University was possibly one of my favourite seasons of life. I’m referring to it as a season as just like autumn it came and went and was unique in itself, but nostalgic feelings constantly remind me of what was. To think of the person I was at Uni and the woman I am now is amazing because day do to day you don’t feel yourself changing. It’s only until you look back years after to realise how different things were.
Recently, I synced my iphone 5 to my macbook and saw the old me flash before my eyes (literally iphoto flashes all the photos up on the screen in zoomed time) and it reminded me of so many things that I had forgotten about myself. It reminded me of the Melissa that went to Essex to study criminology only because she failed her psychology A level and was declined to enter for the psychology degree. During that time, determined could be a valid attribute to the person that I was because I was damn sure that I was going to Essex University to study whatever. Secretly, I knew that I had a creative mind, logical but nowhere near analytical and the education system didn’t help my self esteem and made me feel ‘dumb’ in terms of how good I was at performing well in tests.
Regardless of this, it was drummed into my head from a young age that further education was nothing short obligatory. For me, I was the kind of individual that when I understood the topics that were being taught I excelled and would get one of the highest scores in the class but when I didn’t I would attain the lowest grades.
During my teens, I was nervous young lady and any decision that I made (about anything) was surrounded and almost engulfed in uncertainty and topped off with a very generous sprinkle of anxiety. Even though I thought that university wasn’t for me, I wasn’t brave enough to admit it or ever brave enough to search for what I actually wanted to do to even actively pursue it. Not only that, I didn’t actually 100% know what I wanted to do so I was more comfortable with winging it than actually taking time to find out what could be my expertise. The funny thing about university is you enter it when you’re around 18 years old (which I now think is a bit too young) and most people don’t know what they want to do career wise so they just choose what they think is right at the time. It’s only after you come out of Uni that you realise that maybe it wasn’t the best thing to study and by that time you think it’s too late.
It was drummed into me enough to for me to be deluded into thinking that University was the only way to succeed in life. I had to study, I had to become a professional I had to do something academic because academia somehow guaranteed a secured income. The older me would tell the younger Melissa that going to University wasn’t entirely the worst decision but it definitely far from the only option that one could choose. Even though I thought (after I graduated) that what I studied wouldn’t be beneficial for me career wise it somehow has been. Being educated is a wonderful thing and regardless of what you study, education helps you to be a prompt individual, someone who knows how to work within deadlines and someone who can think analytically, solve things, question things in order to find an answer. It teaches you how to become a problem solver whatever the problem may be and this is something that can be applied to all areas of life.
I must say that if university revealed anything to me it showed me that I had a false sense of identity. All in all, I didn’t know who Melissa was but I realised that I was most definitely a people pleaser. Not only was I a people pleaser but I allowed my value to be restrained and defined against how people felt about me. So, if there were things that people didn’t like about me, they were sooner turned into things I began to hate about myself. For instance, I began to dislike myself for being ‘too loud’ – something that was reiterated by everyone and it somewhat dampened my spirits because it was genuinely just part of who I was. Because of this I tried to change myself but it didn’t always last long.
This was just one of the many opinions from others that stopped me from being unapologetically me. I was so far from the confident individual my exterior claimed to be because I just wanted to be liked by others. It didn’t matter about how I felt about myself just as long as other people liked me. When you start to dislike yourself and value yourself only based on the opinion of others, you don’t believe in yourself.
Another thing was that I was uncomfortable with my exterior. I hated being tall because it meant that I was different I just wanted to blend in. I also hated that I had no boobs and felt that my body was more athletic than womanly. Because of this I was always made inferior when someone else who I felt was more beautiful that me was in my presence. There would always be a chilling intimidating aura that I would feel even if it wasn’t the girls intent. I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others and not enough time appreciating why I was uniquely beautiful. I wish this was something I could have come to grips with sooner rather than later.
My 24th year of life has been an absolute whirlwind and it has allowed me to realise that I’ve spent a lot of time investing in someone who I am not. Divulging into a character that I am not into a girl that I was not and into a spirit that I am not. One thing that I am happy about is that it’s not too late. Allowing God to take control of my life has made me realise that life is not about my achieved attributes or my ascribed status. It’s not about achieving what society deems as successful. Who I am is not defined by how others perceive me or how others want me to be in order to be of benefit to them. Who I am is not about how pretty I am or not. Life is not about pleasing those who wouldn’t do their all to ensure that I am mentally, spiritually and physically okay. It’s okay for me to be selfish and work on me because at the end of the day, I am all I have. I have been selfishly working on myself for a little while now and I have grown to love myself. I now complement my self in places where I only saw flaws and I’m happy that maturity has led me down this path.
All in all, I’m writing this for the guys are girls who may be confused about their identity or what they want to do in life. It’s important to remember that education nor occupation defines you. How clever you are or how much money you make or will make does not make you better than the next nor does it make your lesser than another. I wish from a younger age that I realised that what defines you is how you feel about yourself and whether or not you’re genuinely happy. I also need you to know that what you see on social media shouldn’t make you feel bad about your current self. Just because you may think someone is prettier than you or have a better life that you doesn’t mean you are worth any less. It’s also okay not not be okay with yourself because we’re all human and we all need that time to grow to get to know ourselves. Trust me, it will come. Let me be an example.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to invest in yourself in every crevice. Understand who you are and your identity an don’t let anyone’s contructs of how they think that you should be stop you from being you.