A little of my background to show that ‘being black’ was not an excuse to fail my exams. It would be a lack of motivation, encouragement and listening to others say, What’s the point? You are never going to be successful in this country.

I was born in August 1972 in London, United Kingdom. I emphasise this because back then, things were very different. Equal opportunities never existed.

My two sisters and I were ‘the innocent’, unfamiliar with bad behaviours such as violence or swearing. We were raised to be clean, decent, independent young ladies. It was to be ‘perfect’ as my mother wanted to ensure that no one had anything bad to say about us.

The word ladies had meaning back then; you were brought up with cleanliness, manners, and respect. We were singers in the church and did much charitable stuff for the old ladies in the East End.

My parents had great expectations, encouraged us to take our education seriously, and monitored our homework.

By age three, we were reading the first book, the Holy Bible, which was probably the hardest book to start as it was the King James Version with the thee and thou. 

I loved my primary school in London.

I always remember getting full marks for my spelling test. The teacher would write the word on our hand, and we would go home and learn it.

Moving swiftly on to the subject in hand, as I have mentioned before in my books, we moved to South Wales in 1981, and that is when it all went downhill for me.

I continued primary school in Malpas. I was unaware of being looked on as an outcast simply because of my skin colour until I entered this country.

I concentrated on my education and was in all the top classes in Comprehensive School, and I did well. Maths, English and the sciences were on the curriculum, as well as French.

I did not enjoy any part of my life in South Wales other than when I went out with my Sunday schoolteacher and the other kids in church. She was very nice, and I always remembered her.

1987, back in London, I was a changed person as I no longer felt the need to work as hard at school. After having it drummed into my head at school in Malpas that the only best-paid job I would get was as an athlete, as ‘blacks’ did not fit in anywhere else, I wondered what the point was.

The other option they gave me is that I would probably end up pregnant or in a correction facility.

I arrived in London in 1987. I lived in Newham, but my parents wanted me to attend one of the best diverse schools in East London, and at the time, it was Raines Foundation School. 

After being assessed, I was put in all the top classes. Most of my regret was playing truant school and being too lax with my studies. I knew I could have gotten all A’s, but I allowed my past to affect my future negatively and accepted scraping by as average.

When asked what career path I had chosen, I did not have a clue; becoming a criminal lawyer was my passion, but I never thought it would be possible to aim that high. 

This happens when you allow other people to control your destiny by listening to the negative rubbish they have to say.

My parents taught me that I could do anything and everything and that it was down to me. 

I was going to encounter obstacles when I went to interviews, but there was always someone who looked beyond colour, so I always aced my interviews.

I never had problems finding work, and although I was always a minority in every job I worked, I gave 100%.

Today, although I am academically multi-skilled, I have also discovered that I have a lot of practical talents. I am an author, artist, and actor and have just started singing. I look forward to having a go at anything else.

I love being active and have since picked up my lazy self and got back into fitness training. I needed to improve for sport; I could do much more than my oppressors gave me credit for.

The saddest thing for me is that my Father never got to see the new life that I adopted. He would have been extremely proud of me, as he always was.

Life is what you make of it, and my message is that only you will ever know how much you are capable of. Forget about other people and the obstacles that could stand in your way.

Try your hands at everything; you will be surprised by what you can learn about yourself.

In everything, there must be a balance.

Natalie Bleau

The Scripture of Balance

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