Touching On: Being A 2nd Generation Immigrant.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted my contribution to the UK's Black History Month to be about. I considered talking about black women in architecture but given my current situation, the thought of constantly having to think about anything remotely architecture related feels a little draining so I'm actively trying to avoid it. I also considered maybe putting together a post on some brilliant black UK based content creators as it sometimes feels as if we don't exist, but Kristabel did an extraordinary job of doing so (complete with blurbs so do check it out!). So I ended up coming back to gather some loose paragraphs I have had floating around in old notebooks, in the drafts section of this blog and indeed memories from conversations I've had with friends who are, for the most part, second-generation immigrants. 


My parents came to The UK as young adults from Nigeria. Fresh-faced youths who left the fragrant warmth and the hustle and bustle of Lagos to study and pursue a better life. They studied, earned their respective degrees, found jobs, got married, moved houses, had me, moved houses again, had my sister and moved houses again to where we currently reside, a quiet leafy neighborhood in Zone 6 filled with a mixture of young professionals and retirees. My story begins in Cricklewood though, about 30 minutes drive from where we currently reside. I was born and raised in North West London to a Mr. and Mrs. Akinsanya, where I grew up, and went to school. At around eleven years old (i think), my Parents did the one thing most overseas based Nigerian parents do... They sent me to Lagos to continue my primary and secondary school education, living with my extended family in a bid for me to understand my culture better and to get a solid understanding of the two very different worlds in which I straddled as a British Born Nigerian. I enjoyed those three years, running around my grandmothers compound chasing agama lizards with an 'igbalé' and fighting with my cousins as to who got the sweetest plumpest mangoes from my grandmother's trees, but it wasn't all perfect. For one my eleven-year-old brain struggled to compartmentalize the other varied and rich languages that Nigeria holds, I never did end up understanding a single word of Igbo or Hausa and even pidgin took me a while to get a good grounding on. The gatemen would laugh at my accent calling me oyinbo pepper, to which I'd stick out my bottom lip and go hmmph! vowing to get my "I wan go" and "in say dat" 's perfect. I also struggled a lot academically because the education systems were very different and it was very clear that I was falling behind my peers drastically. After absolutely bombing a set of  JS2 exams and crying to my parents that I wanted out, I was on a plane back to the UK. When I came back I was obsessed with assimilating smoothly back into British Culture. I picked up in London at year 8. I was an awkward gangly teenager, my chest as flat as a pancake, legs, and arms like broken twigs and to make things worse for me, I now had a strange accent not quite 'fresh', but audibly seasoned with the new words and pronunciations I learned in Lagos. I might as well have had a target on my head that said "BULLY ME PLEASE", and indeed I did become a target, strangely enough for the British Born Nigerians and the Caribbeans at my school. They laughed at how long my skirt was, my newfound accent, how uncool I was, how ironing board my chest and butt were and how very... African I seemed. I ended up falling into place with the misfits: the art and drama students and they warmly took me in, but it did strike a chord with me how very separate African blackness was in the UK for me as a teenager. There was a hard line drawn between 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, and if you didn't assimilate and lose that accent you faced unjust prejudice and sometimes became the butt of some very inappropriate jokes...


In July of this year, I went to my local print shop to get some previous professional projects printed and bound for a job interview I'd be having the next day. The owner of the shop, a kindly faced Igbo man I know from our local church. As he's printing my work, he looks at me, smiles and says "Ah! You children! None of you want to go back home and make it a better place, why is that?", I laugh and reply "Uncle, but I was born here, what will I go and do back home when I'm so used to being here?", he nods solemnly and says, "I understand, that's the problem with raising you children here, you never want to go back home afterward". I gather my things, pull out my wallet and attempt to pay for my goods, but he swats me away telling me that me getting a job is all the payment he would want (reader I did not get the job, but I digress...). I thank him, curtsey, and leave with the thoughts of 'back home' swirling around my head. On the chilly walk home I sip my coffee, lick the foam from my dry lips and exhale with a mixture of confusion, indignation and what if's. "Maybe I should move to Nigeria," I think two weeks later when a flurry of job rejections come through, "Maybe it'll be easier".

