F*** Racism, bias and all the excuses you tell yourself
There is a bias in the world.
There is a certain privilege that we can't ignore.
There are people that will forever make excuses.
That we can't change, or at least not yet.
Sadly we aren't in a world, as I write this in 2019, where everyone is ready to accept people for who they are irrespective of their colour, ethnicity, gender, culture, wealth or status.
We aren't in a world where people see their own beauty and strengths above their excuses.
We aren't in a world where we can judge people on their merits rather than their commonalities with our own stories.
But we are also in a world where your current circumstances do not need to define your future.
We are in a world where you, as a coloured person, a shorter guy, a larger women, a poorer child, a weaker teenager can still prosper and achieve things beyond your wildest dreams.
You see, I invented this story that I would struggle and be ignored in my head growing up in my early teens, when I first started to experience racism.
It was a weird thing to experience given I had grown up in a very multicultural primary school with close friends of all shapes, sizes and colours.
However, as the racism became a bit more apparent from time to time, I started to see myself pivoting towards more people the same colour as me, feeling somewhat safer. I guess knowing I could 'belong' and not experience unjust criticism because of my skin tone or the foods my family cooked at home meant it was easier for me, to just stick around the familiar.
Yet fast-forward a few years into my later teen years even that became short-lived. To add to the racism I now started to experience discrimination. I found it hard to comprehend the discrimination within religions, cultures and people of the same skin tone.
Not that discrimination is acceptable on any front, but just as I began to feel safer I swiftly realised there would always be a reason to show some level of prejudice to those who appear different.
So I found myself having to abide or at least I persuaded myself back then that I ought to follow the crowds in order to fit in.
But there's a common problem people tend to experience when they are forced or choose to fit into something that does not align with their core beliefs and values. This was me.
I had this weird sensation in my gut knowing my choices were no longer my own and most my decisions were predicated on the hope that I would achieve external accolades and appraisals from external people.
Why was I doing this?
I sit here now asking myself the same question, why was my own opinion, values and beliefs being sidelined simply to fit in with others?
But we don't know what we don't know as the saying goes.
So anyway, I ventured through life, believing that my religion, my colour, my background, my caste, would always dictate my achievements in life. I believed everything was set in terms of limits of experience and possibilities.
I then ran with this thought.
Add to that I 'found' some convincing evidence along the way, which reaffirmed my beliefs and strengthened the narrative I told myself.
One example of this was during my University placement year. I sent off 100+ applications to organisations seeking a placement in my 3rd year. I received 1 interview, 19 rejections and 80+ no responses.
I then had a brainwave. I changed my surname from Singh to Deu on all my applications.
Now I would always use Deu growing up anyway, but somewhere during my misguided, later teens years as I explained above, I started to opt for Singh to really fit into the crowd, especially as my appearance didn't fit in well with the groups I was part of.
Fast forward a few months and the results, although from a much smaller sample size, were astonishing. 3 interviews from 5 applications.
I did it. I cracked the code to discrimination at least at the early stage.
My thought process now, was to charm them with my personality, and hoping they would overlook the fact I was a little on the darker side.
Fast forward 2 weeks and I had a job and began working. Now the point of this isn't to say a simple surname can change your experiences.
The point is, that when we believe something so much we often find examples or experiences in life to support those notions. Who is to say if I didn't send those 5 applications in my first batch I wouldn't have got 3 interviews?
Who's to say that if I didn't apply the same confidence behind my applications, truly believing I had cracked the code of surnames and discrimination for job applications, I would have still got the invites?
You see these are questions that remain hypothetical but I do believe we can construct our views, our habits, our beliefs in any way shape or form should we wish too, especially to support the narrative we tell ourselves.
Are we a victim of the stories we tell ourselves? Do they assist or hinder us?
I know my answer for this. But I digress.
So, fast-forward a few days, and I am welcomed by what I consider one of my many mentors in life, although only for a short period, Adrian or Ade as I soon started to call him.
Ade taught me a lot about myself, during my time working as a project manager and as I am speaking in past tense, you have probably grasped the fact the colour of my skin meant nothing to him, or Ray or Nigel the two directors at the time, who offered me the job which I took without a second thought!
Now the point of this post is to wake you up and get you to stop trying to limit your potential, actions and approach to achieving what you want by the stories you continue to tell yourself.
Yes you will not get every opportunity you want because of a bias that sadly exists, but you can still get EVERYTHING you want if you refuse to give up and offer enough value and change your limiting beliefs.
Losing that 10% advantage because of the bias, can easily be made up by maximising that 90% that is all in your control. You max out your 90% you are already in the top few % within your circle or industry.
How far could you go if you are in the top 10%?
How much further could you be along your journey if you ignored these stories, which don't always tell the whole truth and believed in yourself and vision.
I hope this post comes across the way I intended it too.
I have no problem with bias, it's not something I can change or have the energy to try to change.
I simply have a problem with excuses, my own previous excuses especially, but more so the excuses people tell me about daily, in relation to why their circumstances limit their opportunities.
You need to know, its yourself, your thoughts, your habits and behaviours alone that do just that.
I guess this is another reason for my podcast and having the amazing guests I have on it. (Find Your Voice at www.arendeu.com/podcasts).
I hope you all find a way to change your circumstances and combat your excuses.
I also hope you all have an awesome day!