Some Things Don’t Translate.

Once upon a time, I used to fall silent because I felt like no-one was listening. I thought that if I could just make them pay attention, they’d finally see my point of view, and, without a doubt, understand everything I told them, down to the smallest detail. During this period, my silence was still optimistic, and the barrier to utopia was made of flimsy cardboard. After a few good shoves, I could bear witness to its glorious demise.

These days, I fall silent because I feel like everyone is listening. They listen like there’s nothing in the world they’d rather be doing, and as though they’d hate nothing more than to respond where I can hear it.

They listen like eavesdroppers perched by slightly-cracked-open doors, and all they hear is all they want. The rest, they dismiss from discourse like they fear how unfiltered truth might taint the texture of gossip.

By my speech, they readjust the benchmarks of their aspirations. My words let them know exactly what they must now resolve to surpass.

These days, I am silent because I suspect my suffering satisfies people more than it should. Thank God there is still something wrong with her that nobody seems able to fix.

Once upon a time, I believed words could work like magic spells. The right ones could cause a ripple in the world’s fabric, fixing the desperately broken. According to my recalibrated beliefs, my words only call attention to the unfixable, those things that people would rather not be reminded exist; the commonest ailments, experienced so often that I look like a disrespectful egoist for insinuating that I, in particular, absolutely need to find a cure.

He who once listened and heard has now constructed a concrete divider between us, refusing to move it even while I yelled myself hoarse. I, in turn, quickly grew tired of having my only company be the miserable echo of my own voice.

There is no reason I should continue to speak in a language it seems only I have the dictionary for. It is inconsequential, how many of my words others recognize, when the meaning of every full sentence is always, invariably, lost on them.

It is wonderfully ironic, I think, when a person whose whole world is words deliberately forgets how to use their voice.

-Akotowaa

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Beloved, Beware of Emotional Manipulators.

For about five years now, I’ve experienced a series of unrelated incidents that my brain only this year connected to each other because they shared a couple of common traits: firstly, they were always between myself and male human beings; secondly, they all involved emotional manipulation. Reflecting on these incidents, I’ve had to ask, “How much of the blame I placed on myself was actually deserved?” The answer usually turns out to be: “Much less than I let myself believe at the time.”

One reason I’m writing this is because I’m so tired of being the target of emotional manipulation. Another is that, since emotional manipulation tends to be super insidious and often (almost surprisingly) unintentional on the part of the manipulator, identifying some clear manipulation techniques is useful for developing strategies to resist it real-time instead of just regretting moments in hindsight. I figured that writing this might help victims, potential victims and people who might not even know they’re perpetrators to start developing an awareness.

One of the earliest telling signs that a person is prone to manipulating may be observed through how they receive you into their lives. I recently met someone in person for the first time, and at some point, I found him looking at me strangely. When I asked about the gaze, he told me that he was trying to decide if I could be one of “his people.” This made me uncomfortable, but I couldn’t yet say why, because I didn’t quite know what exactly about it was unsettling. (I do now.) My wariness became justified not too long after that meeting, when he (probably unconsciously) displayed emotionally manipulative behavior. When I was sixteen, I was introduced to a man who was so excited about my existence that he started going on, to me and other friends, about how he’d found his future wife. My sixteen-year-old brain thought it was amusing, I guess. What it actually was, was problematic. Because if a person meets you and immediately starts talking about what you could do for them or be to them, it usually means they are not seeing you as you are. They are overly focused on the person they either want you to be, wish you were, or what void in their lives you might fill. These kinds of statements might not strike you as dangerous when you first hear them, but they play out in ways such that when you turn out not to be their “ideal person,” manipulators may start resenting you for not living up to what they thought you should be (to them). The tragedy is that if you don’t quickly recognize that the standards of “ideal person” they constructed in their minds were never meant for you to aspire towards in the first place, you might start internalizing the insult and blame manipulators try to place on you for falling short of them. Really, they have no right to be angry at you and every right to be angry with themselves for the false image of you they constructed in their minds—which is, of course, not your business.

