Becoming: From Wallflower to Belle of the Ball

Life is a journey, the parts of some are however more crooked than the others. I finished secondary school shortly before I turned 16. I made all my subjects in the WAEC and NECO Examinations except for mathematics.

Maths for me was a nightmare, My mum taunted me so much when my result came out she made it seem like I had F9 parallel. My Dad called me a bad investment.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are amazing, they have given blood, sweat and tears to see that I and my siblings have a good life. They struggled to send me to one of the big private schools in Abuja so that I could come out with nothing less than a stellar result.
By falling maths, I had failed them. I became depressed and I excommunicated myself from all my friends. I refused to take their calls because I felt like a failure, up till this day those bridges are still burnt.
Obviously I couldn’t gain admission that year, my Mum’s taunts that year drove me into a very dark place. I began to hate myself, I felt I was a failure and not deserving of the sacrifices they had made for me.
I convinced myself that I really was a bad investment. I remember cutting myself to punish myself for failing my parents.
I gained admission to Study Mass Communication the following year because I still didn’t make maths after taking GCE. I fell in love with Mass Communication and in my first year I was riding on a very strong 2.1. I was happy and at peace with myself.
In my second year, the demons came back and this time they brought friends. I began to hear voices, I hated coming out of the hostel because I felt everyone was talking about me. I began to have a very low self esteem and the worst part was that I couldn’t tell anyone.
I felt if I told my friends that I had a low self esteem they would use that as a yardstick for mocking me. I withdrew from everyone and kept to myself.
I felt that the clothes I wore were not good enough, I felt that people laughed at the way I walked.  I felt that people whispered when I passed. I stopped attending lectures, my room was my sanctuary. I was afraid to tell anyone what I was going through.
One day, my mum called saying that my cousin had a mental breakdown and she had been found muttering incoherently.
Then it hit me!  What I was going was not normal and I needed help or I was going to end up just like my cousin who people already labelled as “mad”.
I began to read a lot of self help books, Joel Osteen was my favorite. I began to gain some of my self confidence.
sometimes I would give myself goals like do something that would draw attention to me. For example I would  wear high  heels to class. I would go to public places and walk in when everyone could see me coming in.
To everyone else this might seem like normal activity but they were milestones for me.
I never told anyone about this, those two years were the darkest days of my life and I had to live them alone.
The thing about mental illness is that it’s not like malaria where you have a fever and people can sympathize with you. No one knows what you are going through, on the outside you look normal but inside you are a big bag of garbage.
My grades suffered during this time, I almost dropped down to a third class. I picked up with my academics in 400 level and  managed to leave with a 3.05 CGPA
My service year was a defining period for me,  I worked my service far away from home much to the chagrin of my parents. I did that because I wanted to find myself, I did not know who I was. I had no sense of identity, no sense of purpose.
That decision was the best decision I have ever made in my life, in this new place where no one knew me, I was able to start life on a clean slate.
I made new friends, got a part time job besides my regular PPA job because I did not want to give myself any opportunity to think negative thoughts. I was given many leadership positions sometimes being the only female Corp member assigned a position.
 I blossomed, I began to love myself, I began to spend my spare time going to secondary schools to mentor the students, I didn’t want any of those precious kids, I spoke about peer pressure, self confidence and celebrating uniqueness, I told them it was normal to be a late bloomer, I told them it was normal to be different. I spoke to girls especially, I saw myself in all of them.
School Principal’s would call me telling me they loved the talk and that they wanted me to come back and talk to all the kids in the school. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was so good about the talks but I went back anyways.
Those kids helped me find myself, I found out I had a flair for public speaking. ME? Public Speaking!
At the end of my service year, I won the award for the most popular Corp Member. Up till now I still get goosebumps when I look at that plaque, if only they knew how I use to hole myself up in a room for weeks because I was scared of what people will say. That same me was given a vote of popularity. Isn’t life grand?
I came back home after my service year stronger in body and mind. A month after I got home I got a job as a contract staff in a Radio station.
I left there a year later and moved to the print Newspaper, I did that because I wanted to focus on writing human interest stories and I wanted to horn my writing skills.
I have been at this place for a year, and I have grown so much on the job. The people I have met in the last one year,  the places I have been to even I still do not believe it.
People say I am connected, lol this is because I  have so many friends and mentors with the people society likes to call high and mighty.
 My friends are usually in this demographic because I understand more than anyone that people where masks to cover their vulnerabilities and I usually see right through them.
 So usually after an interview we hit it off like old chums  who have known each other all our lives. I am thankful for this people, they have been so supportive of me, from business/career advice to screening potential boos. Lol
I do volunteer work  with some NGO’s  and I mentor a lot of teenagers. I do not have the leading to have an NGO, I think God just wanted me to go through the dark part I did so that my moments of weakness can make others stronger.
I plan to get a Masters Degree in the nearest future, but right now I just started a PR/Advert Agency. I have always found the PR aspect of communication intriguing  so it is what I see myself doing in the long run.
I know this is not the conventional Career story like everyone else has been sharing, but I never shared this part of myself with anyone, now that I have it feels so liberating.
There are still dark days or weeks the demons come to play but it has never been as bad as 200/300 level. Now there are coping mechanisms like scriptures in the bible that I quote again and again to remind myself that God has thoughts of good for me so I cannot harbour negative thoughts.
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