Where is home for me? I'm still not quite sure. As someone who is black, British born and with Nigerian heritage, I have always felt in-between, and as I've grown older I've become more perceptive of the -ism's that quietly follow me like an insidious shadow between both worlds. Racism and Sexism, one seen in the smooth curve of my hips and the other in the honeyed brown of my skin. From recruiters quietly asking me if I have an English name to use on my applications rather than the mouthful of Yoruba syllables forming Fo-lá-śa-dé that is simply too African for the corporate world,  to being told by my Nigerian brethren that I won't be a good wife because I act too British, refuse to be 'submissive' (rolls eyes till kingdom come) and I don't like being in the kitchen. ADAPTABILITY. It's something 1st, 1.5 and 2nd gen's have all learned quickly. The ability to almost flick between characters. "You sound so different on the phone to your parents" a friend mentioned once, and I noted the accent and intonation differences, my sentences pricked with a faint sing-song Yoruba - British mix as I bid my parents good night.

I talk with my cousin Emmy on an almost daily basis. We send each other meme's, talk about guys and lately... We ponder our futures. Like myself, she is also a second gen immigrant. A Chicago based force of Leo warmth, sarcasm and intense road rage wrapped up in a tall slender woman with skin the shade of black coffee. Like myself, she laments the difficulties she's also facing in regards to careers, dating and being in between in the US. She unlike myself has dipped her toes in Lagos' shores a lot more than I have, she has plans of going back to the motherland. To see what life may hold there, to see the differences between being a child there and being a professional adult there. This is something that I'm too scared to do. I dislike big changes and I know moving to Nigeria would be monumental. It would be entirely life-changing. Something I'm not sure I want..... Yet? 


And now we come to the future. This is something I think about on a daily basis, I wonder what I'm supposed to be doing. I wonder when adulthood will come to me the way it has graced my friends with careers, husbands, wives, children, mortgages... a future. For me, the future doesn't exist yet, and even when it does, what will I do? Where will I be in a few years? In The UK or Nigeria? If I ever meet a lifelong partner, where will we settle, here or there? What if my partner isn't Nigerian? What then? How will we raise our future children? I want them to understand, embrace and love my Yoruba culture but how can I do that when I can barely speak the language myself? How do I hold onto these traditions whilst morphing myself into someone else to fit into spaces that for the most part reject me? The constant tugging and letting go become maddening and some days everything feels alien.

This is where I'm supposed to conclude, but I realize I've only really scratched the surface with this one, and in my opinion, there are so many more interwoven issues surrounding being a first or second generation immigrant. I want to touch on the pressures in regards to education and careers, feeling like you have to 'make it', particularly in the corporate, STEM or medical fields, and the struggles of wanting to breakthrough in creative careers much to the dismay of immigrant parents wanting their children to be the first engineer or doctor in the family. There are so many feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The guilt you feel when you're not doing as well as your peers and the constant thoughts of how much your mama or papa has sacrificed for you to be here.

As second gen's our identity is complex as we grapple with various cultures and methods of assimilation. If like me you are the child of immigrants or you're an immigrant yourself do you often feel in between? Let's get a conversation going.



All That Glitters Is Not Gold...

60 Great Queen St, London

Silver is pretty cool too.

I am a Magpie by nature. I love beautiful, shiny, exquisite looking things. I clutch my metaphorical pearls when I come across anything remotely auroral appearing in my favourite stores, my eyes glimmer like two precious pieces of carnelian set in the purest of metals when I spy an aesthetic I admire, my laugh is like the tinkling of adornments clanging together when I find the bedazzled little black dress of dreams. My friends, I am that person. And whilst I hope and believe that I nurture a fairly healthy balance for a love of material goods and the more tangible everyday moments, there are times where I  blinded by gold. By gold, I don't just mean the precious metal, I mean other people's treasures. Going (kinda) full time on the blog means I spend a lot more time reading blogs, liking images on Instagram, watching endless videos on YouTube and pinning all the pins on Pinterest, and after a while, "Oh  etc's holiday to the south of France looks amazing" becomes "Oh.. I wish I could go to the south of France but I can't because of XYZ", and "Etc's wedding was so sweet, bless them!" becomes "Ffs will I ever find love?", you see where I'm going with this right? Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
together by Thomas sabo
I'd like to equate some of our comparison moments with 'fools gold' or Iron Pyrite. Iron Pyrite is a brassy yellow material that is often mistaken for pure gold, particularly during the gold rush of the 19th century. Men scurried across the midwestern states for a chance to make it big and well... strike Gold! Some succeeded and but many failed, what seemed perfect and lovely on the outside was not what it seemed, and in the rush for what they saw was gold they ended up doing themselves a major disservice. Whilst it is very natural to chase or want what others have because we perceive their lives to be more interesting or aspirational, I think the key lies in remembering your own treasure and nurturing that bounty. 
together by Thomas sabo
together by Thomas sabo
Now with a brief history lesson and story time over, I should probably get into the specifics of this ensemble right? Gold is considered to be the most precious metal on earth because of its rarity, but Silver is also a popular and sometimes more understated choice. For those of you like myself who flicker between subtle and more eye-catching pieces, Thomas Sabo are brilliant, they only use quality materials for their pieces which range from 925 sterling silver, 18k gold as well as rose gold plating and zirconia in their jewellery. Another thing I really appreciate is the vast array of styles, from minimalistic and simplistic shapes to the more bold and punchy charm club collections. For someone like me, jewellery was, and always is a big deal in my household, with my mother forever yelling at me to put bigger earrings on when I'm going out.  I've always been more of a silver kind of girl, all of my piercings, (four ears, one nostril, and one septum) are all adorned with sterling silver and my daily jewellery of choice is usually a simple silver ring or two and four plain silver studs in my ears to finish off my look, much like the jewellery worn in these images, which is all from Thomas Sabo. Simple beveled stackable rings, flashes of silver and black on my wrists from charm bracelets and friendship bracelets, and two shining engraved intertwined circles on my chest in the form of a silver necklace from the Together by Thomas Sabo collection. I love how they work as tiny details that one notices only on that second lingering look.
Don't always be fooled by the shiny things... Moral of the story? enjoy the delicacy and subtlety of your silver and when the time is right, enjoy the dizzying beauty of your gold. 

