Honestly, I find it hard to believe that a year has flown by. Whoever came up with that phrase about time flying and not ticking like a clock is absolutely a genius.
I don’t have a mirror in my house but the last time I looked in the side mirror of a vehicle I boarded, I realized that not much has changed about the physical me in the past years. Save for some hair that fell off here and a little that sprouted there, I look the same way I looked seven years ago.
So, when a secondary school mate messaged me a couple of weeks back that I appeared to have changed much and he doubts that he’ll recognize me again, I laughed. I replied that he will indeed have no difficulty singling me out in a room full of a thousand men. Like everyone else, I will not be able to wear my secondary school outfits again but in my case it’s not because I have outgrown them but rather because they will be too big. Slim fitted clothes weren’t as prevalent back then.
Even though not much change that the eye can see has happened with me, I’m not the same person, I’ve evolved.
As a teenager I got questioning stares and actual questions a lot. People made fun of the way I walk, the way my hands can’t seem to stay in one place when I’m talking and of course my high-pitched voice. I remember I was both shocked and embarrassed when a classmate decided to imitate me on the small field outside of my classroom one afternoon. I was like, is that really how I walk and talk? Like really? To my classmate and other people like that, it was just a harmless joke but it was a big deal to me.
All those years, academics was my consolation. I psyched myself up with the fact my teasers were no match for me in the classroom and were probably just envious. However, their teasing got to me and i became this teenager for which the simplest things of life, the things nobody thinks about and takes for granted became a chore.
Every action became deliberate for me. I had to think about how shrill my voice sounded while striking everyday conversations and more than a couple of times I tried to speak with the deepest voice I could achieve by holding down my chin to my chest. I became obsessed with monitoring my steps while walking, trying to avoid the somewhat strutting pattern that comes naturally to me. Trust me, you do not want to know how demanding this was for me, it was both physically and emotionally exhausting.
Brief relief came my way when I realized that those people who make a big deal about this my supposed inadequacies were those who didn’t really know me at all. People who are indeed close to me don’t have this single story about me, so they rarely make a fuss about it; most of them are even blind to it. But it will take me years to finally come to myself because like you know, it is the approval of those who barely know us that we are often trying to break our necks to gain.
Today, I walk proudly the way that comes naturally to me and I care less about the pitch of my voice. It’s simply not worth it, nobody should have to think about their walking style unless of course they are walking the red carpet. Besides there are lots of profitable things to expend energy upon, why get wasted over such triviality.
I still find myself in one of those awful situations where in an attempt to be real, I’m tempted to start acting fake but I catch myself more quickly these days. I got tired of acting out every move, every action and every word. I got tired of trying to disprove the single story that strangers have about me, it’s not complete anyway.
Back to that mirror issue, the fact that there’s no mirror in my house right now is a solid testament that i have changed. One of the strongest vanities I indulged in while in the University is a daily dose of talcum powder masterfully spread over my face with the help of a mirror. So, if you’re still looking for evidence to decide whether I’ve changed or not, you have it.