college and majored in classical music (Opera specifically) I was surrounded by mostly white people all the time. There I felt my otherness even stronger as a black girl with curly-poofy hair (For some reason they expected me to be the voice of all black girls constantly because I was the only one.). I found a few good friends who loved me for just being Haley with no conditions, but I had to grow to a place of self-acceptance and not really caring what people thought of me. Reading your story helped me feel less alone in the struggle! Thank you!

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Haley! I can definitely relate to being looked at as the one voice of all black girls – with so much variety in our culture it’s hard to pinpoint one voice that speaks for all. I’m so happy to hear you were able to find those special friends who love you for you and grow to accept yourself. Keep doing you, girlfriend!

      xx