Between the time I was in nursery school to primary 5, I wanted to be everyone else. I didn’t hate myself but I didn’t feel my life was that interesting. In primary 1 there was a guy in my class and though I cannot remeber his name, I wanted to be him. He was the guy everyone talked to and wanted to hang out with. He had rich parents, I could tell from his school sandals and wristwatches. My parents weren’t poor but they weren’t the “let’s go to US for summer” kind of rich. My self esteem was so low that when I got admission into a new school with a funny name (Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Model School Kubwa) I actually prayed to God to make me popular.
Between primary 4-6 I had a friend named Irewole and I so much wanted to be like him. He was the cool guy and also the smart guy. He would either come first, second or tie with a girl named Ojima. As for me the closest I came to his position was 5th and it was a tie with 10 other people! It was like my prayers werent answered. There was even a way he sat so I sat like that. My father would always tell me that “Irewole has the same brain as you” because he saw me do my very best acting, he even told me that till he died, I wonder if he knew that Irewole and I hadn’t spoken in years.
I can’t say what really changed but I know after primary 6 I didn’t want to be anyone else I wanted to be me. I loved my life. I didn’t want to be in Irewole’s clique or any clique for that matter, I wanted my own. So I got it (sort of). I couldn’t fight (at least I have never won the two fights I have been in so far in my life). I made up for it with my mouth and brash anger. I soon learnt that anger was bad for PR so I turned my mouth into an “insult in a joking way” kind of machine.
For some reason I would discover as I entered JS 3 that there were people who wanted to be not just like me but be me! I wondered and still wonder if they are human. Why would anyone want to be me? Although today my esteem is a lot better than it was but I still hate seeing my head in a picture cause it always looks long anyway that’s beside the point.
My point is this a lot of people don’t embrace who they are so they try to make up for it by
be-friending the popular girl or dating the popular guy, hitting the gym or burying themselves under a pile of library books that makes no sense to their sleep deprived brains. I have even heard of people who tactfully ensure that their friends do not date anyone so that they as ”ugly ducklings” won’t be alone and so they turn a company into a crowd and they do it so well that no one notices.
They take offence at trivial issues and hold grudges like the devil, vexed with God for throwing them out of heaven when he was given fine bodies and smart brains. Sometimes people with esteem issues have become so rigid in their façade that they don’t even know their esteem is tremendously low.
I always believed that God did not intend for all of us to be of the model font and size, neither for all of us to be book smart. I believe the key of good self esteem lies in what you have that others don’t.