Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Series: What Do You Do When You Never Feel Good Enough? (Intro)


Last month I had a session with a youth group where I treated the issue of poor self-image and its implications on leadership. I’ve realized that low self-esteem is an insidious yet rarely talked about issue that cripples young people and their ability to find and maximize their abilities.

My session was supposed to last for 45 minutes. I spent about 2 hours; then spent another 30 minutes taking questions and about 1 hour more addressing issues some couldn’t talk about publicly. It was this session that inspired my blog post ‘On Low Self Esteem’

I got a couple of messages from people who read that post basically saying, “Naomi, I have this problem and I don’t know what to do.” One of those who sent me a message was an acquaintance. She wanted to see me; she wanted to talk. I agreed to a meeting even though I kept wondering what I was going to say to her.

Just listening to her broke my heart. She was okay, sort of, until she graduated with a Third Class.  While she could find a way to deal with it, her family couldn’t. From parents to siblings, she’s been made and is still being made to feel stupid. Four years after, she remembers vividly the hurtful things they said to her; that grade has and is still defining the way she feels about herself.

I was planning a retreat-type event for youths when we spoke and knowing it was a topic I intended to treat exhaustively at the retreat, I told her she could be my assistant if she wanted. That way, she could benefit from the process as well. I made her a promise that if the retreat didn’t hold as planned, I would treat the issue on my blog.

It didn’t, so in the coming days, I’ll be posting a series of write-ups on the topic; even if you don’t fit the profile, you probably will know someone who does. Be kind enough to share, let’s all start the New Year with a fresh dose of confidence :D

Xoxo
©Naomi Lucas

6 comments:

Tunji Ajibade said...

Good post, Naomi, and I think your coming posts on this matter will do a lot of people some good. I can understand with your acquaintance. I sometimes try to put myself in the shoes of people who express their fears in this area. Though everyone of us has a fear in one area or the other, that of low esteem is worse. and it is more so when it comes from an area such as academic achievement, and that, for anyone who set their minds on pursuing academic endeavours.

As a child, I recollect my father asking me and my siblings what we wanted to do with our lives. At the age of five, I remember saying I wanted to have education. Somehow, I have had it smooth-sailing up to the highest academic pedestal. When I look back, I discovered that all the things that should serve as obstacles on my path were mysteriously taken care of, so it's not been just by my personal effort. and this is where I have to state that my academic pursuits contribute in no small measure where personal self-esteem is concerned. Some months back, I was telling a young person who was looking for university admission that I wonder what my esteem would have been if I didn't sail though and had all the education that my heart had desired to have. Even the schools I attended contributed to how I view myself. I remember that even as a young person I had consciously selected all the universities I attended just for the esteem I believe their reputations would rub on me. I am sorry if I sound as if I am gloating, But that is the last thing on my mind. I state all this to show the extent that I understand the dilemma of low self-esteem that your acquaintance complained about. I believe there are ways around her problem, however. If her mind is still on education, maybe she can do a post-graduate diploma course that will qualify her for Master programme. Experience taught me that a one year Master programme requires shorter time, and therefore affords one greater concentration to make a better grade. On the other hand, if she is not interested in that, she may find her area of passion, what she knows she is wired to do, give it all her energy. Who knows, those who have Fisrt Class may be her employees one of these days. And when she excels in her area of passion, even members of her family that say what they say may turn around eat their word. We wont all take the same route to the top, after all. she should let this sink into her heart and put herself together and move on with life. I hope you will call the attention of your acquaintance to this post, Naomi. Regards. Ajibade


Anonymous said...

Good post, Naomi, and I think your coming posts on this matter will do a lot of people some good. I can understand with your acquaintance. I sometimes try to put myself in the shoes of people who express their fears in this area. Though everyone of us has a fear in one area or the other, that of low esteem is worse. and it is more so when it comes from an area such as academic achievement, and that, for anyone who set their minds on pursuing academic endeavours.

As a child, I recollect my father asking me and my siblings what we wanted to do with our lives. At the age of five, I remember saying I wanted to have education. Somehow, I have had it smooth-sailing up to the highest academic pedestal. When I look back, I discovered that all the things that should serve as obstacles on my path were mysteriously taken care of, so it's not been just by my personal effort. and this is where I have to state that my academic pursuits contribute in no small measure where personal self-esteem is concerned. Some months back, I was telling a young person who was looking for university admission that I wonder what my esteem would have been if I didn't sail though and had all the education that my heart had desired to have. Even the schools I attended contributed to how I view myself. I remember that even as a young person I had consciously selected all the universities I attended just for the esteem I believe their reputations would rub on me. I am sorry if I sound as if I am gloating, But that is the last thing on my mind. I state all this to show the extent that I understand the dilemma of low self-esteem that your acquaintance complained about. I believe there are ways around her problem, however. If her mind is still on education, maybe she can do a post-graduate diploma course that will qualify her for Master programme. Experience taught me that a one year Master programme requires shorter time, and therefore affords one greater concentration to make a better grade. On the other hand, if she is not interested in that, she may find her area of passion, what she knows she is wired to do, give it all her energy. Who knows, those who have Fisrt Class may be her employees one of these days. And when she excels in her area of passion, even members of her family that say what they say may turn around eat their word. We wont all take the same route to the top, after all. she should let this sink into her heart and put herself together and move on with life. I hope you will call the attention of your acquaintance to this post, Naomi. Regards. Ajibade


Naomi Lucas said...

