When I was seven years old, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t like what I saw. My wide nose, hooded eyes, big lips and frizzy hair. All the things which defined my identity as a Black woman. 

Everyone else around me had hair that flowed in the wind but mine had to always be braided so it looked ‘neater’. The endless arguments I had with my mother in the morning about how I wanted to let my hair down, when she had to explain to me my hair wasn’t straight nor was I white. All the other girls had delicate hands but mine looked ginormous next to theirs. 

I learnt to isolate myself. I thought, since I don’t fit in, I might as well enjoy my own company. 

I was the kid with only one friend at school. The kid who never got a card on Valentine’s Day. The kid who was never invited to birthday parties, nor, had anyone come to hers. On my 10th birthday, no one showed up to my party. I went knocking on my guests’ doors, reminding them my birthday was that afternoon. My only ‘best friend’ didn’t come. I only had my little brother to share my cake with.

Some perks came out of that, nevertheless. I was a top student throughout my whole education. Never got in trouble because I had no one to get in trouble with. Thanks to that, I also never got told off at home. My parents put all their hopes in me since my two siblings were not so obedient.

But something shifted when I turned 15. The ‘living ghost syndrome’ in me turned into a desperate need to be noticed. I was skipping school, and purposefully neglecting the things I so cared about before. Suddenly, my new friends’ interests were mine too. What I didn’t realise was that I went from being invisible to now living only in someone else’s shadows.

Even when I moved to the UK at 16, nothing changed. I was lost and I didn’t have enough self-actualization to reach out to someone and say ‘I need help. I am struggling.’ 

All I needed was someone to see me, see my pain.  I needed to see me and let myself know I was enough. 

I was online one day and stumbled upon a video called ‘life-changing books.’ I hadn’t read a book in over five years because ‘it wasn’t a cool thing to do.’ One of the recommended readings was Paulo Coelho’s book, ‘The Alchemist.’ I didn’t read it though. I found his other book, ‘The Pilgrimage’, through that instead.  And it changed my life.

Reading its passages, I came to the realisation that I was my biggest enemy. Every decision we make either pushes us towards our goals or pull us further away from them. Eating that KFC burger instead of broccoli, doing Netflix marathons instead of completing our assignments. 

We have the power to design our lives.

In a world where everything is nothing but perception, I projected my negative feelings about myself onto others. Why would have anyone wanted to be my friend if I wasn’t even my own friend? Why would have anyone wanted to love me when I couldn’t even love myself? Whatever you are inside, manifests in your physical reality. Make yourself the main actor in your life’s journey and love yourself a little more so that everything surrounding you becomes love too.