Good Afternoon Lovelies! What’s gwan?
Today is the last day/Friday of March and the last day/Friday in the first quarter of the year! As in, the first 90 days of the year is going, going, GONE… Well just a few more hours to fully go.
The year is rolling by fast and lots of beautiful opportunities have come with it. I hope you are seeing/hearing and making maximum use of the opportunities that have come your way since the beginning of the year? Or do you feel, you haven’t been very lucky with spotting opportunities?
Will dedicate the next quarter of the year to sharing tips on how we can spot and maximize opportunities even if they are camouflaged as something else. Yep. We will unmask opportunities and make the most of them. So please join our DistinguishedLives family by subscribing, if you haven’t done so yet.
For today, we will have this year’s first episode of the #UnheardStory Series #drumrolls.
Guess who our guest is… ME!!!
I’ve decided to share some of my #UnheardStory (which I’ve never shared openly before), to inspire and encourage anyone who has issues with low Self-Esteem. Please sit back, read, learn and share your thoughts in the comment box.
I Had Terrible Low Self-Esteem Until God’s Word Convinced Me That I am Fearfully And Wonderfully Made – ChinyereDistinguished Anoke
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” – Psalm 139:13-14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
My name is Chinyere Distinguished Lydia Anoke, the fourth child in a family of seven. My life’s journey, like that of many other great men and women in history and contemporary time, has not been easy. I have fought and overcome many battles, beautiful battles, as I prefer to call them. A wise man once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I can’t agree less because that’s what these battles have done for me – made me stronger! Today, I will share the #UnheardStory of just one of these battles with you.
Like I mentioned earlier, I am the fourth child in a family of seven children. Being the fourth child among seven children translates that I have three elder siblings and three younger siblings. Growing up, I thought I was beautiful because all my siblings are, and I had no need for a mirror to confirm or contradict that thought… until one beautiful evening after I had had a fresh hair cut at the barbing salon, came back home and my dad looked at me and jokingly said, “gi na isi beansi gi a” (“you and this your beans head”). LOL. I was 9 years old and most certainly knew what a bean seed looked like, so I began an oral questionnaire to find out what exactly the shape of my head looked like.
The first people I asked were my siblings, then my friends and my classmates in school. Funny thing is before now, no one ever told me there was something awkward about the shape of my head and I believed I had the ideal opiora mango-shaped head like everyone else. (Opiora mango is a specie of mango in Nigeria). Well, after I posed the question to know the true shape of my head, I got the first shocker of my life. Everyone I asked would critically look at my head and then burst out laughing. Some said I have a half head, as in, the back of my head looked like the flat edge of a circle that is cut in half. While some others confirmed that it looked like the shape of a beans seed.
I finally summoned courage and looked at my reflection in the mirror and my worst fears were confirmed – my head looked exactly as they described it. A sloping forehead that steeped in the middle of my skull and then went flat down. No curve. Just flat. Exactly like the flat edge of a circle cut in half.
The only person that told me anything positive about my head was my mum. She assured me that I had the most beautiful shape of head and that her head looked exactly like that when she was my age. Well, I had never seen or heard of anyone with a bean-shaped head so I still felt very horrible – and ugly. And thus began my journey to severe self-consciousness in the negative direction and very low self-esteem.
I remember praying fervently for God to change the shape of my head. I also remember the times I would carry very heavy loads on my head in the hope that they would flatten the sharp edges of the steep slope on my head. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. Even though I remained the brightest pupil in my class, (I was in Primary 4 then), I became very clumsy with chores because I always felt people were looking at my head and laughing at my back.
Did I mention that I also have a very shrill/tiny voice (that makes me permanently sound like a baby), knock knees, severe case of myopia and several other physical imperfections that made me very self-conscious and low on self-esteem?
The ‘good news’ is, I was pretty good at covering it up. I was academically intelligent so I often had the opportunity of being in leadership positions. But deep inside, I so much desired to be and look like someone else. Wrote about how I so much wanted to be like my elder sister HERE.
Now, I wasn’t exactly ugly but I didn’t know/think I was beautiful to behold. My Aunty Salt will say “easy on the eyes”; I didn’t think I was easy on the eyes, lol. I was so conscious of my physical flaws and felt everyone who saw or looked at me was staring at my imperfections. The irony is, a lot of them didn’t even really notice these things until I mentioned them and drew their attention to it. But what did I know…
Another irony is, I didn’t know I had any physical attributes worth admiring. One of these physical attributes is my gorgeous dimples.
Got to know I have dimples in a very funny scenario. That ‘fateful’ day I was chatting with this beautiful girl in my class. I think we were in SS1 then. So we were gisting in class and I was admiring the deep holes that appear on her cheeks when she smiles (didn’t know the word for it then). So I complimented her that I liked the deep holes that appear on her cheeks when she smiles and she had laughed and said “Thank you! But you have dimples too naa, hehehe”. Everyone around there turned and started exclaiming, “Yes o, Anoke has dimples too”, “Arghh, Anoke you have dimples”, “Wow, I like your dimples”, etc. More people gathered and asked me to please smile for them so they can see my dimples. Really funny scenario. I had dimples and I knew it not! How come no one ever mentioned it to me before then? I wondered.
