My Expression

How Am I 26 Today?

I can’t believe I’m 26 today.  Writing that and saying it out loud is actually mad.  Little me has really turned big 26 today.  I’ve passed the middle ground of 25 and am even closer to 30 – a crazy and at times terrifying thought.

From the moment I turned 25, I was dreading this birthday and the prospect of being 26 made me proper sad.  However, I became accustomed to the thought of it as the day drew closer and today I think I’m actually okay.  I don’t particularly like getting older, but I am a lot more comfortable with the age I am now and don’t feel as many of the pressures that came with 25.  I’m more at ease with who I’ve become and how my life has changed.  I’m also out of 2017, which was a horrible year, and I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

You read that right, I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  In fact, I am in a proper good place.  A number of things have contributed to that, but it mainly comes down to the amazing God I serve and the impact He has had – and continues to have – on my life.  God has supported and comforted me time and time again.  He’s granted me strength and resilience, while taking me through storms.  He has my back and saved my life in more ways than I could imagine.  Being near to Him brings me peace, joy, validation and so much more.  My relationship with God is a true blessing.

I’ve also taken time to slow down a bit, properly reflect and take the time to understand what I’m actually doing in my life, as I lost myself for a little while.  This has enabled me to really be in the present and appreciate everything around me by really taking note.  I have also finally been able to see how much I have achieved and how much I have grown over the past few years, which is genuinely surprising to me and I personally believe is pretty amazing.

The course of my life may have changed when I left university, so I was not where I projected myself to be at 25, but I can now acknowledge that I have something even better and I am so proud of what I’ve done.  I’ve started and maintained my own platform for young people, which I intend to develop further.  I am a lyricist, published writer and performing poet.  I’ve put on a cross-arts programme in my home town two years in a row, bringing young people together and spreading positivity.  I’ve been paid for facilitating workshops and had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing young people.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet very special and wonderful people from different walks of life, who I greatly appreciate.  My YP Insight family, my always extending TCFT family, my Queens Gardens peoples, my Mitcham Library crew and everyone in between (I’ll do another post fully highlighting the beautiful people in my life, because they are so many to mention and they deserve the shout outs).  I don’t think I would have come so far without the support, advice and laughter provided by them all.

There is definitely a lot further for me to go, and there is a lot more power for me to tap into, but I’m feeling pretty good at 26 at the moment.  Even though I say I’m getting old or feel old, I’m actually still young and I have done quite a lot as a young person.  I’m also content with how my life is on a more personal level – being married and having kids right now would not be right for me at this time of my life at all with everything that I have to do.  I enjoy being single and having the freedom to do as I please – I’m also still getting to know me and working on some of the mess that remains within.

So right now, I can smile and say ‘Happy Birthday to Me.  Shaniqua, you are a wonderful, hilarious, beautiful-hearted girl who has so much to give to the world.  Don’t sell yourself short, be a slave to fear, or doubt your abilities.  With God you can do anything.  Love you girl.’

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Sexualised Floor General

Have you taken time, tick-tock of the stop clock time, to watch?
Sank into the sofa, pupils glued, mind open
Ignorance swept out the door
Snide comments left below the depths.

You might find it’s not as you’ve been brainwashed to believe.
Society’s unbalanced illusions filling crevices of your cranium
Not treating the “fairer sex” fairly
Slamming their skills, dunking on their capabilities.

You’re not about fair though, are you?
Unless it’s fair on the corneas.
Attention on attraction and appearance
In place of strength, stamina, sagacity.

Probably why you jumped in with the Fighting Irish
Was struck by the Shock
Diggin beauty over leadership
Floor general sexualised; raw energy and talent overlooked.

Do looks add elements to her game in any way?
Not enabling her to sprint from line to line any faster
Add spring to her layups
Swipe fiercer with the best of them.

Ability coming for her work ethic
Fundamentals instilled, same as the names around her
Often overlooked, less lusted for;
Ugly, masculine, butch their labels.

Why do aesthetics means more than flair displayed?
It would make sense for genuine fans
To appreciate the spectacle, get lost in the intensity
Whether played women or men.

Push your biases to the sidelines.
Enjoy each quarter play by play.
Watch the greatness of the game come alive.
Stop demeaning who could likely run hoops around you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaniqua Marie

Special Group of People

Yesterday was my final day on a project encompassing a series of creative sessions and workshops that came to mean a lot more to me than a job and I am going to miss very much.  How I was even able to get this job came as a result of a sequence of events that began with me simply being vocal and putting myself out there, but that is a subject for an entirely different blog post.

I first became acquainted with Mitcham Library last September as a facilitator for the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour, which was a wow moment to say the least, as I stepped into a library atmosphere I had never seen before.  Faced with a group of young people that were unlike any I had ever worked with, I knew that I had to take a particular approach to engage them and get at least some activities done in a workshop.  Fortunately, the approach I took led to me working with a group of young people that were very engaged, despite the number being small – this had to be the case though if we were going to get work done.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with them from the get-go and was given a quick reminder to not judge a book by its cover – these individuals will never be what you expect.  When I was given the opportunity to return to Mitcham Library as part of the tour, I jumped at the chance, as I wanted to follow through on the work I’d started.  I never imagined that I would be offered a long-term job opportunity at the library, but that’s what happened and I am so glad it did.

Not only was I going to get paid for doing what I loved – getting creative and working with young people – but I was going to have the chance to get to know these particular young people more and hopefully have some sort of positive impact in their lives.  I was ready and willing, although I knew it would not be the easiest of tasks and it ended up being one of the most unpredictable projects I have ever worked on.

I have loved it though, more than I can describe, and I was really sad when it came to an end yesterday.  I have genuinely looked forward to going into work every single week, and I missed being there the weeks that I was away – I’m really going to miss going there now that it’s over.  I love these young people, who have had a bigger impact on my life then I think they realise.  They have made me a better person and challenged my mindset even further, while helping me to find an affection for teenagers that replaced the disdain I had from them.

Week on week, I was cracked up with laughter and involved in some seriously interesting conversations.  I was blown away by their intelligence and impressed by the potential seen in most of them, which I hope they are able to tap into.  Slowly, I began to see barriers breaking down and trust being built, which I wish we could build on further, as six months wasn’t enough time to fully engage this group – they only got used to us more recently.

I adore my Mitcham Library Crew – the name affectionately given to the participants of the music workshop – and I was beyond proud of their growth over time, especially those who were brave enough to take to the stage and perform in Wimbledon Library.  They quickly became some of my favourite people, particularly my partner in crime, Conrad.  Everyone had a special part to play, including one girl who never got involved with the any of the music related activities, but would regularly come to simply support her friend – it would not have been the same without her.

And then there was drama, that varied to big groups playing games, to drama activities with four individuals, to in-depth chats with just one young person.  You never knew what you were going to get, but my drama partner, Rachael, and I enjoyed it all the same.  Some of the best conversations were had in those sessions and that is when I was able to develop a deeper understanding with a truly special young man who is going to do great things some day.

Being around all of the library staff was great too, engaging in conversations with them while having their support and expertise.  They were all lovely and greatly encouraging, but I have to give a special mention to the lovely Caprice, who would always chat to me and Rachael as we waited for Drama to begin, and also the wonderful Kurtis for a number of reasons.  Special mention to Sarah and Priyanka too.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some work in Mitcham Library again, but for now I’ll just have to do with making visits to see the group of people I have come to care about so much.  With determination, learning and support, these young people are going to go on to do great things and make me proud.  I will never forget them.