Madina's Story: Struggling to Find my Identity Between Cultures

Growing up as a first-generation Somali Canadian I had some issues finding my identity.

I was caught between two different cultures at home, and at school. It was hard to really know what my path would look like, how I should act, and where I fit in.

The schools I went to were predominantly white and I was usually the only black person in my class, or of a handful of black students in the school.

On top of that, I was a hijabi from when I was 9 years old until the middle of grade 12 (17 years old).

Growing up and being exposed to so many different cultures I never really found my place in any category (Muslim, Black, Somali, Canadian).

I was fighting a unique battle between cultures and religion. How was I supposed to dress, talk, act?

There were so many questions I never really found the answer to.

There were so many expectations placed upon me from my family, but also societal expectations on how I should act. I always felt that I was different because of those reasons but also because I had trouble in school for years. Which I now learned was because I had ADHD which made learning a little difficult.

Let’s just say that high school wasn’t the best 4 years of my life. As a people pleaser, I was

way too nice, I hid my emotions and was always pretending to be that happy and positive friend for everyone. Little did they know that behind closed doors I wasn’t happy with my image, place in life, and myself.

Constantly worrying and stressing was a part of my day. Worrying about fitting in, making other people happy, doing the right thing….you name it. My anxiety was not my best friend throughout most of my life.

Reading the book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson changed my life. I went from caring about what everyone thinks to doing what makes me happy. It was the start of my journey towards change. This partially resulted in me creating more embarrassing moments in my life because I would take more chances and hear more rejections.

The flip side to that is that eventually, I heard those yes’s and doors started opening up because I took many risks. I took risks in entrepreneurship, opening up, being honest, in relationships you name it!

Over time I slowly became more confident and less scared to be myself around others.

That's why the brand I created “Awkward Royalty” is all about authenticity, individual expression, and standing out. This was who I am constantly striving to become, I am not perfect or have it all figured out. That's okay, nobody has it really figured out no matter what they look like.

It wasn’t until COVID that I found mindfulness and introspection. I used this method to heal my mental health issues.

It's an uphill battle that I will always have to face. But it is the start of controlling my mental health challenges instead of letting it control me.

I started using blogging as a way to be an advocate for change, personal growth, and challenging society’s expectations. Everyone wants you to be at the same pace. Go to college, get a job, buy a house, get married, etc. It's a linear path that never really resonated with me.

I always wanted to do something bigger, make a big impact on people’s lives.

How am I going to do that? Only time will tell. There is no true definition of success, it's all about fulfilling your individual purpose.

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