I usually get asked “are you sure you’re from around here?” whenever I am home. I used to feel a certain way about it because, how is it possible that people around the area I grew up in don’t know me? What’s worse is that it doesn’t end there.

People I went to high school with don’t remember me, and God bless the hearts of those who do because I was always the quiet one walking down the corridors. I was short, dark skinned, I had no fashion sense, and I was very dull, but, amazingly, I was okay with it. Maybe that was because I knew there was so much more in me, and because I was just different and I realised there was nothing I could do about it.

After high school came tertiary, and wow, I really had it tough there. Because I was a bookworm, part-time student, and full-time employee. I was tired every day, but I still nailed my exams. As a result, I survived and became more in love with myself and the way I am.

Around my close friends I swear I was funny, but when I went into a room full of people, I was just a weirdo. When I did presentations I was a fireball, but in public events I was the one who went home before 10pm in order to watch movies and eat popcorn. In class I asked questions and I was the spokesperson, but come lunch time, I had only two male friends and no contact with females because I didn’t get along with them. Those I did get along with had different topics than ones I wanted to talk about, and I didn’t indulge in them because I was tired. So, basically, I was boring.

Two years down the line, I realised that I had to work twice as hard as the average student because I couldn’t afford to relax. My surname didn’t have many connections, and you can imagine what that does to an introvert. I became more introverted because I was so inexperienced in so many things.

I had to be forced to focus less on the world and more on building a life. At 22, that was not easy. It was at that age when I realised I was okay with being different. I became tired of trying to figure out what it was that was wrong with me, and why so many things that interested people didn’t interest me. I had picked my poison, and it was getting an education, working, and building an empire from the ground (I’m still working on that even today). For fun, I would rather watch Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy’s stand-up comedy, or horror movies and documentaries. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out and be savage, though, or that there was something wrong with doing that, but it was not me.

There’s nothing wrong with who you are and what you love, and there’s also nothing wrong with being different. That’s why we have different talents, and if your talent is art, then be it, live for it, and love it with all your heart. If you are a weirdo, then be the best weirdo you can be, and if you feel so different that no one understands you, then take time with those who do and don’t rush into building relationships with people who don’t accept you for who you are. Just as long as you don’t become a narcissist and think that everyone now has to bow down and adjust themselves to your character or traits.

Learning to love myself for who I am is an everyday process, and accepting who I am and where I come from is something I also have to learn every day. I want to heal in certain parts of myself, and that I want to do better with all my heart. I also want to accept people around me for who they are, and this is something I try to do every day. I am a work in progress, but I’m in love with my flaws.


Tell us: What would you say makes you different?