“I am ugly because I am black, my nose is too big for my face, my teeth are hideously obvious and nobody has ever liked me, nor ever will like me because I look like this. I am so ugly, I shouldn’t be alive…”
My 13-year-old self wrote that in her diary, which was stained with tears. When I was reading my diary, I felt heavy with the burden of wishing I could go back to that time and tell her she was indeed beautiful.
That she should really be spending her time in pursuit of her passions rather than acceptance. That one day she would find that she never needed anyone to validate her existence. That one day she would love herself, and make it easier for others to love her … I can’t send letters to my past self nor can I travel back in time, but I wouldn’t do it because my experiences have made me who I am today.
High school for some may have been the best years of their lives but for me, those were the years I spent hating myself because I never stood up for who I was.
How could I if I didn’t really know? I spent so much time trying to get people to like me, be it bullshitting about being best friends with Vanessa Hudgens or my mother being the CEO of Nintendo. I said those things because I was trying to make up for my dark complexion so that maybe if people believed me, they’d see my worth and maybe I would see it too.
Being fair was my primary goal back then (or at least fairer) and the lengths I’d go to achieve that was quite drastic (to say the least).
At the tender age of 15, I filled my bathtub with bleach and endured excruciating itchiness all over my body for the sake of acceptance. In the hopes that people around me would finally not see me as ‘unclean’ or ‘ugly’. In my pursuit, I realised I was not only damaging my skin with the chemicals but I made myself have golden body hair. I was fortunate that my skin did not peel off or something, but I did become a walking spectacle for weeks and that was not the kind attention you’d want in high school.
Frankly, I welcomed the distant giggles than watching my classmates argue about sitting near me as if I would infect them with some disease.
At the time, I thought truth meant what the majority agreed on. So I agreed with them, I was ugly. I went to the salon week after week because I was convinced that my natural hair was unruly. Pretty girls did not have frizz and curls.
It was pretty to have straight hair. Most of the hairstylists I went to made me believe that. They would cringe at the sight of my hair and I still deal with that sort of thing today. I thought my stylish hairstyle would make people accept me more, but it just made me the centre of attention of angry children who sang rhymes as I entered the class, about how ugly my hair was and how it was amazing that I could get uglier. I do hope Convent girls aren’t so mean these days.
Needless to say, it was hard, to hate the person looking back at you in the mirror while expecting everyone else to love you. It made me seek love in the wrong people, places and things. The lies made it worse. It made me feel filthier. More unworthy.
It led to a series of ongoing issues and then my breaking point where I almost lost everything. My insecurities made me angry, hostile and needy. I mistreated my family and friends without appreciating the fact that they actually did have my back. They did love me but I wanted the validation of the wrong people that I kept making one bad decision after another.
I even debated the worst decision anyone could ever make.
“If I couldn’t erase my darkness, maybe its better to erase my existence”
Then I hit rock bottom, I swallowed pills to silence the negative voices that I had been collecting and playing at maximum volume on repeat throughout my life. However, instead of silence, everything was so much louder, the fear of uncertainty of what awaited me on the other side. It all played out in my head, my mother and sister crying at my funeral and my friends … the ones who already loved me for who I am … how could I do this to them? Why do I want to give so much power, to give my life, to the people who not only don’t matter but don’t care about me?
There I was in the hospital. A police report filed on my attempt. Judgemental looks from the nurses.
There I was surrounded by people who were fighting to live and I almost gave up. I realised then, that that decision would have been the most selfish thing I could have ever done. More than that, who’s to say there isn’t something worse on the other side?
I wouldn’t wish for anyone to reach the kind of breaking point I went through. I was very lucky to have my sister who had such faith in me as a person and saw who I was before anyone else did. Of course, my mother who did everything in her power to make sure I was happy and though it did lead her to bring me for whitening injections. She never made me feel bad about my skin colour or complained about the cost of my insecurities. Her display of strength, when faced with harsh criticisms about her weight and complexion by people close to her, moved me closer towards understanding that the people that say such things don’t mean well. Hence, I shouldn’t allow myself to be bothered with their opinions just like my mother. My friends back then, a group of misfits who called me out of my compulsive lies and actually took the time to appreciate me as a person.
I look at my life now and I just see beauty everywhere. My life changed because my attitude about it changed. I came to accept that part of me who cares about what people think about me, but I get to decide how much I let that affect me and how it affects me. If I am told that I look tired or can improve in some way, I can decide if I want that to change or not. It doesn’t make me more or less worthy, either way.
Now, I honestly feel like the rockstar in my own life. I have a great family, a loving boyfriend, fantastic friends and a job I enjoy. But my happiness isn’t tied to any of them. The only constant in life is change, they say. But I’d like to add that the only constant in life is change and myself. Sure we’re not going to be immortal, but when your happiness comes from an internal place, no one or anything can take that from you.
This post was sent in anonymously.