It seemed today was going to be one of those days. At breaktime the bitchy girls found me. Mama had given me a nice lunch, with amagwinya. The girls saw it.
“Yes fatty,” one of them said, scornfully. “I hear you are going to Girl Power. Didn’t they tell you that to get thin you have to stop eating.” The other girls laughed. “Give us your lunch.”
“Ya chommie, it seems that Girl Power is for dummies like her. Hey wena, if we see you go there we will beat you,” another joined in.
“My name is not fatty, wena,” I said firmly, remembering what Dineo had said in her role-play. “My name is Lizzy, Lizzy Thabethe.”
The whole class was staring quietly. Then she said, “Sdudla, I don’t care who you are!”
The whole class burst into laughter. I felt the tears coming.
I couldn’t stand up to them. Life coaching was never going to work.
The next Friday I went to the Girl Power group only to tell Tasha that it wasn’t working, and I couldn’t go back – but I ended up staying.
And the next week I stayed … and the next. I kept going to the group every week and it bit by bit it became my safe place, where I could share. I started to become more confident and I began, slowly, to learn to love myself more and to be kind to myself.
I liked it when we were given affirmations. We learned to compliment ourselves, rather than criticize ourselves.
One session we wrote down affirmations that made us feel good about ourselves. We put all of them in a drawstring bag, and at the end of each session we passed the bag around and took out an affirmation that we could think of each day, and say to ourselves when we needed to feel stronger. I thought of Mam Zondi who had one for every day of her week.
Every day I practised these words when I woke up, when walking along the corridors at school, when I got home, before I went to bed. Whenever, I could.
‘I am strong,’ I would say inside when the bully girls passed me in the corridor. ‘I am beautiful,’ I would think when I looked at myself in the mirror.
Gradually, I became bolder and bolder. I caught Mama smiling at me one day while I sang aloud about how strong I was, as I washed the dishes.
Slowly, I actually started to believe these beautiful, powerful words.
Tell us: Do you have an affirmation that helps you overcome negative thoughts about yourself? If so, what is it? Or, can you now think of one that you think would help you?