To my insecurities by Temi
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I guess this could be a letter to my younger self. For us, by us 🦋🦋🦋

Hey younger self!

I was hesitant to write this as I fear I take myself too seriously sometimes and recently, it’s also felt as though I’ve been in a long process of trying to overcome quite a few insecurities of mine. But, here are my thoughts on overcoming insecurities and an attempt to take myself just seriously enough ! - 

There’s no magic fix, it’s an every day effort.   As long as you can try and look at yourself everyday and say this is what I’m going through, this is hard but let’s try again today - it will be okay. As long as you make sure you get help if you need it.  As long as you can try to be secure enough to look at those around you and say this is what I am going through and this possibly affects how I’m responding to this or that, you’ll be okay. You will constantly be overcoming insecurities in your life and so I’ve decided to ditch this idea that I will ever get all the way “there”. Life is hard, we spend our lives  unlearning past difficult experiences.  You’re never going to get “there”. The idea of “getting there” is a false one and so much pressure because we are always becoming. The idea that there’s a deadline to completely overcoming an insecurity is hopeful, but in my experience a lot of pressure; because life is a process of overcoming insecurities and that is okay.

There’s no magic fix, it’s an every day effort. As long as you can try and look at yourself everyday and say this is what I’m going through, this is hard but let’s try again today.
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I used to think for a while that I had completely overcome my insecurity surrounding my body and its impact on my relationship with food was a thing of the past. But, I have not. I don’t know if I will ever completely be over that, but I do know that everyday, I try and I get much better than the last time. Sometimes I go backwards but on the whole I am growing. I am learning what to do and what not do and that’s okay because it is hard and you have to make an every day effort. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have overcome an insecurity if it’s huge. Try to find ways to become comfortable in yourself. Try to be secure. Surround yourself with the right energy. Try. Acknowledge your issues and try. Be easy on yourself and you will be okay. Just start with trying. So, I guess I haven’t completely overcome any of my insecurities but I am slowly becoming secure in the fact that this is okay. 

You will be okay but you also will have times when you are not and you have to try extra hard and that’s okay.  One major insecurity I am making a lot of progress on though, is being myself. Letting myself be and focusing on discovering who I am as opposed to who I think I’m supposed to be and that starts with doing what makes me feel good, first :)

 

Peace out

Temi x

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Tiwalola Ogunlesi
To my favourite frenemy by Iggie
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To my favourite frenemy

You were assigned to me the moment that pregnancy test read positive, you shared the womb with me but luckily didn't take up too much space but as soon as I came out you hid and never made a sound. Four years later you made yourself known again, this time for the parents to see. You did that for a while, playing hide & seek with a young girl who wasn’t ever willing to play, I could never understand you.

I never knew what or who you were, well whatever, till next time.

More time went along and it wasn’t until I had just turned 13 and you’d almost taken my life that I learn who you were, Sickle Cell, hm scary fellow but apparently I’m stuck with you for life. Years went by and you just got louder and louder but I couldn’t let anyone see you. I didn’t want people to see the monster I had growing on my back, Iggie or should I say Quasimodo.

“Iggie how come you never swim during PE?” - Classmate #93

You took away from me, you took away my strength, my energy, my spunk, everything that made me me but you know what it’s fine…

You stopped me from doing things all the normal kids did, running, swimming, school trips, always a no from mum & dad. You just never stopped getting louder and ruining everything for me! Why? What was your purpose?? You really made me upset then, you just kept taking and taking and as if that wasn’t enough, you got in the way of my education.

‘Sorry miss, I was just too tired, I honestly couldn't go to class.’ - A fatigued Iggie in her Catholic Boarding School

These people don’t understand you, you can’t afford to be pulling tricks like that, do you know how many times I’ve tried to explain what’s going on inside me. You did this for 4 good years, you even stopped me from writing my final exams. Why do you hate me so much? What did I ever do to you? Stop it please…

“Due to the problems with Francesca’s health we do agree that it would be wise for her to not carry on with the session but rather than a 3 week leave, we propose she permanently withdraw from the University…” - University of Leeds

If you notice the story-time/metaphorical tone I started off with has gradually faded, you did that. You took away from me, you took away my strength, my energy, my spunk, everything that made me me but you know what it’s fine…