*This post was kindly sponsored by Thomas Sabo but as always, all words and imagery is mine. Photo assistance by the very sweet Zahra.

What I Wore...

DRESS - jarlo | SHOES - new look (similar) | LIPSTICK - colourpop cosmetics



This Week In Photos [2].

Self Portraits & Flowers 

I realise Thursday is a strange day for publishing a post like this, but I simply couldn't wait until Sunday and rules are made to be broken right? I'll be honest and say this is more so two and a half weeks worth of photos and writing rolled into one as life has been quiet recently. Like the tick tock-ing of an old clock, things have just been 'the usual'. I wake up, browse twitter and instagram whilst lamenting deleting the Facebook and Messenger apps off of my phone for 'productivity' reasons. I brush my teeth, shower and put on some cosy clothing, usually some leggings and a baggy jumper. I skip the bra part and let my now slightly downward turning boobs fall free (the joys of getting older eh), I check each boob for anything foreign and I have to thank Lauren and her battle with breast cancer for this addition to my routine (read her poignant post about it here) - also if you're reading this and you have boobs, please check them right this second! Ok after poking and prodding my chest, I go downstairs shrug my shoulders at my usual oats for breakfast and simply have a coffee with rice milk and a dash of honey for sweetness. Sometimes I'll throw a biscuit in my mouth and race back upstairs. I debate opening my laptop or procrastinating via Netflix - Who knew Drag Race was so addictive? I watch a few episodes falling a little bit more in love with Raja and then I look at the time. *siiiiiiiigggggggghhhhh* I crack my knuckles, make another coffee and with some reluctance open up both my blog e-mails and my architecture e-mails, there is a flurry of lovely things, kind feedback, the odd press release and invoice updates on the blog e-mail front. I switch over to the architecture e-mail side and I see linkedin promotions, newsletters and.... another rejection, although this time, it's different, it's detailed, it's kind and it's personalised, the director goes on to wish me luck with my future endeavours and invites me to connect on LinkedIn. This time rejection stings a little less and I'm grateful for his time and consideration. I continue with tap tap tapping away, applying for more roles, signing contracts and updating my calendars and looking for more freelance work to fill my time. 
There were good and less mundane things that happened though, for example I went to a flower arranging workshop by Bloom & Wild at The Artists Residence Hotel and it was THE BEST! I got play with arrangements and colours inspired by the great works of Henri Matisse and I also got to catch up with Kristabel, Brenda and Natasha and talk colour, walls and delicious brownies... Another lovely thing was a sweet gift from Sally who kindly sent over a wonderful tea set from Jing complete with some Bohea Lapsang, Lemongrass & Ginger and Earl Grey.
I have been obsessed with Jamie Beck's photography and indeed her dreamy life in Provence. Reading about her move from the big apple to a very quaint and quiet part of France has been nothing short of inspirational. I can't even begin to explain the joy I get from her photographic work and cinemagraphs, the detail is incredible, like the paintings of the old masters, she draws ones eyes in.. I was inspired by her self portraits and set up my camera one lazy dark afternoon to play around. I think I'll be doing this a lot more as I'm finding it a good way to practice 'face', and to improve my manual shooting skills.

