*Before, I get into this post; I want to thank everyone for your birthday wishes. I want to go through and thank everyone personally so please bear with me. Now, for the post...
Growing up, I always felt out of place. I was not born in the United States so moving to New York in the United States of America at the age of six was an... interesting change. (I was born in Nigeria.) Of course, I had an accent. This made it difficult for me to talk to other children. However, I was an outgoing child so I would continue to try my hardest to make friends. However, I did not make any friends in that state. Lucky for me, I had a number of cousins and other family members in New York so I never really needed to make outside friends.
Oddly, my family did not stay in New York long. After a year of living in the big apple, my family and I took a bus to Powder Springs, GA. That was my first experience with true bullying. As new immigrants, my family wasn't well off. The other children did not like me because I spoke with an odd dialect, wore old thrifty clothes, and frankly just did not fit in. At the time, I began drawing more. Even as I child, I would draw in sand, but I truly began drawing "seriously" during the lonely period I spent in Powder Springs.
Thankfully, my father found a management job in Augusta, GA. We left Powder Springs after only half a year. Augusta, GA was difficult at first. I had a speech impediment caused by having to hear so many different accents of English growing up so I was placed in the ESL (English as a second language) class. This was also the first time I started noticing race. Augusta was a mostly Caucasian town. A number of times, I would be the only black kid in my classes. At that age (elementary) it didn't really bother me. Nevertheless, looking back, I loved it in Augusta.
This was also when I started to fall in love with cartoons and anime. Sailor Moon, Card Capturer, Digimon, Pokemon, Grim Adventures, Ed' Edd'n Eddy, Proud Family, Beyblade, etc. were some of my favorite shows growing up. I would record them and draw all the characters and bring the drawings to class to show all my friends. At that time, I truly felt as though I was a part of something. I felt accepted.
This did not last for long, because after I turned 11, my father and mother decided that our family would move to a small suburb town outside of Atlanta, GA. I was miserable after the move. I hated the town. It was surprising to me how depressed I was since my new middle school was predominately black. However, I soon realized that being an African immigrant and being American black were two completely different things. I had been disappointed to find that I was not welcomed in a school with people who all looked just like me. Everyday, I was bullied by other children. I remember days spent crying in the school bathroom during that first year. But as we all know, misery breeds creativity. I started drawing an insane amount of art. I even started writing a comic called Dear Diary.
I carried Dear Diary in a binder and would add pages as I went along. I drew pages whenever I had a free minute. The main character was an extension of myself. I made her everything I was not: beautiful, confident, and strong. Thankfully, my misery did not last for long. I eventually entered the 7th grade. This allowed me to enter sports. I joined both the basketball and track teams. I was all right in basketball, but I was great in track. I finally was able to make friends. Horrible pink coke-bottle glasses and disgusting acne be damned. I was so happy!
For high school, I entered a magnet high school for the arts. If anyone knows anything about art classes, you know that THEY HATE ANIME. I was told to stop drawing cartoons and anime, which I loved and made to adopt a more realistic style. As high school went along, I drew less and less. I stopped enjoying art. It became more of a chore. It also didn’t help that I had a art teacher (whose sickness was causing her to having bad judgment) who would steal my paintings and talk bad about me to others. (She was eventually let go.) I started focusing on my social life, sports, and boyfriends. I also stopped using my devaintart during that time.
After four years of high school, I entered a private research university. The first semester was difficult, and I quickly fell into a depression. I had friends but I never felt as if I fit in. I always felt like an outsider. I would sit in my room and just cry everyday. Luckily, I was given an advisor who was the head of the visual arts department. After the end of the semester meeting, she encouraged me to sign up for the intro to drawing and painting class for the spring semester. I agreed only to appease her.
Second semester came around. I will never forget the Wednesday of the first week of the spring semester. After 3 hours of life drawing, I left the visual arts building feel surprisingly happy. I had no idea why I was in such high spirits. Even my roommate noticed the change in my behavior. Before I knew what happened, my depression passed and I was back to my outgoing personality. At the time, I didn't realize that it was because I was drawing again. But after my freshman year ended, I was back home. However, I began feeling sad all over again. I had no idea what was happening.
Then, one day, I was going through my old works and remembered my deviant art account. I thought, "I wonder what other artists are up to." So after 4 years of not using my account, I logged back on and began posting again. My return was a bit... odd. I did not know how to properly integrate my new skills with the stylized artwork that deviant artists were known for... So I drew some pretty weird stuff. Even so, there were people who still encouraged my growth and help me out. It truly surprised me how much people were willing to help others on the site. I never feel as though I am alone. I never feel as though I don't belong. I wholeheartedly feel as though I am a member of the deviant art family. I hope to continue to grow with all of you. Thank you for being such amazing supporters. You are all amazing people; so if you are ever feeling down, know that that you will get past it. I know some of us give DA crap all the time, but this community is one of the most inclusive, forgiving, and understanding groups of people I have ever met. There are always people out there willing to be there for you. I love you all.
Thank you for everything.Waywardgal