Let me start by saying that I love being Nigerian American. And although I loved many aspects of my adolescence, there were several moments when being different was frustrating. For this reason, I came up with three tips for any Nigerian American teen who is struggling with embracing their uniqueness.
1. It's okay that you don't fit in
It took some time to accept this, so be strong! I purposely mispronounced my middle name so that it sounded more American. I remember taking a second to filter my answers when listing the foods that I had for the holidays or even when discussing holiday traditions to make sure that they didn't sound TOO strange. Now, I love telling people where my parents were born! I love the uniqueness that it gives me when I'm introducing myself to people. I also love talking about things that my family does that may be different from other cultures and you'd be surprised at how many people love to hear and want to try these things. You're going to cling to your culture when you move on from high school, trust me!
2. It's okay that you can't do everything that your friends can
I couldn't go anywhere! School dances were a "heck no" and I had to prep my parents for a whole week if I wanted to go to a football game. My prom pictures are of me by myself! And although I can count the extracurricular events that I attended in high school on my fingers, I can honestly say that I appreciate their intentions. My parents helped me to focus. Now, I do feel that Nigerian parents practice Extreme Parenting, but it's in love. Just remember that you're not alone and if you haven't been to things like a slumber party or a school dance, it's okay cause I never did either. :)
3. You're beautiful
I hate bullying! I was teased and bullied for being African, having big lips, having a big nose, and for my last name. I couldn't wait to change my last name! (It hasn't changed yet, BTW). I defended myself the first couple of times that I was teased about my looks, but eventually I began to accept those terrible words. I believed that I was ugly and I struggled with bottom-of-the-barrel self-esteem. Don't believe the lies! I don't care if you don't have one peer to recognize it, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Just remember that you're not going to be in middle or high school forever, so enjoy who you are and enjoy this time as much as you can!