With the release of Jendella Benson's debut novel, Hope & Glory, we have commissioned four black women to write personal essays inspired by the book. Christine Ochefu writes the fourth and final essay in our Hope & Glory series and delicately explores how friendships with black women have helped her embrace self acceptance and find a home in herself.
Some would say that your sense of self is a home, or supposed to be home anyway. There was a time I maybe never felt at home in myself. It was out of my control, but where I was my black female friends were little more than one or two, and though I had other social networks some things can’t translate across colour lines no matter how hard we try to make them do so.
Personal difficulties and growing pains take a toll on settling into yourself and who you are. It almost causes a dysmorphia of the temperament, so to speak; when I was younger I was the type of child that felt I spoke too quietly, worried too much, and felt generally socially isolated. After I left my hometown and travelled for university, work and other things, and found myself stumbling into meeting black women I’d come to call my friends.
Friendship, I think, is something of a romance. I recall those initial meetings fondly; myself and the other girls doing a dance of awkward smiles, careful politeness, always mindful not to overstep in case to offend the other (suspected fears that would be expressed only later down the line during bouts of laughter).