A more obviously telling sign of manipulators is when they try to tell you what/who you are. This is just as dangerous a red flag on the day of meeting as it can be two years into a relationship. In a similar way to the aforementioned sign, it’s a method of imposing their own (often inaccurate) perception of you onto the person you truly are, under the guise of “knowing you better than you know yourself.” Even if they just met you. Anyone who would rather tell you than ask you about yourself, and then, when you attempt correction, say something as silly as, “You really are [insert characteristic here], you just don’t realize it” or, “You’re just using the wrong words to describe yourself, but we’re saying the same thing” should put you on your guard. Recently, there’s been a New Yorker comic-turned-almost-meme floating around on social media showing an annoyed woman tolerating an enthusiastic man, and the caption is “Let me interrupt your expertise with my confidence.” And truly, there are people whose confidence will blatantly disregard the fact that they’ve known you for ten minutes whereas you’ve been yourself your whole life.

The two paragraphs above cover warning signs of manipulators, and now I’m going to delve into a few features of manipulative interaction itself.

It shouldn’t be surprising that an emotionally manipulative interaction may be saturated with compliments. Compliments are tools of power and are used to enforce unequal dynamics almost as often as they are used in genuine, heartfelt ways. Their power lies in how pleasurable they are to receive; we may fall into the trap of becoming so grateful and softened by those who are manipulating us that we acquiesce enough to either give them what they want, believe whatever falsities they say, or accept a hundred percent of undeserved blame. Recently, a man who had been displaying aggressive, patriarchal and suppressive behavior towards me became ruffled by the fact that I wasn’t just sitting down and taking it, that the attempts to suppress me weren’t working. But it really did throw me off when he addressed my resistant behavior like this: “Last year, you were so intelligent, so bright.” Compliments in the past tense, no less. I knew exactly how this tactic was supposed to work: I was supposed to be thrown into introspective anxiety about how my intelligence may have somehow dissipated over the past few months instead of how my confidence to challenge oppressive horse-crap had grown. I was supposed to regard my legitimate reactions to things that merited getting upset as my “brightness”—whatever that is—having dimmed. Generally, I was supposed to feel awful for refusing to let nonsense go by unchallenged. (Like my morda.) Recently, also, a man went off on me about a matter that I didn’t think he had adequately processed yet. Since I knew from experience that telling men they haven’t finished processing something doesn’t go down well, I did the sensible thing, which was acknowledging that even though I hadn’t done anything objectively wrong, what I had done had hurt him emotionally. So, of course, I apologized. Basic, pacifist decency. He still hadn’t finished processing by this time, but his immediate response was to declare how impressed he was with my maturity for having apologized. I shouldn’t have to explain why his “compliment” annoyed me so much that the safest thing I could do about it, given that setting the email thread on fire wasn’t a feasible option, was to ignore it. I want to briefly re-hash that a lot of manipulation is not intentional/conscious—but it’s still useful to know what not to engage. Like these “compliments.”

Another tactic used within manipulative interaction is exceptionalism. (Note: I will now use the verb “exceptionalize,” which, apparently, does not officially exist, but such irrelevant facts cannot deter a lexivist.) The way this tactic works is that by exceptionalizing you, a manipulator makes you believe you’ve done something exceptionally awful, either because of who you are specifically, or who you are in relation to them. In the same incident I mentioned in the previous paragraph of a matter not having been processed well, the man said something like this to me: “If anybody else had said this, I wouldn’t care, but because it’s you…” When I read that, I clocked out. There’s an ad hominem fallacy in the argument, which is not to say that it’s an invalid reason to get emotionally hurt—but if you’re hurt more because of the person something came from than the actual thing that came from them, it’s not the person’s problem. Think about it. If a person presented something badly, that’s something they can address; if a person has been wrong in an argument, it’s something correction or learning can fix. But if nothing about a person is as problematic for you as who they are (or who they are to you, or who you’d have liked to assume they are to you), well, they can’t very well decide to not be themselves, now, can they? Related: if something I’m used to giving isn’t something you’re used to receiving, it doesn’t quite mean I’ve done something awful; it might mean that we don’t understand or haven’t had a chance to get used to each other yet—in which case you’re being manipulative for trying to make me feel awful for simply not being the person you wished I was before you found out who I am. See previous paragraph about people who try to tell you instead of allowing themselves to discover who you are. Exceptionalism is designed to generate undeserved shame and guilt. Each time someone appears to be exceptionalizing you, even if it’s inappropriate to ask the person in the moment, try to ask yourself, “Okay, but have I actually done something wrong or not?”

