So, according to my info page, this blog or space as I’d like to refer to it, is about promoting truth and authenticity. I think it’s time for some personal truths from moi.
This particular post is going to be outlining the start of my misguided journey to perfection.
(At this point I would like to clarify that there is no such thing as human perfection (only God is perfect) and that is why I refer to it as a ‘misguided journey…’)
‘Twas an average school day.
As I controlled my haste to leave the school premises and enter back into the solace of my home, I was oblivious to the fact that I wasn’t very good at hiding my discontent at the way my life was.
I was 13/14, trotting down the stained pavements to my house.
I carried the weight of not just the books on my back, but of broken feelings and a heavy heart.
I heard a shout from the road . It came from a man in a white van , he yelled ‘It cant be that bad!’.
The man had slowed down to, I guess reassure me, I’m not quite sure what he wanted to achieve, but I sure did appreciate it. I offered him a flash, fraudulent smile.
As he drove off, he took that reassurance with him, belted in his front seat, because after he left I felt my face fall as my solemn expression returned.
I highlight this example because I still remember it clearly till this day and this was the beginning of a turning point for me.
During high school, I was teased relentlessly for the following :
- Being dark- skinned
- Being African
- Having a non-Jewish/English name
(not an exhaustive list, but these are just the main)
There were incidences where people in my class would gossip about me and laugh at me behind my back and when I turned around, go completely quiet and resume as I turned back around. This inflamed my paranoia to extreme levels.
People would call me ugly, to my face, with no reservation and even sometimes with a sprinkle of humour, which I never contested because at first I didn’t care, but later I agreed. The most defeating part of being bullied or teased or degraded, is when you begin to agree with them and accept what they say about you. That’s when you lay down your self- esteem to them and wave the white flag of surrender.
People would make ‘African’ chants at me (which included chanting my name) and references to ‘African’ things because obviously, Africa was a country, duh!. Now, luckily for me I was born in Nigeria and I possessed such a strong sense of patriotism for Nigeria that as much as I hated being teased for being African, the Nigerian pride in me was too strong. This was one thing, they couldn’t squeeze out of me.
Girls in my year would purposefully exclude me from plan or activities, to make a point, which honestly I wasn’t too heartbroken about, so I grabbed myself and my pride and settled us in the school library. Now when I say that I wasn’t heartbroken about it that was true in the moment. But the lasting effects of this was that I began to exclude myself from groups. I assumed that people would never want to hang out with me, I wasn’t cool enough, I wasn’t good enough.
I mention these examples to set the scene. School was a hostile environment for me. In the earlier years (8 and 9), these incidents occurred almost every single day. I really, really did not want to be there, but unfortunately that was where I would be spending most of my time.
I noticed I was becoming the shell of the person I used to be. I reminisced on days when I was in primary school and I liked school and I had friends and I like life.
So I made a decision.
That I was going to change. That I was going to be happy, and here is where my journey began…
N.B. After much reflection on the past, I am beginning to conclude that the underlying cause of the bullying and the teasing was fear. Not fear of me as a person, (at a modest 5’3 I’m not much to be frightful of) but fear of what I stood for. What I was, which was different.
I was different , didn’t fit the mould. I was cut from a different cloth ( lace, not ankara) so the children sought to make me ashamed of my cloth as to not let it outshine theirs, as taught.
Stay tuned and subscribed if you want to take a ride on this very tremulous journey in search for happiness and contentment.