Know Your Worth

By Iranola Ojuolape

In my earlier years, ranging between elementary and middle school, I was extremely shy. Actually, shy is an understatement. I was a self-effacing, modest child who had trouble holding the slightest amount of conversation with any of my peers.

Why? Honestly, at the time, I had no idea why I was this way – I believed that it was just my nature. But reflecting, I realize that my encounters with others resulted in me becoming a closed-off person. My ability to shun out the world was one that worried my parents, siblings, and myself.

Saying I was bullied would definitely be considered a stretch in this situation, but I received just the right amount of teasing from my peers to form an unbreakable shell that eventually resulted in me becoming more reserved and reticent.

I was a young, Naija girl before it was considered trendy or cool (but we’ll save that topic for another day). Therefore, my classmates thought that embarrassing me by exaggerating the difficulty of my name or because of the attire I occasionally wore to school was a source of entertainment.

In addition to this, it is safe to say that my appearance was, um… a little different. I was extremely tall, scrawny, and my eyes were practically bulging out of my face. Of course, I still contain some of these physical qualities, but puberty played a huge role in solidifying my overall look.

But at the time, these physical characteristics gave my peers a field day. The jokes were repetitive, yet, never-ending.

Initially, it was hard to see the brighter side of things when people were constantly reminding me that I was unlike them – in whatever way they felt necessary. Due to this, I kept to myself and I limited myself to one friend per school year. But soon, I realized that there was more to me than what others thought.

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Most would think that being teased and being shy is a gateway for diffidence and insecurity, but for me, it eventually resulted in self-discovery. I became a person that had to learn to love herself.

I quickly began to understand that no one can fill an internal void. It was up to me to make myself happy.

Fortunately, the experiences I encountered were not permanently scarring, rather they helped me grow as a person and gain a new sense of identity and confidence. Thankfully, I was able to take the teasing I received and transform it into inner strength, instead of allowing it to make me incapable of flourishing.

Now that I am a college student at a large university, I have witnessed how easy it is to get lost in the mix of things, or even within oneself. Never at any point in my life have I felt more confident and ambitious than now, and my past played a huge part in my growth.

Every day I am learning that the world is a large, intimidating place that I am more than capable of conquering. There is inspiration everywhere, and it is made available for people like me to take advantage of. At this point in my life, I have decided to be happy with myself and accept the fact that I am love who I am.

Inner confidence is honestly the best feeling I have ever withheld. The journey to obtaining this gift was a long one that consumed a large chunk of my life, but I am thankful for every experience that contributed in me becoming who I am.

Of course, I still have insecurities and weaknesses like everyone else, but now I do not allow it to diminish who I am or affect how I interact with others.

With the new attitude and care-free demeanor that I now uphold, I believe that I am ready to move forward and face all obstacles ahead of me without the approval or consent of others.

 

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