Up and Down

The past week has been a real mixture of feeling up and down.  I’ve been happy, I’ve been excited, I’ve been thriving, but then I’ve been depressed, upset and annoyed.

I’ve found myself questioning the people around me, wondering whether I truly belong in the different family units I’m a part of and worrying about my job.  I feel uncomfortable in the places where I once felt comfortable and prefer to be alone (or with my sister), not usually speaking to anyone.

Seeing my granddad ill cuts me deep, as I just want him to be okay again and hear him speaking to me.  I want to hear one of his silly jokes or listen to one of his stories about his childhood.

However, I’m happy about some funding I’ve secured and about my interview with East London Lines.  I’m thankful for having a home and money in my account when so many others don’t.  I’m glad that I have a job, which I not only enjoy, but is also close to my house.  I’m happy that I have a sister who I love very much, and who is also my best friend.

But more than anything, I’m thankful for the God I serve who continues to support me and reassure me, even when I find myself constantly worried.  I know He will never let me down and He keeps me from going under into that dark place, which is hard to get out of once I’m in it.  Knowing that I have Him and His promises keeps me up when there is so much that gets me down.

My Short Film

As you may know, I’m passionate about young people and young people being the change they want to see in the world.  In fact, I want young people to use their voices, particularly through writing, to make themselves heard and start making those changes.

What you may not know, is that I recently made a short film with a charity called Fixers, which uses media to help young people ‘fix’ something in their community.  We thought that spoken word would be a powerful tool, so I wrote a spoken word piece (with a couple of lines added by my girl Britney), which became the script for the film.  This was actually the first time I wrote a spoken word piece, but as you know, I’m now all about writing poetry.

The film was shot in my beloved hometown of Croydon and I had some great young people reading the script — four of them just happened to be my friends and family (shout out to the beautiful Jemel, Rhianna, Nahed and Naomi).

When I eventually saw the film, I was so happy that I cried and I couldn’t wait to show it to everyone.  I had a launch for the film last Monday and it went live on YouTube the same day, giving everybody the opportunity to watch it.

But of course, I wanted to write a little something and share it with all of you, the community of bloggers who I love so much.  So below is the film and I hope you like it.  This is ‘What Would You Say?’

The Real Shaniqua

I’m sure that a lot of people in my life would say that they know me, but I’m also sure that the majority of them have got that wrong.  I mean no disrespect when I make that statement, but it is the honest truth.

Yes, they know the happy Shaniqua; the jovial, bubbly, lively, sweet, friendly, outgoing, funny Shaniqua who “always has a smile on her face”.  I’ll admit that is the Shaniqua I am most of the time and that is the Shaniqua who is present on the surface, but it is also the Shaniqua that I allow them to see.

I wear the “happy” mask to keep the questions at bay and hide away from everything I am struggling with inside.  I wear the mask to put up barriers between them and me, because I don’t want to let people in.  I wear the mask because it’s easier.

The mask I wear hides the ugly and for people to really know me, you have to see the ugly.  I’ve had people run away when they’ve seen that I’m a little fragile and damaged, and there are numerous individuals who have been surprised by one of my moody outbursts on one of my dark days.

You don’t know the real me until you see me depressed and down.  You don’t know the real me until you hear me talk about my feelings of despair and unhappiness.  You don’t know the real me until you see me break down in tears.

You don’t know me until you get a look at the scars that border my arms.  You don’t know me until you learn about my trust issues.  You don’t know me until you know about my feelings of isolation and loneliness.  You don’t know me until you hear about my low confidence and self-esteem.

You won’t know the real me, until you see the back of me, turning around and walking away, because I can’t take it anymore and I need the space to be alone.

The real Shaniqua is not all joy and light, but I am also filled with darkness, pain and wells of emotion that I cannot always express.  This is who I am and I want people to understand that there is more to me than what they simply see on the surface.

I’m not going to be that sweet girl they see all the time and there are times when my broken side will reveal itself, because sometimes the mask falls off or it becomes so constrictive that I need to remove it.  All of this is what makes me the real Shaniqua.