During interaction, a manipulative person may try very hard to victimize themselves. Sometimes, that’s fine, because they really are victims in a sense. It’s only not fine when you’re being painted as the perpetrator when you aren’t. Some people, you see, have issues—issues they had before you even walked into their lives. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. Your relatively new presence might lead them to (un)consciously peg you as a scapegoat, someone to blame when none of the responsible people are currently available or had already left their lives before you came into it. But truth be told, some people too are just plain old trippin’. One time, a man made several aggravating moves on me over several weeks, and one day he finally did something that had me hitting my threshold. Once again, since setting something on fire wasn’t a viable option, I chose instead to walk out of the room until I felt stable enough to return. A week later, this man who had been aggravating me (very intentionally and strategically, I might add) confronted me about the walk-out moment, feigning innocence and telling me something like this: “I lost sleep the whole week, just remembering your reaction. I felt so hurt by it.” I didn’t respond, because it was not worth responding to. Why would a person who owes me an apology for lowkey-highkey abusive behavior be expecting either apology or explanation from me? Sense biara nni mu.

The last tactic of manipulative interaction I’ll stress on is insistence—specifically, insistence on provoking an emotional reaction out of you. The only way I can explain this is by hypothesizing that emotional manipulators derive temporary satisfaction from being shown evidence that their manipulation is working. Insistence takes many forms, but it’s kind of like this. Manipulator: “What you did was hurtful.” You say nothing. Manipulator: “Like, really hurtful.” You’re still saying nothing. Manipulator: “Nobody has hurt me so badly in years.” Lots more nothing from you. “Like, it sent me into deep depression for three days.” And so on and so forth. Dissatisfaction breeds frustration, which sparks continued attempts. It’s stressful to endure, but I’d still rather not give into it.

I’ll conclude by mentioning that there are people who may be open to being informed that they’re manipulative. However, especially considering how powerful the male ego is, bringing this up may spark a violent reaction. Others too might accept it only eventually, since heightened self-awareness comes in its own time. That said, it doesn’t have to be your burden to “fix” people. It doesn’t have to be your burden to engage in fruitless endeavors. In fact, and especially if it’s the healthiest option for you/the relationship, it’s fine to disengage. Bottom line? Please be safe, and please have sense.

-Akotowaa

Life Over Everything

I did not choose to be alive. Nobody did, I guess. Yet, once here, whether we realize it or not, leaving is always an option. As we may know, not everyone chooses to stay.

I have lived inside my mind long enough to know when my desires did not arise from my own heart. That is why, a few weeks ago, when I suddenly realized that I was happily anticipating my future in this world—a thing I hadn’t experienced for maybe three years—I was both stunned and terrified. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt like a miracle. That night, I worshipped, but I am not quite sure that I rejoiced.

This was a super-natural phenomenon because life had been chosen for me, and I was apprehensive because I already knew what that meant. For one thing, the desire to stay alive was not for my own glory or comfort, but for the glory of the one who placed it within me. I’m not blameless here; at least at one point, I’d gotten fed up enough to say, “Lord, I’m tired of everything. Please do something about it.” But this wasn’t quite the type of “something” I’d been looking forward to. I wanted comfort. This, however, is the farthest thing from comfortable I can imagine.

Picture a person with acute acrophobia, whose feet suddenly acquire a compulsion to climb all the steps they can find, until the person lands on the balcony of the highest floor of a sky-scraper. For this person, the journey is infinitely more excruciating than it would be for someone who merely likes to climb things. With acrophobia, think of the vertigo, the danger-zone heartbeat, the sweat breakout, the loss of sanity, the pure torture. Climbing to the top of a skyscraper with acrophobia is what it feels like to be saddled with a desire to live, even though staying alive really is the last thing in the world you want to do. The paradox is how you know that something apart from you is working within you—but anyone who tells you that transformative intervention produces purely pleasure is a liar.

 

Lately, I live with a mantra that declares, “Life Over Everything.” Though I myself did not choose life, I suddenly have a burning desire to remind everyone else how important it is to prioritize it over everything else, whatever this means for them individually. I have come to realize how incredibly counter-cultural such a reorganization of priorities is; when everything I am being forced to deal with seems to have been designed specifically to kill me, choosing life has turned out to be nearly the most destructive possible action to take—because sometimes, it means not choosing (to do) anything else.

