I’m really excited about today’s post. When I asked my friend, Funmi if she had something to share, she replied me with a “Of course, I’m albino. I definitely have something to share. When reading her story, I was so moved, I almost cried. Funmi is a 400L student of English, at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. I met her while in school. She has such an amazing voice! It sounds like silk. You wouldn’t want her to stop singing. But she at some point had to go through all these, because of her looks. Below is Funmi’s story of her albinism, insecurities and journey to confidence.
“I am an albino and for a large part of my existence so far, I have felt insecure. I had a strong feeling of being less in comparison with others. To me, my hair was not beautiful. I wanted it black or at least, brown.
I used to wait patiently for my entrance into the university, because I had plans to change any visible traits of my albinism. On getting to school, I unsurprisingly found it really hard to fit in. I remember telling myself “Funmi, this is your skin and you can’t trade it for someone else’, so you just have to live with it. As soon as you get the chance, dye your hair and you would feel better. Moreover, what’s the use of make up if not for a time like this? You would just be fine.”
I didn’t really go out to meet people because I felt I was the last person someone would walk up to. I didn’t want to punish myself unnecessarily. Also, I had a phobia of walking alone in the midst of people. My legs would be noticeably shaking and to reduce the shaking, I would look down so as to shun off all the eyes staring at me. I totally disliked people staring at me or asking me questions like “Why do your eyeballs move so much” or “Eehya! Can you see me well?” or “Ehya! This your own albino is fine o. Do you eat salt?” or “Oyinbo pepper, can I touch your skin?” etc. The day I had to walk alone to my hostel on the first week of resumption, I could literally feel the eyes of numerous fresh men, walking on that path, cutting through my skin. I felt dizzy and almost fell. I had to look for a place nearby to sit till the crowd reduced.
I was only close to being my best when around my family or close friends and I spoke very little in public. However, because I loved to sing and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that, I had to close my ears to whatever people had to say or what I felt they said about me.
I am also short sighted. As a result, some people would make faces at me and would ask with laughter stained with sarcasm and slight mockery “Can you see me?” Some would make signs at me and ask if I could see what they were doing. They treated me as though I was blind. A guy even said outrightly to me once that he is allergic to albinos standing at his front.
The sad part of that season of my life was that, although some would pass compliments, saying such things like “Oh my God! She is so beautiful!”, “I really love your eyes. You have a beautiful smile. I love the way you talk. I love the way you walk” and so on. By default, I would classify them as trying to be nice. No matter how sincerely it was said, I just couldn’t believe it. Sometimes I would say “I know beauty is somewhere in me cause everyone in my family is good looking. If not for this complexion, I would have been so beautiful.”
Over the years, one of the things I’ve learnt about redemption from a low self-esteem is association. On the second week of my resumption into the university. I met two guys, who both wanted me to be a member of their churches. One of them, Mathew helped me with my course registration and anytime we talked, he spoke as though there was something intriguing and special about me. He spoke a lot about God’s love for me and would occasionally pass sincere compliments about how long and beautiful my hair is. He would tell me to flaunt it a little longer before fixing. In the midst of a crowd, he would hold my hand and we would walk together. After which, he would give me an high five. In no time, walking in a crowd became easy. At first, I was wondering what he was up to but eventually, I joined his church, KingsWord and I was afforded the opportunity of being around people who constantly showed me love and care. They would say such things to me like “you look beautiful.” My pastor Dapo, especially, would say “Hi miss Coleman, the beautiful lady, how are you today?” Although all these kind of felt creepy at first, it was rewiring so deep seated notions in me.
Also, I heard from the pulpit how God is obsessed with me and how beautiful and perfect He has made me. Gradually, I began to look into people’s eyes and when church folks call me “the white lady”, it felt like a compliment and I felt proud to say “that’s me.”
As for the other guy, Joshua, I didn’t attend his church but we were good friends. He would talk to me about scriptures and made me read it for myself. I began to see myself through God’s eyes and unconsciously it began to build my self-esteem. Joshua was so good to me. He didn’t care about what people said. His attitude made another guy friend of his request for my number and ask if he could hang out with me whenever Joshua was unavailable. I had to ask Joshua if the guy drinks and it was then I realized myself that I had changed.
Now, my friends complain that I look in the mirror too much. But it’s not my fault. It’s like I see something different and beautiful every day. Like a revelation of what has always been there and my friends have been trying to make me see. Now, I see it and I can’t stop smiling and saying to myself “Girl, you are so beautiful!”
God changed everything in my first year in school. He surrounded me with great friends and positive words – all of which helped open my eyes to see the real me.
Hey guys, still feeling low about how you look? You shouldn’t. Sometimes, I wonder what people born with albinism, dwarfism, facial deformities or living with sicknesses such as vitiligo, go through. I have put all of these together because they are things you don’t have a control over. Life sometimes doesn’t give you choices. Funmi’s story has however given me an inkling into this and taught me that even if you don’t have a choice, you can still rock your world with what you have. Thank you so much Funmi. God bless you.
Did you learn anything? Can you relate with Funmi’s story? Then, let’s hear it by dropping comment box below. Now, let’s do this together, put your hand on your chest, call your name and say slowly to yourself “You is beautiful. You is smart. You is confident”. Remember to put your name first. How do you feel? Okay, keep doing that. Till later, bye.