…Because let’s fast forward to the present, today marks my 3rd week in the hospital (some might say it’s sad) but I am at the peak of my happiness. I look at myself, the people around me, the opportunities you’ve given me and I’ve never been so happy. I’ve learnt to love you and although you’re a pain, I see that you only want the best for me too, well just know that this is OUR journey. I would never have gotten here without you and I am forever grateful. Our 20th anniversary is coming up this year and I have something special planned, something you’ve always wanted, so till then love…

Peace out

Iggie x

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Tiwalola Ogunlesi
To coming out of dark times by Ella
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I once read the analogy of humans being putty-like and it’s one I always like to think of. It states that we are moulded and shaped in so many different ways to each other due to our past. Picked up, bashed around and dropped to form different shapes before we get tossed around again. That’s exactly how I felt a few years ago. The skin issues I was having made me shy away from everyone and everything. So how did I get my self out of the shadows and not let my past define my future?

The secret is to love everyone you meet.

My dad gave me a book once and in it contained a piece of advice from Joanna Lumley who said that, the secret is to love everyone you meet. From the moment you meet them. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, particularly as you don’t know their story, secrets or insecurities. This ultimately, I believe, creates a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby you are receiving love from others due to giving it to others. The love and confidence that you gain from this is so important as you can then realise your own capabilities; to be and to achieve. Taking time out, I have also found, helps one to gain more self love. Time to weirdly enough get to know yourself better, as funnily enough you are the person you’re gonna be stuck with the longest! Knowing what makes you tic, makes you laugh, makes you excited is such an important thing. By doing things you love and giving love to others, it creates love for yourself. From this, the amount will only grow with time.

Peace out

Ella x


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Tiwalola OgunlesiComment
To my eating disorder by Karina
 
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At 7, I looked down frustrated at my thighs. Frustrated because they weren’t slender like Barbie’s. At such a tender age, I had internalised an unhealthy body image mindset because Aunties, Cartoons and MTV had told my impressionable mind what a woman ‘should look like’. I admired my mum and older sister - their hips, their curves, their femininity, their but somehow, I could not see myself that way.

By 14, my battle with bulimia had begun. My gauge of how well I was doing would be the adoring comments from fellow church every Sunday. ‘You look so good - keep it up!’ Unbeknown to them, these comments were the fuel my eating disorder fire needed to thrive. My jaw was constantly swollen and I coughed up blood every so often. My period had stopped for 8 months - but I looked good. Several times a week, I would kneel to the porcelain god in an effort to keep the weight off. 19, I developed an unhealthy obsession with the gym. Ironic, isn’t it? Coupled my carefully hidden purging habit I lost a tremendous amount of weight and proudly kept it off.

I’ve nicknamed myself Thiccrina because I’ve taken back my story.

Now in my 20s, I’m free from bulimia. I’ve gained all the weight back and then some. I’ve nicknamed myself Thiccrina because I’ve taken back my story. Week by week, I’m falling more in love with my thighs, my jiggly belly and natural ‘unsnatched’ waistline. I’m enjoying the journey of figuring out my style and wearing what I feel most confident in. I’m relearning the beauty of working out - for strength, for stamina, for my mental health.

I read a tweet which said ‘To cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself is a ritual that needs repetition and reinforcement. We fall in and out of love. Our acceptance of and relationship with self is like any other... it needs nurturing.’ I couldn’t agree more. Not every day is a body positive day but every day is one of progress. Every day is a practice of remembering that my features and stature go far beyond me. I am a part of a beautiful family of women who have unabashedly taken up space for years. A lineage. Why would I want to shrink those years of family history and culture?

Peace out

Karina

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To my hearing loss by Toyosi
 
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When I was younger, I didn’t mind you. I don’t think I was fully aware of what was going on. I just knew I had to wear these things in my ears to help me hear and attend speech therapy lessons, but I never really thought of myself as different from those around me.

But, as I got older and became more aware of interaction and of course, judgment, I became more conscious of your presence. I became more sensitive to the looks I received from those around me when my hair was in a bun or when I asked someone to repeat himself/herself multiple times.


Would I be looked at with pity? Would I be employable if I declared myself as having a ‘disability’?  

These questions among many more quickly became a part of my everyday life, and from this point on, I started to resent you. Couldn’t you just fix yourself and go away?

