When I was a child I had this top I loved so much. My mum got it for me. It was a white top but it had some typography in blue. It read: You Can Call Me Your Highness.
I loved to wear it because it made me feel like royalty. Every time I wore it, people would call me “Your Highness” and I loved it. I was a little girl who already had developed an inferiority complex.
Growing up as a diagnosed sickle cell patient was no jolly ride. I was smaller in size than my younger sister and smaller in stature than my mates. I could never play a lot like my friends or participate in lots of kids’ activities. The few times I tried, I ended up in the hospital. I always felt like less of a person, but never when I had the top on. The top was like a mask for me, an invisible cloak draped over my insecurities, and all that was allowed to shine through was confidence, boldness and pride.
I soon grew out of the top and it hurt that I couldn’t wear it anymore. I was no longer special. I wasn’t royalty anymore. No one would call me Your Highness again. I was sad. My only chance of ever feeling on top of the world was gone, my mask was gone.
As I got older I put on another mask, this time it wasn’t a piece of clothing but an attitude. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin or proud of my body. In junior secondary school, I was the “always jovial, very friendly but no-nonsense taking” girl. I was small in stature but my mouth was my weapon. You could never get one over me. Anyone who made me feel small, intentionally or not, got a tongue lashing.
In senior secondary school, I developed a leg ulcer. It was bad enough that I was small and looked sickly; I now had two open sores on my right leg. I could no longer wear shoes and some other kinds of clothing. My self-esteem issues skyrocketed.
In my church, they coined a nickname for me. Superwoman. And what was my superpower? Putting people in their place. Most times I did it in an unpleasant manner. I could no longer dress the way I wanted so I had to find another way to express how I felt. I started making crazy colour hairdos. Colours like pink, blonde, red, blue, wine, etc. All of these things I did were ways to make people feel like I didn’t care about anything or anyone, I was my own boss and I loved me. In reality, though, I was scared. I didn’t want anyone taking advantage of me because of my size or my condition. I didn’t want anyone to think they could walk over me and get away with it.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had put on a mask that was not so charming. And the sad part was it didn’t make me feel any better about myself. It only made some people stay away from me.
Inferiority complex is defined as an unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere. It is sometimes marked by aggressive behaviour in compensation. This was me and this is a lot of people.
Inferiority complex can be caused by a number of things such as body weight/shape, height, physical appearance, social class and so many others.
Inferiority complex is a state of mind that leaves a person feeling trapped, incomplete and inadequate. Some symptoms of inferiority complex include social withdrawal, demeaning others, extreme sensitivity, attention seeking, amongst others. For someone to overcome this deep-seated psychological condition is no easy task.
The roots of this problem lie in the past, in an event or a series of events that have left a deep scar on the affected individual’s mind. This complex has then become a type of defence mechanism against all kinds of problems and situations. For such people to even accept that they may be suffering from an inferiority complex is extremely painful and difficult.
Overcoming an inferiority complex requires:
Overcoming an inferiority complex begins with an acceptance of the situation as it is, of the individual as he or she is. Acceptance marks the beginning of a change that will slowly help eliminate the problem. Acceptance also involves accepting that one is unique. This again may take a while, but will ultimately be set in the mind and bring about a positive change.
While it may sound easy, being positive is actually something as challenging as climbing Mount Everest for someone who has an inferiority complex. Someone who is conditioned to thinking poorly about themselves is going to find everything about ‘positive thinking’ ridiculous. However, like a dose of injection is given at regular intervals for someone who is unwell, so is a regular dose of positive thinking required for someone who has an inferiority complex. Reading good books on positive thinking, or just being with people who are positive, on a daily basis, can slowly bring about a difference. Also, on your part, highlighting the positive in every situation is important.
In my own case, it took three surgeries and the realization that life, and living, was more important than anything else. I came to terms with the fact that there were some things I could not change or control no matter how hard I tried. I realized that I didn’t need anyone else’s approval except mine and God’s. It became apparent to me that things happen for a reason and God always comes through at the right time. I figured that I didn’t need to wear a mask to make people like me or demean people to make myself feel better.
To anyone who’s reading this and is battling some form of complex, I just want you to know that you are not alone. You are loved. You are unique. You are special. Whatever it is that you think makes you inferior to anyone else is actually the thing that makes you inimitable and outstanding. Whatever situation or condition you are facing now will soon become your “5 loaves of Bread and 2 Fishes.” So let go of all your inhibitions and come into your own. You are royalty, your highness!
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