This is happening in our everyday life, where you find people making conclusions about others based on their appearance and that’s where they miss it. Often, it sounds like a cliché to many, because it’s a common statement made throughout our lives, but until you understand the pain, rage, hurt, discouragement, loneliness and sadness it brings to the soul, you will understand what I’m talking about. I’ve been there several times. Not being taken seriously when you make comments or talk about something significant because you don’t look as if you know what you are talking about. Having a hard time fitting in because you don’t wear expensive clothes. I’ve been that route and trust me, it’s not pleasant at all.

To have burning tears that stream from your eyes throughout the day and night because of the sorrow it brings. Losing hope when you look in the mirror, because today’s society has become obsessed with fashion and looking good and, thus, the humbled background makes you feel recessive or, should I say, invisible. Enduring teasing and laughter was neither child’s play nor easy.

Growing up was not easy for me. I grew up in a very humble background. I was fat and unattractive because I never had beautiful clothes like other children. Most of my clothes were donations from other people so I never wore new clothes, and going to bed hungry was a tradition. I was belittled and others called me ugly. People didn’t take me seriously; they saw a loser and a stupid person with no future because of the physical appearance and the current situation I was in.

One day I told myself that I would never socialise with anyone again; I would focus on my studies and bond with my books because they never judged me and acceptance is what they did best for me. I remember choosing streams in high school for mathematics and physical sciences and this left many people astonished. Some thought I would not make it and some friends even told me that I would never make it in that stream because it was the hardest. I guess they judged me based on my physical appearance. I remember I kept quiet and told myself that I would prove them wrong.

At the end my first term in high school, I made it to the Top Five and that’s when I regained my hope. I thank God everyone was there to witness it and the word spread throughout the village. Trust me, some hated me whilst others were pleasantly surprised by my achievement.

Then came Matric. I passed and my results were good enough to go to university. People thought I would never make it in university because of my background so I took a gap year, but the following year I went to university. Many were surprised and couldn’t believe it and they asked how I’d made it. I completed my four year honours Degree in Social Work and Graduated in 2016. In May, 2016 I got a job at an NGO which is not enough, but I told myself that we all start somewhere and I’m destined for higher positions in life.

All these achievements I made in life made people start respecting and stop undermining me. I am someone in life now; people recognise me and my voice is heard. My wish is to be a voice to those who lost it because of being undermined based on their physical features and encourage them to stand for what they believe in. I believe this could break the chains of poverty to the marginalised society because knowledge is power. Beauty fades, fashion gets updated, but wisdom will take you places and it changes hopeless situations.

This experience has taught me that the person you despise today might be your president tomorrow or help you reach your destiny. This also happens in many places and areas of life like choosing a career, especially in male dominated fields like engineering where women are despised and not expected to excel; but it’s all in the hard work, not the stature.

So, “Everything has its own season in life”. If they despise you today, turn those critics into motivations because your future may look brighter than you realise. Your background only determines your future if you allow it to, but everything lies in your hands because you carry change in you. I’m a testimony today, because I have grown into a beautiful young lady who is working towards independence and effecting change in the world.

Respect is golden. It attracts blessings and it will take you places, so never judge a book by its cover because “not all that glitters is gold”. Never let a person who is looking good intimidate you because you might find that you are way better than them. Many people are servants today while they were destined to be kings because of believing what other people said about them.

Work hard, persevere, pray and succeed