Some months ago, Ayomide put up a picture of herself on her Whatsapp story and captioned it ‘layers and layers of insecurity, self esteem issues and depression …’ She went on to write about how she couldn’t smile back in the day because someone had said her smile was ugly and all that.
When I read the post, my first impression was ‘what?!!! How could Ayomide ever, have been insecure about her looks?!’ I mean, this girl is hot! She is the kind of lady who would walk past you and you’d take a second look. Why? Because Ayomide is beautiful, has an aura of joy that oozes from her and she dresses well. Damn!
Beyond her looks however, I have always known Ayomide again as someone with an intense drive for knowledge. She was the junior colleague back in Uni, who would always bring to me questions from courses that she didn’t understand, looking for ways to learn; always looking to grow. Ayomide was also very enterprising and seemed to have mapped out the direction she wanted to follow career-wise, very early.
So hearing about the insecurity issues made me so curious and I asked her to share her story with us, following the theme of this year’s project, Beyond the Surface. I really enjoyed putting this story together and hope that it inspires you as much as it’s inspired me.
My insecurities stemmed from hearing angry words about how bad I was, how I will never be enough and how I’d not make it in life. I heard these negative words day in and out.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a skinny person – something a lot of people seemed to have an opinion about. Most of these opinions were bad, of course, and I constantly heard things like ‘lepa, you wan break’, ‘them no dey feed you’, etc.
The worst of these experiences happened one sunny afternoon on my way back from school when someone, a random person stopped me to ask if I was infected with HIV/AIDS just because I was skinny. That experience scarred me for a long time and made me feel worthless and unwanted. Throughout secondary school, because I was on low cut, I only saw myself as the skinny girl with a big head, long neck that looked sick and could break anytime. It never crossed my mind that I was pretty. I just did not like myself for anything. I did not like how my head was shaped, how my hands were or how my feet were (I remember calling them ‘elephant feet’ because I thought they were fat.). There was absolutely nothing I liked about myself. In fact, I could count the number of times I heard the word ‘fine girl’ used to describe me as a teenager.
To make matters worse, I was socially awkward and had no friends at all. So, I kept to myself a lot. I was the kind of kid who would sit in her desk and eat whatever she asked anybody to buy for her rather than go out on lunch breaks to actually get herself a meal and spend time with other people. This attitude made people think of me as awkward in addition to my skinny, ugly girl profile.
Junior secondary school was hell. I had to watch over my shoulders every time just to make sure people weren’t talking about me. I tried fitting into different groups so that I could have friends to fight off the jesters whenever they attacked me but I just did not fit into any group. I was a solo rider till senior secondary school when suddenly I decided to layer up on the insecurities and distract myself from all the worthlessness I had been made to believe.
Instead of healing normally, I became a rebel. I cut my skirt to make it super short and tight, made my low cut really funky – Anita Baker style and wore makeup to school even though it was against the law. I even made a family friend give me his Toms shoes (Toms were the deal then and I was the only one wearing them in the whole school).
Against what I was used to, I started getting people’s attention and a lot of them started admiring me, I moved from being regarded as socially awkward to being the biggest girl in the whole of SS1. That made me feel really good – to see that people now thought better of me.
However, this feeling was short-lived. It lasted only until guys started chasing after girls with obvious boobs and ass. I really wanted to stay in Vogue but I was a skinny girl with a flat chest and behind, so to make me look busty, I started wearing 3 bras to school and it worked. I made the list of the busty girls when I got to SS2. I got the attention I wanted but even then, I still felt insecure about anything and everything. I still watched over my shoulders and I still wanted everything or everyone that could make me feel good about myself. There was just this endless search for security and self-worth.
Few years later, I gained admission into OAU. I was sixteen years old at the time, vulnerable and with lots of insecurities. At this point, I had tried taking my life three times. I got into school with the hope of starting all over again but I still wasn’t dealing with the insecurities and self-worthlessness that I felt. I also didn’t want to admit I felt that way about myself so I threw myself helplessly into activities that could distract me.
