Nah…I was very far from that actually. My hair was always very “due” with the un-retouched patches (called ‘ajakolokolo’ back then), lining the front of my hair line, or burned to my scalp with clumps of liquid glued to my scalp, caused by harsh relaxers on my tender scalp.
I was the girl with the really bad cough who drew disgusted and weird looks from classmates, strangers and even earned the name ‘Croaker Fish’ from my family members as a result of the frog-like sounds my cough caused me to make.
I was the girl who wasn’t popular in any way, and always managed to make first friends with the weirdest people in class, and so got tagged ‘Weirdo’ myself. Or maybe I was just weird.
I was the girl whose grades were extremely bad and had to repeat classes twice, due to the fact that I was just not interested in anything being taught in class…well, except Literature that is. Thank God I was really young for my class in the first place; otherwise I might have just been entering University by now!
I was the girl who always wanted to be in the funky groups of girls, ‘Bubblers’ they were called back then, but was a little bit too weird and caught up in uncool things to be invited to join the pack. My desire didn’t go unnoticed by them and earned me the horrendously embarrassing title ‘Okoro wanna Bubble’.
Seeing that I’m trying to stop myself right now from crawling under my desk and NEVER emerging, after I’ve revealed all these deep, dark secrets to you, I think I’ll get back to my ‘Cool’ self now and proceed with this Article.
Well aware of all my flaws, inadequacies and bundles of Rejection, I withdrew to the safest and most glamorous place I had ever known – My Mind.
In my mind, I could be ANYBODY I wanted to be.
I was the Chief of all the ‘Bubblers’ and could banish whichever of them I found even the slightest fault with, at any time I chose.
I was the sonorous Songstress with the silky voice that had never had even the slightest hint of a cough in all the days of her life.
I was the brilliant student who was adored by all her classmates and Teachers, and was referred to as the Model Student by everyone.
I was the epitome of all things glorious and the most beautiful creature my grandiose Imagination could project.
In my head, I loved myself…or rather; I loved all the people I could be besides myself!
I could lie in the dark for hours on end, conjuring up scenarios upon scenarios of Me, the Grand Heroine of La-la land, getting up to whatever it is I wanted. If I watched a movie or saw someone I thought was ‘Cool’ do something I considered remarkable, I would capture the image in my head and re-enact it over and over in my Quiet Solitude, only that this time, I would be the one doing the ‘cool’ thing.
I lived a Dual Reality. I say ‘Reality’, because in those moments in which I was completely wrapped up in my Fantasy, there was nothing on the other side that could’ve been more real than whatever I was seeing.
My Fantasy world became for me a Recluse; a Center for Retreat; a place where I made the rules and was always completely in control. In this place no-one and nothing could touch me. I was INVINCIBLE.
It became such a part of my consciousness that through my teenage and even sometimes in my adult life, I unknowingly responded to confrontation, hardship or discomfort by retreating into my ‘Safe Place’.
Slowly, my Realities began to get mixed up. I could hardly differentiate what was on this side and what was the fruit of my Imagination. The power of my mental creations was so strong that it completely de-sensitized me to what was going on this side of Reality.
There are so many things that have happened in my past that if you ask me now, I’d say that I felt absolutely nothing when they happened; break-ups, deep betrayals that could have broken other people, and even the passing away of my Father.
I felt absolutely nothing when these happened, because I immediately substituted realities and thus, protected myself from the pain of the situations.
Over the course of time, series of events and a new Love got me to slowly begin to glimpse and accept the Me whom I was always trying to escape from.
For the first time in my life, I actually began to like the sound of my own voice; I appreciated the width of my nose, the smallness of my breasts and the coarseness of my hair.
For the first time, I found the company of my own presence entirely fascinating and looked forward to spending time alone. I began to laugh loudly at my own jokes; not the recycled version of someone else’s, but my very own twisted, dry jokes. I found myself amazingly funny.
I began to appreciate my quirks; found value in my perspectives, and suddenly, wasn’t afraid to confront a situation head-on, whether or not I was laughed out of the room or scorned.
Then a remarkable thing happened: because my eyes were for the first time open to life within the framework of mine and other people’s experience, I began to feel the suffering of others.
I began to notice the pain lurking behind the well-penciled eyes, and arrogant swagger of even the most glamorous of people. I began to hear the voice of discontent that rang out from the ‘Whoops’ being screamed by the seemingly happy people.
Then I began to confront old hurts, old pain. Three years after my father’s death, I finally felt the stirring of grief. And cried so hard I felt my heart had been shredded to pieces.
Deep into my Adulthood, I was finally being birthed. The Child I never knew emerged from the cocoon I had placed her and now couldn’t wait to explore the wonders of the waiting World.
She discovered colors; she discovered tastes; she discovered serenity and the pleasures of Music and Art. She discovered people, and the beauty of genuine fellowship.
She discovered Life and gleefully realized she no longer needed to hide.
Her Imagination became the fuel for her passion; it was no longer the luxury prison that had held her captive like a lonely tower.
She found herself. It was love at first sight.
Now she believes; now I am FREE.
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