Have you ever looked in the mirror and decided that you loathe the person staring back at you? Have you ever looked at yourself and wished you were someone else? Have you ever struggled to accept your body or any part of it? Have you ever had to deal with people’s silly, annoying comments about your appearance?
If you have, then you will be able to relate with all that I am about to share.
I’m the smallest person in my family. All my siblings — including our youngest who’s barely 15 — are bigger (I mean, taller) than me. Growing up, I watched disappointedly as people blatantly refused to believe me whenever I told them my age. I shook my head in disgust when they erroneously assumed that my younger ones were older than I. I felt slighted when people mockingly talked about how short and tiny I was.
I was always self-conscious about my height and size. Any remark about my body greatly hurt and offended me, even when the speaker’s intent was complimentary.
However, it was when kids in diapers — instead of ‘grown-up and matured boys’ — began approaching me for a relationship, that my self-esteem and self-confidence spiraled down and gradually plunged me into an abyss of self-loathing and self-pity.
During my last days in secondary school and about a year after, I was the only one among my friends who didn’t have a boyfriend. While some of my friends started dating in junior secondary school and already had series of exes by the time we were preparing to write SSCE, I had no idea what it felt like to have a boyfriend.
Not that guys weren’t asking me out, but they were either too young for me or I just didn’t like them.
Once, I introduced one of my friends to a group of people, and they told me to stop claiming that a girl that grown and that pretty was my friend. According to them, she looked more of an ‘aunty’ to me than a friend.
When I turned 18, I stood in front of the mirror and wished that the person staring back at me was taller, fatter, and prettier. I wished my butt could pump out a little. I wanted a bigger hip and a slimmer waistline.
I envied every girl who was tall, fat, curvy and pretty. I envied all my siblings because they would never know how it feels to be the smallest person in the family. No one will ever make mockery comments about their heights or their sizes. They will never have to worry about being ugly or inferior because they will always be beautiful in the eyes of society. Or so I thought.
And as I grew older, my self-esteem and self-confidence perplexed. There was an unshakeable feeling inside of me that I was ugly, unworthy, and not good enough. I hated my body. I hated myself. I was ready to give an arm and a leg to grow taller — even if it was just one or two inches. I wanted to add weight so bad I ate everything, drank everything that people claimed could make you fat. Fizzy drinks were my best companion.
I developed chronic mood swings. I was perpetually angry and sad. I slipped in and out of depression.
When I met my first boyfriend, I was 19, naive and hopelessly wallowing in low self-esteem and anxiety. He was the first grown-up and matured boy (he was three years older than I) who wooed me that I liked.
Problem is, the relationship was doomed from the start. But I was too blind to see it.
He was an unrepentant liar, a chronic cheat, a sex addict, a very manipulative and very stingy person.
The first day he came to my house, he asked my neighbour/friend out. I overheard him telling her he loved her and wanted to date her, even though it was the first time they were meeting. We had been together for only two weeks.
When I confronted him, he didn’t deny it but owned up to it and apologized. I got mad and told him it was over. But after he kept pleading for forgiveness and promised to be faithful to me, I let go and went back to dating him.
I’m sure my neighbour/friend must have made a jest of me behind my back. I cringe as I type this. I must have looked like the world’s biggest fool. I sure feel like it just thinking about it now.
We dated for three years and not a day went by that he didn’t cheat, or lied about one thing or the other. Not a day went by that he didn’t disrespect me and played on my emotions.
I will spare y’all the details of our relationship because one; I am too ashamed to tell it and two; it’s a very long and painful story.
The only reason I put up with him and his excesses was that I didn’t think any better of myself. I thought so little of myself that I was always ready to let him into my arms every time he said: “I’m sorry.”
Rather than walking away, I made excuses for him. He’s a sex addict, and since we hardly get to have sex, that’s why he cheats. He lies to me because he doesn’t want to hurt me. He doesn’t give me money because he has a lot of expenses to make….
But, everything changed in 2012, when I decided one morning that I have had enough.
I was in ND 2 and I’ve met several petite girls. I was even friends with two of them. And they were happy and comfortable in their bodies. They were so in love with their bodies and the way they looked that I began to fall in love with mine.
I embraced my body in its entirety and I stopped wishing to be like anyone else.
Also, in school, I saw a lot of people who were confined to wheelchairs and crutches. People who would do anything to walk again, and I realized I had no reason to hate myself.
I also saw people who were tinier than me. People who prolly looked at me with envy, and I knew I have been wallowing in self-hate for nothing.
I realized that by putting up with a cheat and a liar simply because I thought I don’t deserve any better was selling myself short. I realized no one has the power to treat me less than I am or make me feel bad unless I give it to them. I realized what other people think of me is none of my business. And most importantly, I realized that if I don’t love and respect myself and be kind to myself, no one would.
And my life changed.
It has been 8 years, and sometimes, self-hate and self-pity still creep in but every one of those times I remind myself that I am perfectly and beautifully made. I remind myself of what the Bible said in Jeremiah 1:5 and I trust in Him and His promises upon my life.
No matter what life throws at me and no matter who I meet in the future, I will always stand tall, bold and beautiful. I’ll always love this short, not-so-tiny-anymore and insanely indescribable beauty called body that God, in His infinite Mercy, has blessed me with.
I am beautiful beyond words and nobody can tell me otherwise. Not even those who have made it a point of duty to point out my big stomach whenever I post a full pic lol.
P.S. Have you ever battled low self-esteem or depression? Would you mind sharing your experience with me? Please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading.