A Diaspora Story: Accept yourself, Embrace yourself, Love yourself
I was using public transport in the western headquarters of the country (Kenya). The sun was saying goodbye and darkness was silently creeping in. This transition would be more exciting to a person in the western world, how the weather was or the time of sunset. Here, we talk of day and night. It was getting into the night. I informed the tout (makanga) that I was alighting at the next stop. His response baffled me. If you are in Kenya, you may have had a glimpse of how these people behave, most of them. I allow you to imagine for a moment, then come along for the dose I was forced to take.
We are unique. Purposefully crafted. Short and tall. Dark and light skinned. Different physiques. Name them all. We see others and desire what they have that we lack. This explains why some people will use lightening creams to look light. It also explains why some Europeans will go bath and lie in the sand to obtain some dark complexion. The latest news I read in this line is of a white lady transforming into an African woman. I saw the before and after images, she is getting there. No one will deny it if she picks S.Sudan as her home of origin. Google has it. This is my point, we don’t have it all. But what we have can serve us more than what we lack.
My story. I am soft spoken. I don’t know how to define this soft, but can make you imagine it. In my late twenties, some 5 year olds have louder voices than mine. When strangers call, they ask me to give the phone to any adult around. I remember ordering a food supplement online. On the day of delivery, the lady called to confirm that I still needed it. I picked the call and said I still needed it. She asked me to give the phone to my mother, because she had ordered a supplement. I insisted that I was the one. She asked me how old I was and laughed off when I responded. She hang up, I never received the supplement. She thought a kid was playing around. It is fine. I also get surprised when I listen to recordings of my speech, then sometimes pity those who listen to me. But I strive to be audible enough. Thank God for P.A. System.
Back to the tout in the first paragraph. It was my time to alight, but the vehicle did not stop. I reminded him that I was alighting. He was very angry. I will quote him; “Who are you talking to like that? Do you think I am here for seduction? Why are you ‘squeezing’ your voice? Why can’t you speak up?” I tried hiding my tears behind my glasses. The vehicle stopped. “This is a big woman wanting to talk like a child. She is even capable of becoming a mother! ” Still trying to hold my tears as I lighted, “I can even slap you, stupid girl!” My reflex didn’t let me down. I escaped the slap from this tout. For speaking softly to him. The saddest part of it? The women in the vehicle joined the men in criticizing how I talked, supporting that I am an adult and should talk like an adult.
This was not the first challenge I had with my voice, and I know it won’t be the last. It however gave me a bitter pill to swallow. No matter how much I cried and chose not to talk in public, I am soft spoken. It can be amusing to some, and annoying to others. The important question was whether or not I have accepted myself.
Focusing on what we lack blinds us from seeing the best we have. Consoling myself, I told me that some people are dumb. They can’t even talk. I can talk. I can see. I can do every possible thing that the physically challenged could need help doing. Reminding myself of all the great things I have wiped away my tears. There is more to be grateful for.
I don’t know you. I don’t know what you think you lack. I don’t know what you desire to have that you were not created with. But this I know, there was no mistake made in creating you. Accepting how you were created is thanking the creator for you. He made you in His image. You are His wonderful creation.
If still you were not born like that, but circumstances like accidents or sickness got you there, it is not the end of life. Accept that. Accept you. Focus on every good part of you and people will hardly notice what you think is a miss. Forgiving those who’ll make you feel low will be easy when you accept yourself. Don’t take them too serious. They are just ignorant.
When you accept yourself, people will easily accept you. Work on your character. Better your skills, be competent. Develop yourself as much as you can. When you have something to offer, nobody pays attention to what you look like or how tall or dark you are. You may encounter rejection here and there, but not always. It is not easy, but the best you can give yourself is self-acceptance. No whining. No complaining. Only gratitude for what you are, and hard work to get where you want to be.
Accept yourself. Embrace yourself. Love yourself. Impossible is nothing!
By Liz Ekakoro:Diaspora Messenger contributor