My journey to self-awareness and empowerment
By Ndzalama Mathebula, 21, Gauteng
I would not argue that I have ever experienced problems with regards to education but rather my challenges are those that pertain to self-awareness and mindset. This is to say growing up, it was really challenging being skinny and dark as this was defined as ugly (or so I thought). During my teenage years, it was very hard for me to believe in myself since I thought I could not amount to anything since I was ‘ugly’. Thus, doing what I liked such as Math and Science at school or entering pageant competitions seemed very far-fetched and complex. Courtesy of these social constructs that led me to have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in myself.
It became apparent to me how serious this was when I felt inferior to my peers even when there was nothing to make me feel inferior. I would often get mad and jealous of anyone who believed in themselves and would often think that they thought they are better than everyone else. Not realising that I was the one incarcerating myself mentally by believing all those social constructs – ‘when you are dark, you are ugly’ which influenced how I viewed everything which was in a negative way. I was unable to embrace myself as a beautiful tall girl. Realising that this was a problem, I acknowledged how one’s mindset can either cultivate the best person one can be or it can underestimate and hinder you from reaching your goals. Moreover, I realised how challenging it can be to change one’s mindset.
Nevertheless, I am proud to write about this from a different perspective as I realised that if you do not like how something looks then you should simply change the way you see it. And that is exactly what I did, my journey to self-awareness and empowerment was when I started reading ‘The Keys: Open the door to true empowerment and infinite possibilities’ a book by Denise Marek and Sharon Quirt. This made me understand how external opinions can implicate on one’s daily life. Overall, I am really happy today, to freely speak about this as a bygone. I can confidently say I now have a high self-esteem that enables me to feel good about myself and embrace my beauty. Moreover, I can freely explore different opportunities without my negative mindset discouraging my innate ideas. It is very hard to be prisoned by yourself mentally and can often seem impossible to break away from these negative ideas. However, seeing that these are only external opinions, not even facts, anyone and everyone can challenge these ideas.
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