For a really long time, if anyone would ask me what I loved about myself, I’d always say “nothing”. Growing up, I felt like I didn’t belong and that I was worthless. Academically, I usually performed fine. But even with that, I felt inferior. For most of my childhood, I was called a boy because I cut all of my hair and looked so much like my dad. One time, while I was out with my mum, I went to use the washroom and a girl said to me, “What are you doing in the girls’ washroom. Bad boy!”.
I was crushed; I cried out of the washroom and ran to my mother. She tried to make it seem positive, because I was a “daddy’s girl”. But it did not work.
When my hair grew, I was laughed at and made fun of because my hairline was shaped like a man’s. I was devastated, so I shaped my hairline myself. I soon regretted this decision because if anything, it made my appearance look worse. I never had the courage to tell my mother the actual reason I shaved parts of my hairline, so she was very confused. Any time she’d ask, my answer was always “I don’t know”. I felt bad for her because a mother’s worry is very strong.
When I got to Form4 (10th Grade), I started preparing towards the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). My subject choices started getting harder with time, and I started failing in a few of them. I hadn’t failed in my academics until this point; I felt heartbroken because it was not who I was. This started to make me feel depressed because I felt like I was losing myself and what made my parents proud of me.
For two years, I felt bad about myself and was filled with so much doubt. I never believed in myself. I kept thinking I was being teased so that I’d fall into disgrace and embarrassment. At any random moment, I could cry my heart out without any particular reason, but mainly because I didn’t like myself and my appearance. With this, I became shy and lost my self-confidence.
It was after my IGCSE that I opened up to my parents about how I really felt about myself because one night, I cried so much and that was my biggest cry. I was glued to my bed; I couldn’t get up. I didn’t know what to do, so I texted my mother to come to my room because there was something wrong with me. She barged in and looked so worried. I told her everything. She also called my father and my grandmother as well. With a lot of consoling words, I was slowly starting to feel better about myself.
That night, I realized I had done a lot of damage to myself by putting down my appearance. I grew a sudden confidence, knowing I have a strong support system behind me who loved me and my appearance unconditionally. Today, when I look back at being called “a boy”, I just laugh. I ended up getting a distinction in my IGCSE, and now I’m very motivated to do better in my future exams and not give up. With all this, I’ve learnt to love myself and appreciate who I am.
Since then, I’ve told myself, “I am unique”, “I am who I am”, "I am worthy and great" and “I have a purpose in this world” to build my self-confidence. These sayings may not work immediately, but once you say them consistently and unconditionally, you begin to truly believe in what you’re saying; this will make a huge difference, as it did for me.
TeenzTalk's Blog is here to amplify youth stories and perspectives on topics including personal challenges, self-care practices, initiatives in their community, and more.