Live. Laugh. Love.

It’s been weeks of typing and abruptly shutting my laptop, about eleven weeks of starting to type so beautifully, deleting it and going to sleep, several weeks of being indefinitely unsure of everything, and dwelling on that, wrongly so. Several weeks of God’s goodness, through it all. Several weeks of learning to trust in Jesus and to depend upon His word.

A few weeks ago, Kenyan band Sauti Sol released their album Midnight Train, with one of the tracks on the album being Insecure. This song became a sensation for the next few days since it premiered. More times than once, I have actually thought about it, at the same time checking myself, checking my insecurities, and you know – how they weigh me down. In my random reads, over this time, I came across a quote by Maya Angelou:

“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”

Insecurities drain, take away happiness and steal all joy. Heck, I’ve been insecure about this content I put out for the longest time, because someone who was once so dear to me said it was pointless. Yeah, it was pointless writing, especially because most times I write about my experiences, frustrations, dreams, name it. Every time I begin to edit my drafts, the words echo in my head and that’s just it. I delete the draft altogether.

I’ve been insecure about my appearance. My skin, my complexion, how I looked, my physique, because, man, beauty was being tiny, a size 12 was big. Or so I felt. Beauty was being tiny, light skinned with fair hair, mostly straightened and extremely neat. And an immaculate set of teeth.

I loved watching the Miss World pageants and cutting out pictures of the beauty queens and various models in magazines I came across at home then sticking them in books because I wanted to be them when I grew up. Beautiful, perfect and being seen as that by everyone else. Growing up, I was huge. Or so I saw. I’m dark, I’m tall and my teeth were damaged because of fluorosis. Nobody knew how badly I hated my teeth. Especially when complimented about my smile then my teeth pointed out.

I hated the jokes made when I was young of me being the ‘bigger child’: adults would laugh about me finishing the food for my younger brother. I laughed shyly. But hated every bit of it. From that, to a deaconess in church forbidding me from using the kids’ chairs at church (I’d break them) and people in primary school making fun of me – ‘an early bloomer.’

I’ve been insecure about not being good enough, in everything. I’d cry when I failed in exams. Cried when I got rejected by a group of friends. Cried when I felt like I’d never measure up. I’d cry when my hair didn’t sit in it’s place. Or when something happened to my clothes and shoes and I got embarrassed. And I sought validation, even when I didn’t need to.

It took a look in the mirror on one of these bad days and I tried to smile at myself, when I noticed I was actually not as bad as I thought I looked. And slowly, begun to accept myself as the beautiful person I actually am. It’s been a journey. I’ve been so hard on myself all my life trying to sort of compensate for the lack of some things, going above and beyond because I’ve been convinced I’m only as good as what I can do. As a child, I ever wanted to be a news presenter or to appear on TV doing something, but someone told me it’s a preserve of the beautiful, lighter girls. My heart broke, only for me to grow up and see it even when it comes to my relationships, my interactions with various people.

It’s not uncommon to actually fall for someone then told of how beautiful you are, ‘but your skin.’

I’ve dated various people, and you’re the one who is, you know, different. They’ve always been petite and lighter.

“See, you’re beautiful, but your arms. Lakini they’re the flaws to your beauty.”

In that space, it’s easy to project these insecurities on other people, turning out to be a very ugly person in the process. It is far easier to break down another person, than actually deal with the real reason for why we are insecure. Like a certain article I read said, bringing up those reasons can be painful, therefore we look for the easy way out. Within relationships, our insecurities hold us hostage and we become people that we don’t recognize. Some of us settle for relationships that are poisonous because we don’t feel like we deserve better.

It took changing the voices around me, knowing what to listen to, who to listen to and who and what to cut off. See, it is said that the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief, and one kind word can change one’s entire day.

So how do we deal with these?

  1. Forgive the past

Whatever you do, never run back to that which hurt you. Let your emotions flow and live in the present. Trust me it helps. Ignoring emotions pushes forward the pain, making it linger even longer, yet we’re designed to feel emotions and understanding that. Sometimes, insecurities may have been shaped by people and that needs to be recognized. Start to forgive them and understand that they may have been driven by their own insecurities and going through various struggles. They behave imperfectly, but we all do. They weren’t right in what they did, but you can understand it nonetheless. And forgive them for their bad behavior, because holding on to resentment isn’t helping you. Let the past go, one step at a time.

2. Self acceptance and approval

It’s important to pause, take a step back and do some self analysis, noticing what you do not like about yourself. Like I looked at some of these and began to appreciate and send them love, so can you. You are deserving of love, most importantly from yourself. Let your self know what you want to hear, from you. Embrace all of you. All of you has to love all of you before someone else comes loving all of you. You’re wonderful. Do not trade authenticity for approval. In this era of social media, likes and retweets, who are you? Can you have the power over yourself and not necessarily look for the approval of others? Growing up, I’ve come to learn that we do not need anyone’s approval, and all we need is to be there for ourselves. at the very least. Love doesn’t necessarily come with approval of others, but can thrive even more in self awareness and self approval. Accept yourself. Completely. All you need, after all, is love from you.

Also: Usiende swimmo na t-sho

3. Positive thinking

A negative mind will never give you a positive life. Having been through anxiety, this resonates in more ways than one. Rehashing negative thoughts over and over in your head, also known as rumination leads to chronic depression, causing more harm than good. Rumination can actually make you more angry or upset than you were originally, because the issue becomes magnified in your mind. Practicing positive thinking is actually easier said than done, given that sometimes, you try to but the efforts go down the drain especially on realizing that the situation remains the same. I actively started writing down affirmations in my journal as well as printed various posters for my room, ensuring that I get to feed on that immediately I open my eyes in the morning. More than ever, I thrived. It’s mostly about what the mind feeds on.

4. Mindfulness

If a situation is a trigger, know how to behave, and how to react to it. Responses to situations have an effect on us in one way or another, producing various results. Be kind. To yourself. To others.

5. Trust

This journey has only taught me to trust God first then trust myself. I’ve come to understand that I’m only what God says I am, and can only destroy that by believing whatever lies echoing around me. Trust yourself. Trust the process. It shall be well.

It took me whatever number of years to see me for who I am, appreciate me, choose me and embrace every part of me, with grace. It’s been a journey of tears, of fears, and of joy and calm, getting to a point of love. My heart is full.

To my daughter I will tell from day one: You are enough. The world is your oyster and your identity is in the Lord alone. Chin up, princess, lest the crown falls. Only remember to live free and unapologetically, laugh loudly and uncontrollably, love fully, immeasurably.

Love alone,

Milena.

Published by Almaz Kireki

Don't trade your authenticity for approval

7 thoughts on “Live. Laugh. Love.

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