Anyways, that was a super pleasant discovery for me. I went home that day and spent hours admiring myself in the mirror, hehehehe. I was happy to finally discover something admirable on my body, but then, that didn’t take away the feeling of low self-esteem. I still had my numerous physical imperfections.
To further cover these feelings of low self-esteem and self-confidence, I buried myself in books (novels and magazines), to be more knowledgeable and be able to contribute to conversations or have a beautiful story to tell. I also often wore a smile, was friendly and cheerful, so this helped take attention off my flaws, or so I thought.
The Turning Point
Fast-forward to my 100Level in the university when God’s word in Psalm 139:13 – 14, especially verse 14 was illuminated in my heart.
I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. – Psalm 139:14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
I finally began to understand and accept that I am indeed made in God’s own image. And if He in His infinite wisdom and love, chose to give me a bean-shaped head (or whatever shape of head), tiny voice, knock knees and all those other supposed flaws, then why should I feel less than wonderful about my looks? Latching on to this word radically changed my mind-set and self-image and I began to accept my flaws, every one of them, as part of God’s special gifts to me which makes me unique.
The more I accepted and embraced my flaws, the less people took notice of them but more importantly, the less I let what people said about my flaws get to me. Also, the more I accepted myself – flaws and all, the better my relationship with others because I became less analytical of jokes said to or about me.
Recently, a friend saw this picture I took with my sister in Lagos and by way advice, said to me, “I think you should stop wearing skinny jeans because of your knock knees…” I looked at her, smiled and heartily said “So I should invest more in Fela trousers, abi? lolz. Baibe, you need to see how cute my knock-knees look in leggings and bumshots.” And we both burst out laughing. Honestly, I was in no way offended by her suggestion. If it was in my days of “ignorance”, I would have been depressed for days.
Accepting and seeing the uniqueness in my flaws is part of what inspired me to name myself ‘Distinguished’. It is not one of my parent-given names. Talked a bit about the history HERE.
I saw myself as unique so I named myself Distinguished to reflect the things I am and the woman I am to become for God in my world. And you know what they say about words and a good name – they have profound power! Calling myself Distinguished made people see me as that – DISTINGUISHED. Consistently hearing myself called by that name also influenced and still influences my actions and decisions to reflect its meaning. Today, my name as a brand is a force to be reckoned with.
The truth in the word of God about my identity and nature, delivered me from negative self-consciousness and low self-esteem. I am sharing this story not so you feel pity for who I used to be or for you to look out for dem flaws when we meet, lol.
Let this be your summary take away from this long story: Accept and embrace your flaws. They don’t have the ability or capacity to hinder you from achieving your biggest dreams. The only thing that can hinder you is your mind-set. Change your mind-set today and you’ll realize that these supposed flaws are assets in disguise.
Some other lessons to take away include:
- The way you see yourself largely influences the way others see you. Until you accept yourself the way you are – flaws and all (between, everybody got flaws), only then will others also begin to accept it as part of your uniqueness.
- Until you see yourself through the mirror of the Word and accept yourself wholly, only then can you begin to love and appreciate yourself better. Self-acceptance is the first proof of your self-love. And until you love yourself, you will not be able to love others adequately. Self-acceptance will also influence your commitment to personal development.
- Parents, guardians, leaders, friends, etc. should be very careful with the words they speak jokingly or otherwise. Most times, the interpretation and effect such words have in the subconscious mind of the receiver goes way beyond our imagination. And often times, the receiver is unable to disentangle him/herself from the dis-empowering thoughts such words create.
- The name you bear, either as an individual or as an organization, is very important. If you have a name that you are not comfortable with, please change it to one you like. And more importantly, the meaning of that name should reflect who you are and positively influence who you want to be. In my case, I love my native name – Chinyere, which I am mostly addressed by. I also love its meaning. Chinyere, means ‘God’s gift’. Letting this meaning sink in, helped me to embrace my flaws when the truth of God’s word dawned on me.
Choose a name that reflects who you truly are and also positively influences you to press towards who you want to be in the nearest future. – ChinyereDistinguished
Understanding these have shaped and changed my life for better.
I love my names and their meanings, and I consciously work on reflecting their true meaning in all that I do.
Has this story inspired or challenged you in any way? Did you pick any lessons from this #UnheardStory? Please share in the comment box. I would also love to learn how you deal with issues that threaten your self-esteem or self-confidence. Let’s talk about these in the comment box.
PPS: You can read other #UnheardStories in the Series HERE.
It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon, have a swell one.
And a Happy New Month in advance.
Love❤️ ❤️ ❤️