Anyway, how has October been for you so far?  It feels like this year has zoomed by so quickly! I can't believe we're approaching November..



How To Be A Better Person.

Nobody will know you as well as you know yourself. You know your deepest most wildest desires, you know what makes you tick, you know what will bring a smile to your face. You also know what will irritate you and what will bring out the worst in you, you also know the darker parts of yourself that aren't so good. Now no one is perfect, and no one ever will be perfect because we're humans, and as humans we do good things and we can also do bad things, and people can and will unfortunately do bad things to us. During my late teens and early twenties, I was a ball of emotions. I was angry, sad, disappointed, disillusioned and I didn't know how to control those feelings so it was often the people closest to me that were pierced with the shrapnel from an explosion of harsh words and not so kind actions whenever things weren't 'okay'. I made a conscious effort to undo this type of behaviour and I think it's important to be able to self analyse and pin point areas of weakness or ways in which you'd like to grow positively. I've noted three key ways in which I've been trying to keep myself in check over the years and I thought the boss lady suit trend would be the perfect way to share this with you guys!

⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼ Take On Board Criticism. ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
If there's anything that Architecture school taught me, it was to take on board criticism whether I liked it or not, and by this I mean not going into defence mode if people tell you that your actions are hurtful or harmful. More often than not, people are  telling you because they care about you and your well being, as well as the types of vibes you're giving off. Listen and really make a point to understand their point of view, even if you don't agree it's highly respectful to at least listen to what others are saying (as long as it isn't extremely inappropriate that is). Analyse the criticism and ask why they feel that way, and ask advice on how you can begin to implement better practices. A good example of this is having Supal and Kristabel always giving me honest opinions on my blog posts, what works better than others, ways I'm doing well and places where I can do a little better, and I truly appreciate their honesty because they want the best for me and this little space on the web!

⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼ Think Of How It Will Make Others Feel. ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
I wrote a small thread on twitter this week lamenting our lack of empathy in the 21st century. A great way that I keep myself in check in regards to the things that come out of my mouth is to first think of how it might make others feel. Do I want to be *that* person? Someone who is forever critical and judging, someone who always puts their emotions first, someone who doesn't think of the bigger picture and the long term effects? No. I don't, so I remind myself constantly that words do indeed have power and this power should be used wisely. There's an old Yoruba saying that goes something along the lines of "You don't need to use the whole of your mouth to say things" and its a saying that keeps me in line on a daily basis.

 ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼ Be The Bigger Person. ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼
Living in London, I've had to really learn to reign it in because whooooo lawd will people try you! Instead of arguing with strangers on the tube, I've learnt that for my sanity and well being it's better to just walk about from minor altercations. Gotta shrug it off and take the high road sometimes because in the long run what will arguing with a stranger who pushes in front of you for the tube do? Absolutely nothing except get you more angry because the person in question will not give a single shit about you and your feelings and you'll just expend more unnecessary energy getting angry at them. Long story short? Shake it off and let it go. It's not worth it.

What ways do you keep yourself in check?

What I Wore...

BOSS LADY VIBES - myself | COAT , SHIRT, TROUSERS & LOAFERS all c/o boden | GLASSES - rayban | LIPSTICK - colourpop



3 Things I Learned After University.

Regent Street
My graduation photos sit grandly in my parents living room, my face awkwardly channeling Tyra Banks' infamous 'Smize' and my hands gripping the faux diploma with mild panic because if I remember correctly my earring was just about to fall off. I walk past this photo almost daily, and each day I look at it with a mixture of surprise, annoyance and mild exasperation. I finally did it. This won't be a post on my university experience because I still don't think I'd be able to properly write about it without being super biased given my current life situation, so that'll come... Soon. But in the meantime, the biggest life changes for me have come after the studying, after the celebrations, after the degrees.

⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼  1. How To Deal With The "What Are You Doing Now?" Question.  ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼

The most asked question I get online, meeting someone for coffee or even just from family and friends in passing is "So what are you doing now?", and it's a question I'm still not really sure how to answer. You see, I'm sort of just... getting on with things, "what things?" they ask. "Well... a bit of everything really" I reply cryptically, awkwardly shifting from foot to foot wishing the questions would end, but as soon as you don't give a definitive answer, oh ho! that's the very moment in which the questioner begins to fire off a series of job interview like questions in regards to your situation. People are naturally curious, that's just how we work and for the most part people aren't asking to be mean or nosy, but more so they genuinely want to know how you're doing, so now I'm less awkward when people ask and I try to gently unpack that my blog, Instagram and a handful of freelance jobs are my job at the moment.

⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼ 2. How To Be Patient. ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼

I am one of the most impatient people in the world. I like things to be efficient, quick and well done. I have no time for slow walking people in central London and I tap my fingers furiously if my food takes too long in the microwave. I've touched on this before, but whilst finishing off my degree show, I was adamant everything would have fallen into place by August latest. I had even pre-planned my 26th Birthday celebrations which were to be held in Paris. It's now October, and we're hurtling fast towards Christmas and guess what, none of what I had planned worked out. During this time I've forcibly learned the fine virtue of patience or run the risk of going batshit crazy. A watched pot never boils as the old saying goes...

⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼  3. How To Be Humble. ⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼⎼

For someone who had naively pre-planned the entirety of her life post university, the slap that reality dealt me upon finishing was unbelievable. I was like WOOOOOOOOW so this is how it's going to be?? With a good 95% of my year employed quickly after university, I genuinely did not think I'd be one of the very few struggling to find a job after I'd finished. The feeling was and in a way still is, very awful. I spent a lot of June, July and August crying, comparing myself to others and slating my own work. In that time I gradually began to realise a very hard truth, and that was that I wasn't in any way special. Now hear me out, this isn't me belittling myself, but rather opening my eyes to understand that I wasn't the only graduate in this situation, there are millions of us striving for a better life, for better jobs, for the career we've dreamed of and worked hard for, and that it's just a combination of luck, hard work and good timing that determines things. I understood that I just had to keep going and in the meantime adopt gratitude and happiness in all other things that were coming my way until my dream job came knocking.

So my friends, what valuable lessons has life taught you?

What I Wore...

DRESS c/o sugarhill boutique | BAG c/o coach | SHOES - zara 



This Week In Photos [1].

In addition to sharing snippets that don't quite fit on the curated Instagram grid over on my stories, this week I thought about documenting daily life this week through a series of more 'mundane' photos and it's been incredibly fun just taking out my camera and snapping away. There's something very liberating about taking photos for fun as opposed to the more serious moolah backed and contact signed photos that come with brand collaborations. A healthy balance of both is best I suppose as a gal's gotta eat, but a gal's also gotta have fun! 
I consider Sunday the *real* beginning of the week for me. Sunday's are slow for us, filled with coffee, church, friends and finding corners of West London we've yet to explore. Sunday's word was on hearing and understanding the word but choosing not to abide by it and it was something that really resonated with me and I left feeling a lot more thoughtful in regards to how I honestly live my life vs how I'd like to live my life. My goal for the week was to be more patient - I failed miserably and ended up cursing a very rude man who walked into me later on that week oops!
Monday was lovely because we swanned around Southwark for the morning checking out Hej Coffee before afternoon tea and clay sculpting at London Wildflower. I'd met the founder, Nikki at a dinner Airbnb hosted for us back in July and I just knew I wanted to learn more about Nikki and her classes. It felt odd at first, feeling so at home in a strangers house sat around a table playing with lumps of clay with women from all walks of life, and indeed all over the world. It was nice to just let go and embrace a childlike view of creating, capturing and having fun. I loved that the whole experience wasn't to take home a perfectly polished piece but rather to just let go and be in the moment. 
On Tuesday I went to Acton to visit  my Archi-friend and old flatmate Domi who recently moved to London. We went to Kew Gardens in Richmond which I'd never quite gotten round to visiting. It was BEAUTIFUL! (But ridiculously warm!). Much of the day was spent oogling beautiful foliage, admiring the joints on the hive installation and reminiscing about postgrad.
The rest of the week was a blur of job rejections with the same "we liked you, we just liked someone else better" line, and after not one, but three job rejections within an hour on Thursday, I promptly shut my laptop, went to make some green tea, and opened a book instead which is a vast improvement from me welling up with tears and tearing myself to shreds so *clap clap* for me on my progress haha! My friend Stuart landed an Architecture role up in Manchester this week which made me super happy! But also sad as we worked together during our year out so I'll miss his presence down south a lot, but it means more visits back to the lovely north! I love Manchester so I can't wait to go visit when he's all settled in.

What has your week looked like?


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