I don’t care who you are. For all I know, you’re a 44-year-old man trying to figure out what’s going on in his daughter’s head. Or perhaps you’ve just finished an exam and you’re anxious about your results. As I said before, I don’t care. Because that’s not what’s important. What’s important, is that you’re here. And you’re reading MY article. And reader, you have no idea how much that means to me.
When I was in first year, I became depressed, my self-esteem plummeted, I believed I had no talents, no friends and no future. Sometimes I read over old diary entries and it makes me sad to think of how lost that girl that was. I used to skip meals because I thought the smaller I was, the less space I took up, the more people would like me.
I thought the world needed someone quiet and small and pretty and sweet.
I didn’t write articles back then and I certainly wouldn’t read anything out loud that I did ever write.
Ever since I was six years old and I was bossing the other kids around in the playground, I always had this fire and intensity in me. But I was told to suppress it, I was told that it made me unlikable. So I started to talk less, eat less, I started to wear the clothes everyone else wore even though I didn’t even like them. And still, I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t manage to find a group of friends who understood me. When I was with groups of people, I always felt I was on the outside, looking in.
And now reader, I am going to tell you what I wish I had heard back then; if ANYONE ever makes you feel like you need to “calm down” and become smaller or less noticeable, then you need to turn up the volume and you need to take up MORE space. You are so so beautiful, I promise. And maybe you don’t have straight teeth or long hair or a flat stomach. But what about the way you hug your mam after she’s had a long day? Or the way you always manage to find the PERFECT pair of shoes to match every outfit? How about the time you gave your friend your favourite t-shirt because you know she loves it? They are the things that make you beautiful. And I know that you’ve probably been told a million times to “be yourself“. And the words might have lost their meaning because you’ve heard them so much.
But honestly, it’s your passion that will draw people in. It’s the spark in your eye when you talk about something you love that will make people listen. And when you stand tall you could never be anything except absolutely breath-taking.
I understand how hard it is to have the courage to “be yourself“, “live your truth” and all that jazz but let me tell you a secret. The moment you stop letting other people control how you feel about yourself and the moment you allow yourself to speak your mind and eat what you want and wear the clothes you love, I guarantee you, the MOMENT that happens, your whole life will change. At least, how you feel about your life.
Nearly four years later, I still have my bad days. But I have an amazing group of supportive friends, I have passions and hobbies and hopes for the future. I started speaking my mind in class and it actually led to me making some amazing friends. I started writing poetry and even when it scared me, I started reading it at open mics. I started to eat food that I really enjoyed and stopped caring about clothes size I was and started caring whether or not I genuinely liked the style I was wearing.
I discovered how I deserved to be treated and I only let people I respected and admired have my trust. Most of all though, I discovered kindness.
And how even when you think you are empty of love and you hate everryyythiingg, you must still find a nice thing to say about yourself. You must still manage to give your mam or dad a quick hug because you know it’ll make them feel better. I have this article that I’ve written, that I never thought I’d write and slowly but surely I’m beginning to be thankful for what I went through because it means that I can hopefully help people who are going through the same thing. I let myself become undiluted and utterly insanely myself. I’m not going to let anyone in this whole world tell me who or what I should be.
So please, let me leave you with this :
It is not too late to stand up right now and be the person you know you are deep down. It is not too late to cut out the people in your life who make you feel like you’re not good enough. It is not too late for you to realise the amazing, kind, funny and fantastic person that you are. The world does not need you to fit in, it doesn’t need a girl who is just like every other girl, someone who is scared to be themselves. The world needs you to stand out, stand up, stand proud. So you rock your crazy hair and mad taste in music because it makes you memorable and it makes you beautiful.
We love hearing from our ambassadors and girls in our Shona community who have battled through a difficult experience and have overcome something they never thought they could. The Shona community is a safe space for people to share their experiences so others don’t feel alone. If you have something you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Just pop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org x
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