I recently learnt the contextual connotations of the word “meaningless” that appears so frequently in the book of Ecclesiastes. It means, “like vapor.” Vapor exists, it has functions, it is born out of something and is useful for something else—but it is temporal, dissipative, not as substantial as it would like us to believe of it. The word meaningless there is not quite synonymous with “useless” or even “without meaning,” but even interpreting things as vapor-like ought to make you think twice.

Human life is far too precious to snuff itself out for the sake of vapor. And yet, the vapor of the world is so powerfully persuasive.

When the process of killing yourself over vapor makes you so fed up that you literally want to kill yourself so that you no longer have to deal with vaporous things, choosing life over “everything” may mean that everything about life other than life itself will fall apart. You probably have to ask yourself, “Would it be worthwhile to have everything fall apart if it means that I will not? Am I more valuable than vapor?”

And who will reap the benefits of all the vapor you are self-destructing for, if, halfway through sowing it, your heart permanently stops beating?

-Akotowaa

The Hero I Am Not

There are parts of being in love that are far from romantic. Like your lover dealing with hurt so deep it pierces your own chest. Understanding is never enough; intellect and sympathy are nearly powerless against pain. So you walk the line between desperation and helplessness, wishing more than anything that you could make problems disappear with the wave of a wand.
Often, the best I can offer is a mere “I love you,” but that sentence is like a flashlight in the face of the sun.
I am an ocean overflowing with love, and yet your remedy may be lying exclusively within fresh waters.
You have never asked me if the thing that consumes me is a desire to see you healed at all cost, or if I am merely intoxicated with the idea of being your only antidote. As for me, I play hide-and-seek with the question, not quite sure I am ready to reckon with the hero I am not, and hoping you forgive me once again for my narcissism in making this thing about me.
-Akotowaa

Okay, so Ghana, Imma need a “The Justice” series, like, ASAP

What the title said.

The Justice is a novel by Ghanaian author, Boakyewaa Glover. It’s marketed as a “political thriller” as indicated on the cover, but I’d probably call it a political romantic suspense-drama. But that’s a lot, so let’s just go with what the cover says, LOL.

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For me, it was one of those books that looked intimidatingly large at first, made me think it might be boring and difficult to trudge through, but ended up being an exhilarating read that made me feel like I was effortlessly drinking up the words. It was a wild ride. I remember excitedly ranting to my best friend about it nearly from beginning to end.

Most events occur around the attempts of a man called Joseph Annan (also known as “The Justice”) to rise to the position of presidency in Ghana. The Justice, however, isn’t quite the main character. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to narrow “main character” down to a single person. I feel like s/he changes throughout the different sections of the book.

When I first started reading it, I thought it would make a great Ghanaian movie. It worked perfectly. The premise—a man trying to become president while his daughter does scandalous things, his wife is ill and unstable, and the opposition is being, well, oppositional—was such a good one, and Glover set the stage up excellently. Besides, the way we like politics in our Ghana dier, I could already see this movie’s publicity taking off if handled well.

But then as I continued reading, the number of plot twists grew wildly, the twists themselves were increasingly mind-blowing, and the stakes kept rising relentlessly. It reached a point where immediately starting another chapter after I’d finished one began to feel exactly like binge-watching a suspenseful Netflix show, just skipping credits and moving on to the next episode. The end of each chapter had me so impatient to find out what would happen in the next one, and I could so clearly see this becoming an excellent TV show!

I’ve thought about a The Justice TV show almost every day since I finished the book. The novel itself is so underrated and underpublicized! I wouldn’t have known it existed if it hadn’t been lent to me by a friend (shout-out to TrueCoaster!), yet it’s easily one of the littest Ghanaian books I have ever read.

I have only two particularly critical things to say about it: firstly, that final plot twist just seemed a bit over the top. Everything else could fly—but that final one just had me going, “Wei dier, wo boa.” The other thing is about the characters’ speech. Every character spoke in standard English, no matter their background, the social context, their names, whatever. This is probably not something I’d have complained about if I’d read this book a few years ago, before I started being really conscious about such things. I, too, have written many things where the words coming out of characters’ mouths could just as easily have come out of the mouths of generic wyt characters. Basically, the characters’ speech didn’t have enough character. No pidgin, Twinglish, Ewe, etc., so that’s one thing I’ll advocate for the screenwriter of The Justice TV show (yes, I’m speaking about it like I already know it’s going to happen) to take into account when adapting the novel.

