May 11, 2014 by Ifeoma Dennis
I remember reading this post about Becoming That Woman by Theodora Goss, and wondering if I’d ever be that woman walking through the streets of Paris with confidence, whose self-worth needn’t be validated by who was at her side, or who wasn’t. It seemed like something I would achieve only when I had a great job + some dream guy at my side.
But I remember hoping, praying to God I’d be that woman sooner. You know, before I found my The One, or achieved something world-moving. (Of course, part of being that woman is achieving goals, but would I be unhappy until I achieve my big dreams?)
And well, it’s part of the reason I really haven’t been in a relationship for the last seven months and counting. I wanted to fall in love with myself and my own company. To feel complete, inspite of not having some attractive boyfriend. I wanted to not rush into another relationship, as I’ve been doing since the beginning of my dating history.
But this time around, I also decided not to settle for anyone, just so I won’t be “alone”. I’m 23, and I guess it’s really hit me that I’m an adult, and need to start acting like one. But me getting to that point where I was alone and loved myself in all entirety didn’t happen until last month.
My ex and I broke up last October, as those of you reading my blog would know, since I talked about it here, and although I wasn’t expecting to be over him in a month or two, what I didn’t expect was the bout of insecurity that hit me about two months after our break-up.
Maybe because after the pain of getting torn away from someone I lived with and talked to everyday had worn off, the deep-rooted insecurity in me was finally free to rear its monstrous head.
And that insecurity came from something random he said while we were still dating (not during our break up, which was actually friendly). That something random was, “your eyes are the only things small on your face” (meaning my nose and lips = big).
At that point, I really didn’t make anything of it because his dad’s a plastic surgeon, and well, he must have learned it from his dad to pay attention to the *inconsequential* things. For me, I didn’t see anything wrong with my face when I looked in the mirror.
Besides, my ex was very good with complimenting me and always loved taking walks/going out with me, and saying things like, “You’re so beautiful, you know and I’m so proud to be at your side” Well, he said those words in different variations on the good days when we weren’t quarrelling, and he acted that way too.
But which words came back to me after we broke up? Those words he said only once.
They (or it?) bothered me for days and weeks, waning and rising. At their peak, I even considered going for plastic surgery, although I was worried that since my nose is really *not that* big, if I worked on the alas of my nose, I might get to look fake and not like a homozygous black girl anymore. But I browsed extensively on the prices and almost got close to setting up an online appointment with a plastic surgeon before I bailed out. I got worried that the rhinoplasty procedure for the alas might leave visible scars, and God forbid, what if I got a hypertrophic scar or a keloid? Although I’ve never had a hypertrophic scar or a keloid before, nor has anyone in my family, but blacks are more prone to keloids and my vanity didn’t want to take a chance on that.
So I had to talk to Mandy before I went crazy from wondering what to do.
But in between the time I sent that email to Mandy and when she gave me her always-kind reply (which was about 24 hours), something happened.
I can’t really explain it, and I wish I knew now how exactly it hit me, but I think it had to do with me looking for inspiration by “stalking” some amazing black women who lead successful lives. And the first one that came to mind was Audra McDonald who acted as the Mother Superior in last year’s Sound of the Music…that was the first time I was seeing her in a movie and I was so awed by how beautiful she was I had to google “Sound of the Music 2013 cast”, just so I can get her name.
And so, that night after I sent off said email to Mandy, I googled Audra’s images again and oops, her nose isn’t reed-thin. But that didn’t stop her from being beautiful. Or achieving things. Or finding happiness.
And I think that was when the whole insecurity thing about my nose dissipated. I also googled Shonda Rhimes and Oprah’s images, who are two women I really aspire to be like career-wise (especially Shonda, by writing great books!), and their noses are not Hollywood perfect either. Oh, and there’s Zuri Hall (this links to her Instagram), who’s a 25-year old FuseTV presenter and she’s astoundingly beautiful in my opinion. No perfect nose there either.
So somehow, I slept and woke up and found out I was over it.
Except that wasn’t the only thing that happened to me.
I also got over wondering what people think of my hair (I’m wearing braids now and I plan to wear a toned-down bohemian next— I’m traveling to London in June for a week, and then to Nigeria for another week!):D
I’ve never been the black girl that got insecure about being black (probably thanks to growing up in Nigeria), so I was only bothered about my nose and my hair. And you have no idea how whiny I’ve been about what to do with my hair that would not just be societally presentable, but also be what I loved to have as my hairstyle too. Ask Mandy.
And since I made that decision, and started loving myself from the inside, I’ve noticed (or maybe it’s the way the universe works?) but most days, people are a lot nicer to me. Or maybe because not worrying about these things makes me a nicer, readier-to-smile person and I get that in return?
And I’m sort of relieved the things I bother about now are my grades, and my WIP, and generally succeeding in life. Not how hot I need to be for me to get the kind of boyfriend I want.
No, now, the kind of boyfriend I’ll date is the one that would accept me the way I am, not the one I need to impress by changing myself. And it’s an amazing, tranquilizing feeling being in love with myself. I’m so glad I got over it. Because self-confidence is, unfortunately, one of those things that can’t be taught. You just have to plant it inside you.
Well, this post is getting a bit long, so I have to round things off here.
But well, to make sure my love for myself stays this way: here are the precautions I’m taking:
- studying hard (so I pass my exams)
- watching what I eat since I’m lazy to exercise
- writing and making my WIP better (so one day, I can rock the world :D)
- wearing clothes that I’m absolutely comfortable in (and my favorite perfume!)
- Making up with my black eye shadows on the days I want to feel extra beautiful (which is pretty much every day)
- Taking the time out to relax, go on my own adventures, take beautiful pictures
- Steering clear of negative and fault-finding people. In other words, keeping my personal space inspiring, loving, healthy and kind!