- Foreword: This post was written by a friend of mine who craves anonymity and would rather be referred to by the pseudonym “Dot”
I love this piece, not only because it is hilarious —and it really is —but also because it rings with truth and is relatable; the subject-matter being something a lot of us have had to deal with at one time or another, and as such can identify with.
I do hope Dot rants again, not only because she is interesting to read, but also because she knows how to pass a message. And with this piece, the message is clear as day…
Thu, Jun 19, 2014
Hi, My name is DotDotDot —Dot for short. And I’m not really an alien. This is not my story. No, it is only a very small part of it, and I was careful to leave out all the fun sub-parts in this small part, just so you can get the point.
As I grew up, I realized that one of the hardest things a child has to deal with is trying to stand out and to fit in at the same time. Some succeed of course, some don’t even have to try (they are the perfect human expression of ‘born of laughter, born of cheer; happiness has brought you here’*). This is not (probably for the first time) about these ones, but about the ones who honestly tried, but failed.
Trying to gain acceptance is the most difficult thing. And what’s worse is that when they fail the effects are far reaching and often devastating. Now, not everyone Is going to be suicidal; some just have to leave with scars and most times have to continue experiencing and dealing with their ‘sore thumb’ state for the rest of their days, and honestly, I don’t know which is worse.
Growing up, I was one of the ‘Group C’ kids (as they will be referred to in this piece) and It wasn’t easy at all. Don’t get me wrong, I have loving parents and an amazing family whom I will not trade for the world, but they have had their shortcomings, which is to be expected as they are not extra-terrestrial. But most times, it felt like everything I did wasn’t good enough. Everyone that came around was somehow better than me. I was always the one who had to “look at how she does it…You should try harder.” And then as the visitors got younger in age, naturally I had to “give it up…she’s younger than you, Agba’ya”; even if that particular thing meant the world to me.
For a long time, I thought I was adopted, which looking back now, was quite ridiculous considering the crazy semblance I bear to my father and mother (don’t ask me how; I don’t know). It was all part of growing up, or so I thought.
When I got into secondary school, it only got worse. Lord knows why I even thought otherwise in the first place. You didn’t mean shit if you didn’t have the protection of or belong to a school family, and that also translated into plenty ‘sufferhead’. The boarders amongst you might understand. Getting a school mother, however, meant that you have to be 1st-position-kind-of-smart, adorably cute; had to have long hair your SM could run her fingers through when she was bored, have a shitload of provisions for both of you to gorge yourselves and her friends on, or at least super-rich parents who came all the time to visit the ‘both’ of you.
As expected, I was none of those things —though I was smart (still like to think I am). I sported the boys’ haircut (popularly known as skodo or skin-cut) for most of my formative years, never brought more than one set of provisions to school at one time, and let’s just say my parents weren’t regulars at the school’s visiting day (they came at other, totally unexpected times). So with my list of qualities, or lack of them, I was naturally a bottom feeder, until I fought my way to the top…which was around the time I became a prefect. At the time, I had started to gain weight, part of which, coupled with life’s unavoidable let-downs, was my undoing.
As expected, it got worse, and pretty annoying as time went by. All the “Aww, look at your friend, she’s so cute and so tiny. Why are you so fat? You should start jogging.’ And the ‘so so so is so nice, why are you so mean?’;just because you do not want to cuddle a fellow girl, really got under my skin. What was worse, I had started to believe them, and from then on, it got really bad. I cried myself to sleep several times, sometimes for no apparent reason at all other than the fact that I was just tired. You talk to people about it, but they just can’t understand. Then they conclude that you complain too much or start to act funny, so you learn to just keep quiet.
I once tried to talk to a self acclaimed psychologist and because it wasn’t rape or some other gory case of abuse, she concluded my case wasn’t serious or was probably a waste of her precious psychologist time. For a long time, I wanted to punch her in the face every time I saw her. But then she facilitated my first (and only ride till date) in a limo and well, let’s just say all was forgiven.
At the time I got into university, I had found a way of dealing with the constant castigation from teachers, friends, foes, the guy on the TV, random citizen on the street, even myself; dealing never ending blows to what had become a fragile self-esteem, cracked by constant comparison to everything/one else. I shut up when I had to, snapped when I didn’t have that luxury or zoned out when I just couldn’t deal. Made friends, lost them, gained some more, still trying to get rid of some, while some will, if nothing bad happens, forever remain precious.
It got so bad I no longer expected much (still don’t) from any one person or even a group of people. Some have said it’s bad, I’m not entirely sure, but hey, it worked! Considering the type of personality I have (many of you humans will consider me a sanguine although I think what is troubling me won’t fit into any one box), it was extremely hard to do, but I managed to build up a fence with a ginormous gate which only I have the key to *muhahaha* while still maintaining a happy facade. But this came at a price. I used to be a very genuinely happy person, full of love with so much to give. I was, still am, blessed with a lot of talents many of which were so suppressed for fear of not meeting everyone’s standards that I find interest in them no more. I may have lost several chances at meeting some great people beyond acquaintanceship and these are but some of the many casualties of this war.
For someone with these kinds of issues, fear is a constant companion, and the inability to get rid of this unwanted shadow is in itself, damaging. This is definitely bad, and doubting your own abilities is assuredly, one of the most profoundly destructive things that can happen to anyone.
Now, I’m trying to deal with it all by confronting it a little at a time, but you will not believe how so very, extremely hard it is. Yes, I used so, very, and extremely so you know just how hard this business is. One thing which has kept me strong though, is my relationship with God. Now, this is not a religious piece, nor do I erroneously think that everyone believes in God or that He exists, but it’s true (what I said before). Having a friend who’s always on your team —good or bad —always helps, and for me, that friend just happens to be unseen to the human eyes.
While I am aware that some may think that this is just a self-unloading medium to rant and vent, you may be right, but admit it, some of you —most of you have felt or are feeling like I have felt. And I am also aware that a lot of people have gone through far worse —abuse in diverse forms, most of it horrible and some downright blood-curdling —and have survived it. I draw inspiration from these ones; maybe I am being a little presumptuous, but you would agree with me that that still doesn’t mitigate the effects these things have on the mind, health and on your life.
For fear of getting so personal as to directly sub some people who might read this (if ever), I will stop the story of my life here, and move on to my admonition for the day:
To parents (and as many who would want children someday); never EVER compare your kid to someone else: another sibling, the neighbour’s daughter, a cousin, a friend from school or a combination of any of these, in an effort not to make another person’s kid cry, at the expense of your own kid who is way too young to know that you do not actually mean it that way.
This goes for friends too; please and please, desist from asking people while they are not more like your other friends even if it’s a joke, especially when they’ve told you in their most serious tone that it is not a funny one. There is a reason why God made us all different. Constantly nagging your friends won’t change who they are, and chances are that thing you are complaining about has a story behind it. Stop being a (destructive) critic and just be a friend. And if you know that this is such an unachievable feat for you, simply quit the friendship. It’s never that serious.
And finally (the opinions of other classes of people with whom your relationship is more…ephemeral do not really matter, you would find.)
To others like me, I have tried a lot of things, but this has been working to a large extent: DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF. It’s true what they say: what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. Give yourself (and others) some ‘messing up’ allowance. Allow yourself to fail, but never stop trying. Let yourself dream, but never stop believing. Try to improve your opinion about yourself because in the end, the only person whose standards are worth living up to (apart from God’s, for those of us that really and truly believe in Him), is YOU.