I have so much hope in this series, faith in its potential to be a smash hit and revival of Ghanaian television. No series has made sense to me since Home Sweet Home, to be very honest. And, if done right, I can’t see why The Justice won’t work. If we adapt this novel, we shouldn’t have much to worry about, with regards to the story being wack, because it’s already not. If someone has the resources to make something as visually stunning as An African City, I don’t see why The Justice can’t be just as good quality-wise. Maybe acting and accents could be problematic, but again, I’ll say, if the scripts are written correctly, dialogues should sound so natural and colloquially Ghanaian that it would make it at least extremely difficult, if not impossible, for actors to deliver them unnaturally. Also, if Ghanaians are consistently hooked on suspenseful dramas, from Game of Thrones to Stranger Things to How to Get Away with Murder etc., I honestly can’t see why The Justice should fail to appeal to the same audience. What I’m saying is: This series go beeeee!

I beg, a human being who has loads of money should get in contact with Boakyewaa Glover as soon as possible, find a sensible screenwriter and set this process in motion, please and thank you. (I really beg.)

Just in case you’re thinking of volunteering me as screenwriter, let me just make it clear that I don’t have the faintest clue how to screen-write. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. But the very faintest is the best I’ve got. Which is not to say that if you offer me tons of money, I’ll refuse to learn, don’t get it twisted.)

Also, read the book, because, you know, it’s lit!

Akotz the Spider Kid

 

An academic dilemma I had for, like, two seconds

The conclusion I arrive at may seem obvious to you when you read it. Or, depending on who you are, it might seem crazy unrealistic. In response to the former, I will say that I still think that the thought process by which I arrived at the conclusion, is worthy of documentation. In response to the latter: I think you ought to fight with somebody who isn’t trying to make a career out of imagination, and who doesn’t believe that imagination is the foundation of the future.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a series of thoughts that turned into something of a short-lived crisis. The crisis had two triggering moments. Firstly, I got into a heated argument about education in my African history class, and I remember vehemently reiterating that I would rather not have felt like I had to come all the way to This Country for college, just to get what I wanted out of higher education. Secondly, there was a discussion in my Africana Research Methods class, where students were asked what percentage of a black population would constitute, for them an ideal demographic at our PWI college community. (And yes, I know that the question is inherently paradoxical. I didn’t come up with it, so don’t ask me why we were discussing it.) These events, I think, occurred on the same day, and my reflections upon them landed me, quite suddenly, at the conclusion that I am a fraud.

First, I will walk you through how I got to recognize my fraudulence, and then, how I disabused myself of it very quickly.

I am in my second year of college, as an Africana Studies major with a disciplinary focus in history. And, as much as I can help it, I am fulfilling all my history requirements with continentally African history courses. (Context: because of that extra “a” at the end of Africana, my history requirements could alternatively be fulfilled with African-American, Caribbean, or any kind of Black history. But I’m intentionally choosing continentally African.) Now, when I first took an African history course in my first semester of college, I experienced, throughout the span of the course, a vast range of strong emotions. Much of it was excitement, intrigue and enthusiasm. Some of it, however, was irritation. Not at the content itself (that was to come later, in the history class I’m currently taking. Lord, I could rant about this one all day), but at the fact that I was now learning the most I had ever learnt in detail about my home continent, after I had left it.

But there was another texture of emotions. I could describe them at best approximately as relief and gratitude. This was all for the fact that I was being taught history by an African man. By a 100% Bibini, West African man. I realized then that I would always, always want African history to be taught pretty much strictly by continental Africans, no matter where they are offered.

Two semesters later, when this professor went on leave, it finally hit me that he was, in fact, the only 100% Bibini African professor in the entire college consortium, bonus points for having been born on the continent and lived there his entire childhood. (The adulthood spent in France is where things start going wrong, but this story is for another day.)

While he was on leave, the class he offered, the one that had been a major factor in changing my whole college trajectory, was not offered, because he was the only one who could teach it, and he wasn’t there. None of the freshmen, therefore, had the opportunity to take any African history courses that semester, and it’s worth noting that their class contained the largest ever number of continental African admitted students. Issa tragedy. (By the way, this course had been taught before the professor’s arrival, thankfully by Black folks, just not by a continental Africans.) This is where I started asking myself why there was only one 100% Bibini continental African professor in the entire consortium. And I truly believed it would be the coolest thing if there were more. I can’t believe I believed that. What a fraud!

