She reminded me of her. She was a stranger on a screen, but she reminded me of the one whose name I was given. As the scenes continued on and story progressed, I realized I was being reduced to silence. My thoughts are still loud and frequent, but my mouth has sealed shut from the gravity of it all.
She was an immigrant to a new country. She was learning a new language, new culture. She did everything to provide a better future for her children. She cleaned houses and businesses to make ends meet. She wrote. She wrote often.
It was like watching my grandmother on screen.
Sometimes I take my life and the luxuries afforded to me for granted. The youngest of my siblings and the only one born in the United States. My parents and family immigrated to this country. My father was active duty military and, due to deployments, was rarely home. My mother needed to take care of everything for the family in his absence. She worked odd jobs and any job. She went from being the supervisor at the bank in Samoa to working the graveyard shifts at the post office and going door-to-door selling Avon. My mom is a hustler. That drive must have come from her mother, my namesake.
Though there were significant differences in the movie in comparison to my own life, I couldn’t help but think of everything my grandmother and mother went through just to provide opportunities that were not available for them, for myself and my siblings. It’s humbling. It reminded me that to be still and do nothing is a waste of their efforts and my potential.
Faith in God and my Family are the two foundations I rely on the most. If I claim to love both, then I should be doing everything in my power to continuously build upon their foundations.
This was the perspective reset that I needed today. I need to remember this with each day that life brings. The time to trust in myself and my own capabilities is now.
Mama, I know you’re always with me. I know you’re guiding me. I know you walk with me through every step. Thank you. Thank you for everything. I won’t let you down.
Sometimes the smoke around us becomes so thick after so long, we become comfortable in being unable to see what’s beyond the haze.
Other times we’re the frog from the example often used in science classes to display how easily we can be in danger without realizing it until it’s too late. We’re the frog sitting in a pot of water that’s being brought to a boil, but because the water is changing gradually, the frog does not recognize its own impending destruction until it’s far too late to escape – or, if it does escape, the injuries and scars will forever remain.
Before last year, everything was in a haze. Anytime the smoke would clear, I would find a way to make it cloudy again. Because, that’s what was comfortable. It was the typical story of one step forward, two steps back – except I would try to run a mile the way I run the 100 yard dash; only to exhaust myself and lay down halfway, even though I knew the finish line was closer than when I first began (Sprinting is my thing; long distance is something I’m learning to do).
Why is this the year of trust? Before last year, my hazy outlook caused me to think that I was living fully, when clearly, I was not. I didn’t trust life. I didn’t trust anyone. I didn’t trust myself. I acted like I did. I said I did, but in reality, I didn’t. Self-deception is far too easy, and we do it all the time. It wasn’t until I finally let the smoke settle and clear that I realized without having trust and confidence in myself, of course I wouldn’t be able to have trust or confidence in anything or anyone else. Some people refer to it as an “aha moment”, but it’s not like that moment comes and now you can suddenly live and execute that epiphany flawlessly in your life. It takes time. It takes determination. Especially on the days when motivation is non-existent. It takes confidence in one’s own abilities. It takes me learning to persevere. To run, jog, walk, and even crawl, but to never stop moving forward.
This is the year of trust. Trusting in the moment. Trusting in the timing. Trusting in myself.
With the smoke and haze, I was petrified of the future.
Now, I’m excited.
I know life likes to play games.
Make me upset.
No one leaves this world complete, or maybe some do, but, I digress.
There are people in my life,
who I swear are Heaven sent.
What did I do to deserve them?
I don’t know. Must be blessed.
Thank you, Lord, for these people,
All praise to the most high
I owe my life to You, and for each of them,
I will live this life serving, helping,
making the world brighter than when I began.
Trusting in the timing.
No more worries about my future.
I write this now because I know,
I don’t always feel the sunshine on my face
Or see the beauty within the storm,
I know I am blessed,
because of Jesus,
Our Christ & Lord.
Samoan. That’s the first identifier that comes to mind after my name. Okay, maybe my age comes before that, but my ethnicity is at least third. Being Samoan has always been a huge part of my identity. It is both my ethnic background and the culture of my home growing up.
16 February 2018
When I first began and stopped writing this post, obviously there was something that sparked this interest. Perhaps it was this video I watched of Pacific Islanders breaking stereotypes and letting people know what it’s like to hear unintentionally and intentionally racist comments. Maybe I was distracted by something that caused me to walk away, but here comes a small story-time related to what I began writing above.
Last night, after watching the brilliantly amazing Black Panther, my friends requested and found a boba place to get something to drink before we went home. As we pulled into the parking lot, however, there was a mob of people crowded outside the door. We rerouted, and somehow ended up at a brewery. Boba and Beer are pretty similar, you know.
Fast-forward after two rounds, a guy breaking about six glasses by crashing into a table, that guy putting his hand on my shoulder and getting escorted away by a bartender, and then that bartender apologizing three times while telling stories that all shared the underlying moral of “you can’t reason with drunk people”. There was a dude whose hovering was way too strong, and who got my attention by first asking what my ethnicity is. Actually, I heard him say, “… I think she’s Samoan… look at her hair man… I think she’s Samoan…”, and then saying, “Hey, are you Samoan? What are you?” After confirmation of my ethnicity and turning back around, he complimented my hair. As soon as I said, “thank you”, my friends knew it was time to get going.
My sense of time was a bit skewed, but he ended up behind me again after what seemed like 10 minutes. Mind you, we are sitting at the bar, no other bar stool behind me, and last call had already passed. Funny example of a deflated masculine ego: Dude was trying to get our attention and asked “where are you guys from?” about three times before saying, “must be dikes.” (Side note – Guys, just because a girl isn’t interested, doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a lesbian. If anything, you just might be creeping her out. Just FYI. Leave her alone) My girls didn’t hear the butt-hurt comment, but nevertheless, downed their drinks and I got my keys to go.
We were on our way out when he said something again. I turned confused and he repeated “Are you married?” I should’ve said yes, but I said no, and he said “Oh, so you just don’t like me?”. I just laughed with a “didn’t say that (awkward drunk man who looks about 15 years my senior and who I hope doesn’t try to follow us outside)”. The bartender called out, “Have a good night” and we walked briskly out the door. IHOP afterwards helped reset the night. I dropped my friends off, and took the two and a half hour drive to the desert.
There are several morals to this story but, to my non-Samoan/non-Polynesian/non-islander friends, please do not touch our hair. Yes, we are patient, but do not be so foolish as to push us to the point of your regret.
To Everyone: Do not ask someone “What are you?” My response is usually “human” or “alien” depending on my mood. “What’s your race?” – “Human. I belong to the human race”. “What’s your nationality?” – “American.” “Where are you from?” – “California”. “No, like, where are you REALLY from?” – “SOUTHERN California”. My ethnic background is Samoan. My ancestors are from the islands of Samoa. Ask me about my ethnicity.
And, to the guys, boys, men, my dudes… y’all are so appreciated and loved, but please don’t be creepy. Please. You’ll know you’re being creepy if a girl is not interested or responding to you, though you persist and persist. There’s no chance. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, you know, all those metaphors; so please, if she is acting uninterested and not reciprocating the same energy, leave her be. To simplify it a bit more, she don’t want you. I say that emphatically. She. Don’t. Want. You. I do have advice though: Friend-zone girls. This actually goes both ways. Treat people like human beings first, and your chances of possibly getting closer with them will be considerably higher, I guarantee. Know your worth without treating others like they’re less than you and people will recognize and acknowledge your worth.
Wakanda… I mean, Samoa Foreva. Black Panther was honestly epic, I’m still kinda shook.