I’ve been thinking a lot about upbringing. I’m talking about the type children receive from those who brought them up. I don’t know what type of upbringing a lot of you had (and I am aware some didn’t even have any at all, lol). But there is one in particular I am concerned about and that is what I have affectionately termed the SU upbringing. I’ll explain that in a moment. This was the type I received from my parents and a lot of my friends and cousins also received this.
The SU upbringing is the strict Christian upbringing insisted upon by parents who have had their Christian training from the Scripture Union. The Scripture Union is a puritanical brand of Christianity that came into Nigeria decades ago. A lot of our parents were faithful advocates of this brand of Christianity. This was so puritanical that so many things were considered ‘sins’:
fixing of weave-on and braids (straight from the bottom of the Ocean!)
You get the general idea.
For most of us who grew up with these surrounding strictures, the first thing we did when we got to the University was attempt to shrug off the rules. It was pretty easy to point out a child who had been brought up by an SU parent… they wore makeup (the wrong shade or too much); the boys wore jeans (which had probably been outdated ages ago!). Even when they managed to get it right; this season’s fashion and colours…something just wasn’t right about the whole ensemble. They looked… off.
It took me a while to discover what was wrong and even a while longer to fix it. I was already in my 2nd year at University(Sophomore) when I realised that the only way to break out of the mould was to fit into it first. Am I making sense….? Instead of trying to be a square peg in a round hole, what I did was accept my upbringing. I stopped trying to fight those strictures, I began to revel in the fact that I was given a rare heritage. I first and foremost ACCEPTED MYSELF.
Then when I finally got comfortable in the mould, I began to gently push at the edges….I didn’t go all out and break the boundaries, I just stretched them and readjusted them to fit with my conception of self. I still wore my long long skirts, but then I’d combine it with a really tight, low necked top (hey, I was discovering!). I wore my jeans really tight if I wanted to and did not feel odd if I decided to wear a long and billowing gown. I stopped trying to be what I was not and accepted and even cherished what I was. Of course I was labelled odd in school, but that for me, was vastly preferable to being labelled a wannabe (ugh!).
I think this works with a lot of other types of upbringings. Most children, after they grow up, get a little dissatisfied with the Dos and Don’ts their parents insisted on. So they tend to go all out and break every single one of the rules. However, they just end up being sad wannabes. There’s nothing like being your own person, accepting who you are and loving why you are.
There’s only one you and that you is unique. But you need to find that you and let him or her out. As our pentecostal Pastors would say, Break Forth!!!!!!