Growing up in the fruit rich countryside of Barbados was so much fun, I remember climbing mango and breadfruit trees and any tree I could climb, I was a bit of a tomboy so I played with the boys most of the time and rode bicycles and did most of the things the boys did.
St. Andrew is a place that has a rich community spirit where everyone seems to know each other. My best friend and I as we got older began to grow apart.
Since no two people ever follow the exact same life path, your own development as a person will be unique.
This can be difficult to appreciate since people live in communities and societies that often have expectations and age-related milestones. For example, your society might expect you to get an education, find a job, and start a family, in that order.
I had expectations for myself also but life does not always reward you with your dreams.
As I grew into my late teens and became more independent I started to make new friends outside my community and church.
I got a job working just outside Bridgetown and it was paying decent money so I thought I would move out of the house I called home for the last 23 years, I told my mom and dad and they even supported the idea of me doing this.
I found a small apartment and within a few days, I had moved in. It wasn’t the best but it was comfortable.
How It Began
I remember the Crop Over season was coming up, the music started playing more and more on the radio, it was supposed to be my second time jumping in a band so I was saving to buy my costume.
As life would have it, the company I worked for got sold and I was a casualty, now with no job and rent due at month-end, I could have easily go back home and that is what I was going to do.
I confided in my bestie and she said she does not “work” either, so then I ask how could you even pay your rent and that’s when I found out the darkest secret my bestie was keeping from me.
I won’t go into much detail but we started talking about her lifestyle and as tempting as it was I wanted to just end the conversation but I knew I wanted my independence more so going back home was not on the table anymore.
Although it only lasted for two years, I can tell you with absolute certainty that prostitution saved my life. I became a much wiser person.
I don’t regret that it happened, I don’t hate myself for having done it. Yes, it had some terrible moments. Yes, it was often humiliating. Yes, sometimes it undoubtedly dehumanized me.
Most of the men that would visit the Bush Hill area had preferences for girls they could not have otherwise and the kind of sex they could not get not even from their wives.
During intercourse, sometimes I even came. Yes. Sometimes I really would. I’m not proud of that, not at all. It’s just what happened sometimes. My body would respond.
I remember walking out of a house one night on top of the world with $200 to pay the rent. Well, I got hooked.
A lot of the men wanted younger girls, lighter skin and thin, I fit the mole perfectly and therefore was turning over good money, my most was $650 on a weeknight, weekends are supposed to be the best.
The “job” did come with its downsides, younger men didn’t like paying and the other girls from the other islands would fight often if they thought you were stealing “their” clients.
I did not have a pimp so it was just me and bestie looking out for each other.
I had to lose my pride and go all in so if a man wanted oral sex I gave him oral sex, men love it and that kept me a steady clientele.
Back to church
I had my wake up call when I saw a woman dumped from a car, it looked like she was raped and that’s always a possibility on the streets.
I reached out to my mom and I’m lucky I don’t have a judgemental mother, she was sad that this is what I was doing but she helped me and soon I started going back to church not often but I made the effort and even got a job, not as good and my first but it was an honest dollar.
My Rules for the young women who might be thinking of doing what I did, please read what I was thought and still stick to even to this day.
Figure out what you’re passionate about
Find which activities, people, or things make you act with the most enthusiasm and passion. This will help you feel more independent and competent in your daily life.
Avoid simply acting on an impulse. Instead, give some thought to what you’re already motivated by and learn to use these abilities. For example, you may realize that you’re passionate about teaching others. Use this knowledge to look for opportunities to use that enthusiasm.
Think about what makes you happy
Start by making a list of as many happy situations as you can remember. Write down as many details regarding the events as you can remember.
A list will help you figure out what it was about these situations that made you happy or energetic. You may notice that you were with the same few people. Or, maybe you found that you enjoy figuring out challenges.
Since different things make different people happy, you must know what you enjoy. For example, your list might have something like playing video games, playing the drums, or painting. This might lead you to realize that you’re happiest when you’re working with your hands.
Look for opportunities to foster your talents and interests
Once you know what makes you passionate and happy, look for jobs or volunteer opportunities. For example, if you realize you’ve always enjoyed talking to your grandparents, you might try to find work with an organization that assists the elderly in some capacity.
Look for opportunities that will make you happy in the long term. Ask yourself where you see yourself in five or ten years. Then, consider whether a job or volunteer offers fit into that picture.
Use your passion to connect with others
Discovering yourself is an important part of growing up and creating your own life, but you need to include others too.
Regardless of what your passions are, you can find a local or digital community that share similar interests. You may even find that networking creates job opportunities that allow you to focus entirely on your interests. For example, if you’re motivated to woodwork, you might look for a local group that meets to share a workshop.
They may be able to offer you advice on honing your skill and could even tell you about opportunities to sell your work.
Take care of yourself
Part of growing up is developing strategies for self-care. This means being able to respect yourself and handle your emotional and physical needs.
This way, you won’t be overly dependent on others. For example, you should be eating a healthy diet, maintaining good physical health, getting enough rest, and creating respectful relationships.
You’ll also need to learn how to manage your desires and be happy without interfering with people who want to be left alone. For example, if you feel compelled to repair a relationship with a family member, but are refused, you’ll need to learn how to move on without fulfilling that need.
I’m older now and much wiser.