I remember in high school I had terrible pimples. I was advised to use salt, chili pepper and even brown shoe polish. I was desperate, so I tried it all. I cannot tell you how much pimples and uneven skin tone dents ones self-confidence. I’m sure some of you would know something about this. It is terrible to say the least. I have no problem with my complexion, but honestly, which face product doesn’t promise a fair complexion these days?
I was a server at church between 1999 and 2006. One day I had an outbreak of pimples and didn’t want to go to church. I wore a hat thinking it would hide my ugly face. It was even worse when I started gaining weight in Grade 9. Just before the annual school pageant called Miss Spring; I started gaining weight. I honestly wanted to enter the pageant with all of me; but I lost confidence due to the weight gain and unashamedly people around me often reminded me of it. I’ve always had big buttocks even when I was a size zero, but when I started gaining weight, everything was just exaggerated. The gods of beauty had surely turned their backs against me.
There were so many changes in my body which I could not explain. I had been thin all my life and suddenly started gaining weight. Now I was known as Ntando the chubby girl when in the past I was known as the dark beauty. Most of my clothes didn’t fit anymore and I couldn’t afford to buy any. Yes, I refer to myself instead of my parents.
I was asked to stop attending dance classes because my parents couldn’t afford them anymore and they didn’t understand this expensive sport which gave us trophies instead of money as a prize. I had to stop because I also couldn’t fit into the pair of jeans I always wore when we went to dance competitions outside of town. Perhaps this also contributed to my weight gain because I wasn’t so active anymore.
Whenever we had open day at school, I’d stick to my uniform because I just didn’t have that variety to choose from anyway. Deciding to start dressing up would mean I had to constantly do it every time we had events at school. To this day, I hate my matric dance.
I used to be an A student but when I got to high school, my marks started to drop. I became just the average girl although there would be a few teachers who would recognise the greatness in me. I managed to prove myself in my matric year and went further to do the same in University. Although I still continued to be affected by my weight, I soon learned to be comfortable as I met many ladies at Res who were just so comfortable in their big bodies. Honestly, I wasn’t overweight but compared to what I had been before I gained weight, I surely was noticeably big. I lost weight in matric towards the end of the year and I received quite a lot of compliments. I later gained that weight when I got to Varsity and I used to dread going home because I’d be reminded of how much weight I had gained. Trust me, I still get reminded when I go home, which is so ridiculous because my weight has been the same for the past 4 years. One time, a relative (yes) started a rumour that I was pregnant. When I got home and they saw my beautiful figure, she decided to tell people that I had an abortion. It was quite an eventful life, and still continues to be, to this day.
So young lady, you see someone smiling, and think they have it all together; trust me, there’s a lot of behind the scenes crying, pain and suffering. Giving credit to my background for who I am because had it not been such a difficult one, I probably wouldn’t have been able to build that callus which would shelter me when needed. I had to learn from a very young age to be independent and come to the realisation that if I don’t do it myself, no-one will ever do it for me. Whenever people complain about growing up and that they wish they could be young again; I always just laugh because no part of me wishes to be young again. At least now I know I depend on myself.
So young lady reading this; or even gentleman, do know that your fate is in your hands. You make things happen for yourself. When you are told that there will be challenges on your way to achieving a goal, never take that for granted because even your friend reminding you how difficult a task you have decided to take is, know that it is an obstacle on its own. Never be deterred. Remind yourself what the ultimate goal is. You go from nothing to something.
I remember I got a job in my second year of Varsity and later went to further pay for my Masters degree because I knew that I could suffer then, so that I could make it later.
Looks don’t matter much. The number of guys that ask you out because they validate how beautiful you are, shouldn’t matter. The number of likes on facebook and Instagram should not be what you strive for in life. Asking your boyfriend to show you how much of a man he is by giving you a girlfriend’s allowance should not even form part of your plans. Allowing people to dictate how you should feel about certain things, should be gotten rid of. ‘I cannot’ shouldn’t even form part of your vocabulary nor your thought process. You are fortunate these days because information is in your hand. At school you have subjects that can help with your well-being. Although we cannot put so much responsibility on just one teacher, you need to take responsibility for your life; use all the resources available to you. Remember that you aren’t always responsible for what happens to you, but you are responsible for how you react to it. Don’t let every negative thing affect you. Choose your battles wisely.
Understanding that at times a person would attempt to belittle you simply because they are trying to feel better about themselves; is the ultimate. Insults are the last resort of insecure people with a crumbling position trying to appear confident. Never let their dented egos dictate how you should live your life. We live in a society where the dignity you are afforded is determined by your bank balance or how beautifully naked you are. Don’t go with the wind. You have no control over the kind of home you come from, but your future is yours; take all control and stop blaming everyone around you for everything that goes wrong in your life. This is your journey; travel it well.
Do not disregard people and their pain. Know that everyone has difficulties in life. Just because they are always smiling and seem to have it together, doesn’t mean that their life is all perfect.
People should matter, but more than anybody else, you matter the most. No human being is an island but you need to know that you have to live with all the decisions you make. You need to make good ones.
My testimony bears testament to the fact that it can be done. I’m absolutely not where I’d like to be, but looking back; I have realised how strong a woman I am. Strength, wit, and courage should always strike deeper than your own consciousness.