By now, I had already joined a church and made new friends. When I was with people, I was happy but whenever I was alone, I’d feel terribly sad and worthless. I knew I had to deal with this feeling, I just did not know how. I spent my first year trying to figure out and sort my issues myself, whilst also depending on a guy who took advantage of my insecurity and vulnerability.
In my second year, I admitted I needed help. I still did not know where to get it but I had been in church enough times to hear about God’s love and how it’s able to heal. One day, I thought to myself, ‘if I fill my heart with God’s love as they have taught, maybe I’d get better’, because at this point, it wasn’t just insecurities I was struggling with. It had grown into depression and suicidal thoughts.
In this church where I grew and still a member of till this day, I had amazing friends who were genuinely happy and reminded me constantly about how much God loves me and how my lot is success because I’m a child of God. Of course the insecurities and depression did not just go away overnight because I had great friends and I exposed myself to agape, I had to stay consistent in reminding myself that I was loved by God and had to consciously delete every negative thought of worthlessness I had taken in over the years by reminding myself of how much God thinks about me and His promises for me in the Bible.
By my third year in the university, I realized that I was totally comfortable in my skin. I bought A-cup sized bras and just did not care that I was flat chested. In fact, I loved my body more because I now loved myself and no longer felt worthless. I remember secretly admiring myself and telling myself I was beautiful. The moment I began to see myself as such, the whole world just seemed to agree with me and began admiring me more. It dawned on me then that only I have the permission to make anybody feel a certain way about me.
God’s word healed me. His love promises healed me and having the right people around me who reminded me of God’s love and my secured future also helped me get over my insecurities. I did not stop confessing God’s love when I felt better. I still confess it and remind myself every day that God has a beautiful future for me. That singular thought fills my life with purpose and makes me feel like I’m living for something amazing. And truly, I am.
A couple of years ago, I opened a blog for my creative writing and random thoughts and it’s been amazing. (Please note that writing had always been there for me all along, I just was too preoccupied with being sad and discontent with my body that I totally forgot to utilize that potential.) I started writing, found that I loved it and invested in it. From running my blog, I began to pursue an even deeper relationship with God. The more I knew of God, the more satisfaction it gave me; the more peace I had; the more my life had meaning. Sometime later, God gave me a dream to birth and nurture ‘Herfortitudo’. It started off as a blog where I talk to young, growing girls about God but has now grown beyond a blog into a fellowship in two universities.
All that from a girl who couldn’t see herself beyond being skinny or ugly and tried to take her life three times for it. Today, I see myself as a very beautiful woman who is taking on the world and will have all nations call her blessed in due time. I love everything about me. Yes, I’m working on being a better version of myself every day but I’m super comfortable in my skin and I now love my life because I see myself from God’s view concerning me.
Dear amazing lady, you are beautiful inside and out. You just need to focus on God’s love for you. You are also more than just a face, boobs or butt. There is so much locked up in you, so much greatness, if only you will take time out to actually meet yourself and enjoy your own company. God has amazing plans for you. So, desire to meet Him, to keep basking in His love, and to let that love reform you.
I loved and enjoyed reading every part of Ayomide’s story. I mean, her openness! Especially the part where she said she used to wear 3 bras to school just to make her boobs look bigger. I could relate with that because there was a time in secondary school when I too used to wear 2 bras – #teamsmallboobs! Ooh, and the part where she said she finally pursued her passion for writing, which had been dormant all along because she had been preoccupied with being sad about her body? I could relate with that too.
Ayomide’s story has taught me that beyond how we look, we have a purpose and if we get into a relationship with God, He’ll lead us in line with that purpose. I hope you took out a thing or two from reading, as well. If you did, please share with us in the comments. Also, if this story reminds you of your self-esteem experiences and you’d like to share yours too, please reach out to me. By the way, you can also find other ways to join or support our ongoing campaign here.
Till later, with love.