Culture has a funny way of moulding your personality, especially when it comes to how you love. You have a range of influences telling you how to love from as early as diaper days. You’re watching sitcoms like ‘Full House’ and watching Caucasians kiss and hug like it’s going out of fashion. Then the next minute you’re watching melodramatic Nollywood movies with your family on Saturday night and would be lucky if an ‘I love you’ accidentally rolled of off one of your parent’s tongue. I grew up as a black, African (read: Nigerian) and British girl and all three cultures seem to be conservative when it comes to expressing love. So it left me wondering how sitting between the intersections of these three cultures affected the way I love and express my love for those in my life.
It's only words, right? Wrong.
Growing up, I got quite the opposite of words of affirmation most times. African parents are skilled at using words as weapons when the slipper or belt is too far away. However, some don’t seem as forthcoming when it comes to using their words to adorn you with love and affirmation.
I think because I didn’t hear about how amazing I was growing up, one of my primary love languages now is words of affirmation. I love hearing how people feel about me and it’s important that I get that affirmation. My parents didn’t tell me that they’re proud of me and that I’m amazing and they love me very often. As a result, I looked for hugs and I looked for words of affirmation everywhere. I searched for it in the gazes from randy men and the possessiveness of high school BFFs. I also think the lack thereof is the reason I give affirming words to people as one of the ways I express love.