” Today I am ‘me’, the woman I wished I could be: forever growing.
When I was a kid, I always knew that I was meant to do something special in my lifetime. My dreams were filled with my older self fighting crime and keeping peace.
Life has a funny way of distorting our perception of what’s perfect. As I grew older, my vision of ‘perfect’ changed- and not for the better. With all the changes a woman goes through in life (physically, emotionally, spiritually), we tend to forget what the difference between perfect and beautiful is. I certainly forgot. When I was 5, my concept of beauty was to be like my mother. Physically, she was beautiful with her dark curly hair, striking features and a strong sense of confidence. She always spoke her mind and did what was right. At the age of 10, my concept of beauty had changed, drastically. My group of friends suddenly changed and so did my idea of what was beautiful. To be beautiful, I had to have long, blonde hair and a skinny frame. I had to have an American accent and the ’hottest guy in school’ had to like me, or else I was a nobody and a ‘wannabe’.
At 12 years old, all I wanted to do was fit in. Unfortunately, I was so desperate to feel like I was welcomed, I allowed people to take advantage of my insecurities. An incident regarding a dare to kiss a boy on the cheek at an extremely conservative school was going to be my make-or-break. All it led to, was me humiliating myself and creating a reputation even though I had never even gone as far as holding a boy’s hand.
By the time I was 14 I had already accepted the thought that I was not special and that I would never be part of the popular crowd. All I knew was that I had an opinion and for some reason that was wrong. To my peers I was considered annoying and bossy. I was considered to be an attention seeker that thrived on being a teacher’s pet. My insecurities had consumed me so much that even the people who were genuine and kind were pushed away.
At 15 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I had been contemplating suicide for months and (of course) the only thing that could save me was a boy. I spent eight months clinging onto a toxic relationship because in my head he was the only person keeping me alive. If it hadn’t been for one of my best friends informing my mother that I needed help, I wouldn’t be alive today. After a few weeks of therapy, I decided to cut my hair and end my relationship. I was a new woman, apparently. I told myself I was fine and that I didn’t need feelings. I just had to force myself to be okay and things would be fixed. Oh, how wrong I was!
By 16 years old I was an emotionless robot, and that came with unexpected consequences. My heart was so broken, my mind so sick that my physical health began deteriorating. I had rejected the idea that I could be a beautiful, strong woman with such force that my uterus began to destroy itself. I was not okay with feeling so weak that I couldn’t lift my head. I was not okay with the fact that no doctor, no matter how skilled, could tell me what was wrong with me. It was at this point that I realised I needed to get help. The right help. After a year of therapy and constant support from my mother and best friends I can safely say that I am strong. I am strong and I am beautiful and I am a woman.
With the help and support of loved ones, I dropped out of high school. I stopped trying to be this person that I’m not and decided to do what’s right.
I am achieving my dreams, empowering people that were never given the chance to create lives for themselves.
After leaving school, my mother and I started a Non-Profit: The Skills Development Programme, which aims to develop skills within underprivileged communities. We aim to empower people to make their lives better for themselves. Our plan is to do this through skills that seem basic, like compiling a CV for example, but that can make every difference in someone’s life.
My dream is to make the world better and that is exactly what I am going to do.”
Written By Fatima Hoosain
Edited By Malika Omar
Follow: Sparrow Speaks
For those suffering from anxiety and depression, seek help from your local medical advisor to discuss treatment. It’s important to speak up and not suffer in silence.
In South Africa, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group