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  • Carmel Mbenga

The phases of my identity

It took me a long time to find out who I was. Who I am. What I do like, and why do I like it? What is my purpose in this world? Those questions were continuously haunting my thoughts. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know my age, my name, my family background, the things I like to eat, my favorite places. But my true self? The inner me? I had a hard time connecting to her.

Identity crises

I’m a black girl, an African girl, the firstborn in my family, a preacher’s kid, and a believer of Christ.

Growing up as a young black girl, I felt very insecure. The majority of the time, I grew up around white kids. Outside of my own family, I didn’t see a lot of black. So, automatically I started seeing them as something more superior to me, and that’s when my identity crises began.

I started adopting their mannerism, wanted to fit in in their world. I was simply adopting their whole identity whilst slowly losing myself through the process.

And looking back, it hurts that these were the thoughts that I once had. Because I’ve always been beautiful, but I couldn’t see it back then.

‘Was there no one to reassure you?’- You know when you grow up in an African household, they don’t always teach you how to be confident. When you do something wrong, they rather punish than reassure you. This is not the case for all African households, of course. However, I only had these types of conversations with my mother once I turned 20.

It’s so important to speak life into your children’s lives, to boost them, to encourage them, to communicate properly with them. You will raise more confident children who are ready to confront almost everything that will come their way.

I truly suffered from it, and to this day, I see the consequences.


Not only did I grow in an African household, but being a preacher’s kid also played a huge factor in shaping me as a person. When you are a preacher’s kid people expect you to conduct yourself in a certain way and to set an example for others. I had to be everything except being myself. Unfortunately, I’m the worst preacher’s kid a preacher could have. I don’t sing in a choir; I rarely go to seminaries; I go out, I listen to secular music, and I don’t play an instrument. I tried playing an instrument, but that didn’t work out. Despite all that I love God, and I aspire to grow in my faith and have a personal relationship with Him.

I hated being the preacher’s kid because I just wanted to do the same things that other children were doing. But I had to conform to the lifestyle that I’ve never signed up for, to begin with. I was suppressing the real me to make my parents and the world happy.

All these things contributed to my identity but also changed the ‘DNA’ of my identity. Because who would I had become if these factors had never interfered? A better version? Is it possible to find the real you that has been suppressed for so many years if you’ve never had the chance to come in contact with that side of you? Only God knows.

My identity

I had to learn to find who I truly was. I had to think about myself and nobody else.

I had to unlearn and erase the identity that was given to me by society and my own family and take my power back.

Today, I found out who I am, but I’m still getting to know her. I’m Carmel, a simple girl who found her passion in writing. A girl who loves making silly jokes, a girl who loves making people happy. A girl who loves encouraging people to be the best version of themselves. A girl who’s very passionate about love and the list goes on.

I’m Carmel. Who are you?

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