THANK YOU FOR BEING MY GIFT,
MY UNIQUENESS, MY AMOR

I fought to prove that I was worthy, more than just a girl with hearing aids and a weird accent. I’m now realising that I was doing all of that more for myself than for anyone around me, and honestly, I’m realising what a gift you are. Perspective, opportunity, strength, a story- some of the many things you’ve given me. I’m thankful for the lessons on patience and empathy- all of which have shaped me today. All of this and so much more, I owe to you. Thank you for being my gift, my uniqueness, my teacher, my shield of armour.


Thank you for being patient with me as I have come to these realisations. 

Here’s to a journey of endless teachings, genuine self-acceptance and to the woman I am to be. People around me have taught me there’s a beauty in being different, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to accept you for you.

Peace out

Toyosi

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Tiwalola OgunlesiComment
To my messed up mind by Tiwalola
 
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You’re 17 now and I see you turning up in the club on the weekend. No wonder they call you Rockstar Tweezy. I’m not worried about you though because I know when it’s time to study for exams you got this. I know you’re smart and driven. You have big dreams and you’ll never lose sight of that.

On the surface your life seems pretty good. You have family and friends who love you which is great but I just have to ask…do you love yourself?

You seem super confident in front of people but behind closed doors I hear how you talk to yourself. So many negative thoughts swirling round your head…why do you entertain them, why do you let them stay?

That voice that tells you, you are not skinny enough has built a refuge in your mind. The words you are not enough seem to be on repeat. First you’re not skinny enough then you’re not smart enough then you have no talents or gifts. The vicious cycle in your mind seems like it’s never going to end. Now you’re crying because you can’t seem to shut your mind up. You think you’re the only person in the world with bad voices in their head and now you’re too scared to open up about how you feel. I know it’s frustrating but don’t worry you’ll discover the secret to dealing with self-doubt in your twenties and use it to change the world.

Yes you read that right, there is purpose to all the pain you feel right now. You just need to learn how to activate the greatness within you. But my dear Tiwalola gripping your thighs with irritation and not being happy with what you see in the mirror doesn’t help things. The fact that you have turned into your own hater and constantly compare your body to your sisters is holding you back. Here’s why:

Comparison is a dangerous game T. When you compare the worst of you with the best of other people it’s not even a fair comparison. Think of it this way, a square and triangle are both made up of lines but they form totally different shapes, for different purposes. There’s no equal ground to compare. The same way there’s 7 billion people on this planet and no one else is like you. That’s your superpower. Yes were made up of the same organs and bones but everyone has unique DNA and a unique God-given purpose. When you spend your time comparing yourself to others you take your eyes off your lane and your life and get fixated on what others are doing. It’s a car crash waiting to happen.

Comparison is a dangerous game T. When you compare the worst of you with the best of other people it’s not even a fair comparison.

So, there is more to your life than how much you weight. I know this because by the time you turn 24 you’ll start a confidence revolution* speaking to 160 girls across 4 countries on the importance of self-love. You’ll also start your own business as a confidence coach bringing hope to young girls just like you. How sad would it be if you let your insecurities get in the way of changing people’s lives.

That’s why it’s important not to let the lies in your head paralyse you from being everything you were destined to be. The most important thing is to discover your truth and the truth is whatever feels good, right and loving. So when the voice in your head tells you you’re not skinny enough I want you to replace it with the truth. When God sees you, all he sees is goodness. He said that you Tiwalola are fearfully and wonderfully made. NO BUTS! When that voice returns tell em boy byeeeee and start reciting all the good things about you.

A manufacturer would never release an unfinished product, the same way your creator made you whole and complete before you were born. You are enough. What a revelation! So be careful about wishing you could be like someone else and remember everything you need to win in life is already within you.

Before I end I want to emphasise that you are not the voices in your head. The battle between good and evil happens in your mind. So it is normal to have conflicting thoughts. You just have to train your mind to make positive thoughts dominate over the negative ones. This is a skill you’ll perfect as you get older. It doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll also begin to realise that you can’t control the noise and chatter but you can control whether you listen to it or not.

So young Tiwalola, I forgive you for all the hurtful things you said to yourself.

I am proud of you for taking action to turn your dreams into a reality and for becoming an unstoppable force of empowerment and inspiration.

And lastly, I promise to use your story as a wake up call for a generation of young people to realise their own worth, strength and purpose.

Peace out

Tiwalola

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