I think it was exactly during the aforementioned conversation of “what would your ideal Black demographic look like?” that I deeped the extent of my fraudulence. I’m fairly certain other people in the class started calculating how many more African-Americans they wanted to see, but that’s not how my mind immediately interprets “Black”. Of course, I was thinking of people like myself, continental Africans, faculty and students alike. In the middle of my calculations, I thought to myself, “And why in heaven’s name, Akotz, are you so happily speculating upon increasing the continental African demographic in, of all places, This Country? You dey craze? You that you’re annoyed that a person like you has had to travel all the way here to study African history, you want to give people like yourself more reason to have to leave the continent? W’abɔdam? SMH. Fraud.”

Allow me to clarify the conflicting sides of the dilemma: on one hand, I wanted more African content accessible to African kids and made available to them at the very least by African faculty; on the other hand, I did not want any more brain drain of my beloved content. I mean, we’ve had way more than enough brain drain since centuries before 1833 – and we’re in twenty-freakin’-eighteen!

(Just because I know by experience how people’s brains work on this internet distin, let me just say this: only a fool would think I just implied that there are no – or even few – smart Africans left on the continent, either in or out of school. If you think this is what I’m saying, your thinking is wack, and I invite you to critically examine it before you start insulting me in your group chats and DMs, na m’abrɛ mo.)

But, at the same time, you can see that this is not a dilemma at all.

I started thinking about the surprisingly large list of people I know (note that most people I know are continental Africans) who have intentions of entering academia. I thought to myself, “In which country are you planning to obtain this PhD? And in which country will you get employed to use it?”

The reason my dilemma lasted only “two seconds” was that I nearly instantly knew what my ideal was: I want the absolute and best places, efficient, informative, affordable systems for African education, to be on the continent. I want a world where it is absolutely uncontestable that for anyone of any ethnicity whatsoever, the most sensible place to engage Africa, academically or otherwise, is on the continent. (The best place to engage African diaspora history, in my ideal, should be necessarily equivalent in all the places folks of African descent are situated. So like, if you want to study Caribbean history, you ought to know that if you’re not on a Caribbean island, you’re not getting the best version of what you could have had.) I’m very much over my Afro-Francophone beloveds consistently flying over to That Country for education, and my Afro-Anglophone babes trooping to This One and the Other One.

And even more than those dreams, I want a world where it is common knowledge that the best places for Africans to be educated – formally or informally, within or without academia, in any and all disciplines – is on the continent. So much so that Africans will use the same energy that they currently use to talk about black kids getting into Harvard, use the very same energy in future to question what exactly people need Harvard for, when what’s on the continent is several, several times better.

So yeah. My answer to the “What’s the ideal black demographic in this college community?” question, for me, is deadass zero.

That is all. (For now.) Spider Kid out!

(By the way, have you read If I Could Kill My Feelings? The school Mario and Violet went to, the Kuukua Annan Institute, was un/consciously born from these ideas. ((In the background of my mind, a voice yells, “MIT? Never been diagnosed with that disease.”)) And if you’ve read some On the Ceiling stories, you might guess why a mechanics & technology school would be named after Kuukua Annan.)

-Akotowaa

I must save my apologies for when I am repentant.

Awakening is a journey that has taught me to interrogate my conscience, and why I feel inclined to apologize for everything I am and anything I feel.

Sometimes, I carry myself like a black hole whose center resides where my heart should be, and my darkness stretches like shadows across the room. I speak to people who recoil at being addressed in a voice infused with power, by a woman without even the courtesy to fake a smile.

Once, my lips would have softened from guilt for their sake, and I would have burnt as much fuel as it took to generate yet another pleasant mask for their comfort. These days, instead, my eyes glow like burning coals and lock on theirs in a challenge that translates to “Try me.” I imagine they are grateful for my frames, like these are the only things stopping the rocks from leaping out to sear them.

I am slowly learning how to feel fully clothed when I am not wearing apology as a second skin, to continue being many things the world has told me I am not allowed to be.

There are matters I have ceased to question. Like how neither of us really requires an explanation for my anger, or my joy, or my emotions being in a state of transition where nothing I feel can be accurately defined. Like my freedom to be vocal, or silent, and silent about my choice to be silent; to roll up the window between myself and the rest of the world’s sense of entitlement to having an answer for every “why”. Like how none of these things are causes to be sorry.

I am learning that I must save my apologies for when I am repentant.

-Akotowaa