Hi Tunji, thanks for stopping by and great advice you've given. I wish we will all realize like you said, that we won't all take the same route to the top... Don't worry, she's reading :)

Anonymous said...

I can effortlessly connect with Naomi’s write up. I was a remarkable failure. I wrote JAMB Exams about 8 times between 1993 and 2000 when I finally I got admission into a University. My inability to pass JAMB exams was used to insult me anytime I did anything wrong to my parents (my father, especially) and siblings. I was depressed and really angry; angry with myself, angry with God, angry with my parents, angry with everyone I ever came in contact with; because to a large extent nobody ever gave me a chance. What made it worse for me was that I had a lot on my mind and I didn’t have anyone I could talk to. I was the black sheep of the family, the outcast. So, I never felt welcome anywhere. I look at people with suspicion.

In between writing JAMB Exams and failing I wanted to prove to my parents and everyone around me that I can make something out of my life without their support, so I went out to get a job. I had worked as a Nursery school teacher, I worked in a Pharmacy, and I worked in a Restaurant. Just to make a point. And the whole idea about making a point was borne out of anger and resentment for my parents and siblings. I just wanted to “show them”. So, I’ll buy myself some nice shirts and sneakers and nice cologne. In retrospect, I was also working to hide my failure. Before, you draw any conclusion; I was a maniac when it comes to reading. I always read for my JAMB Exams like mad. But, each time I always fail.

So, I battled with depression and low self-esteem for a very long time. I never felt I was good enough for anything in life. I considered suicide a couple of times. But, when bouts of depression overwhelm me, somewhere on the inside of me, I feel a certain hope that I should try again, that tomorrow will be better, that God has something in stock for me. So, I kept at it.

I got into University when a sizable number of my mates were in Grad school. I was ashamed and angry. I just used to run away from them, I hide when I see them, because I didn’t feel good enough.

Because I love to read, I read the Bible quite a lot, just out curiosity and to engage in silly debates. In the course of my reading I realized I’m created in the image of Christ, so I said to myself that-“if indeed I’m created in the image of God, God wasn’t a failure”. Yes, I failed but, I’m not a failure and I’m not going to attempt to wrap it around some Socratic Philosophy. And I started praying and studying the Bible more diligently, though occasional thoughts of failure would taunt me. Somehow, I kept at it. Each time such thoughts come I’ll pray and use God’s word to console myself, so I found great solace in praying and reading the Bible.

Today, I look back at my life and I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful to my parents and I love them to death- my mum has gone to be with the Lord, my father and I talk a lot now, even though back then, he never gave me a chance. My siblings and I a bit close; I still struggle a bit in accepting them because of the way they made fun of me and ostracized me. In those years of failure, I learnt tenacity, hard work, determination, courage, faith, hope and commitment. Today, my colleagues marvel at my sense of commitment and hard work to job that pays “very little”. I keep at it because I know there’s a tomorrow and it’ll be better. I keep telling myself and my lovely wife-“things will not always be like this for us”.

I’m grateful to Naomi for starting this discourse and I’m hoping that someone somewhere will look at failure and mistakes of the past and shut the door at it and move on; because tomorrow looks better! Thank you Naomi and God bless you richly.

Anonymous said...

I can effortlessly connect with Naomi’s write up. I was a remarkable failure. I wrote JAMB Exams about 8 times between 1993 and 2000 when I finally I got admission into a University. My inability to pass JAMB exams was used to insult me anytime I did anything wrong to my parents (my father, especially) and siblings. I was depressed and really angry; angry with myself, angry with God, angry with my parents, angry with everyone I ever came in contact with; because to a large extent nobody ever gave me a chance. What made it worse for me was that I had a lot on my mind and I didn’t have anyone I could talk to. I was the black sheep of the family, the outcast. So, I never felt welcome anywhere. I look at people with suspicion.

In between writing JAMB Exams and failing I wanted to prove to my parents and everyone around me that I can make something out of my life without their support, so I went out to get a job. I had worked as a Nursery school teacher, I worked in a Pharmacy, and I worked in a Restaurant. Just to make a point. And the whole idea about making a point was borne out of anger and resentment for my parents and siblings. I just wanted to “show them”. So, I’ll buy myself some nice shirts and sneakers and nice cologne. In retrospect, I was also working to hide my failure. Before, you draw any conclusion; I was a maniac when it comes to reading. I always read for my JAMB Exams like mad. But, each time I always fail.

So, I battled with depression and low self-esteem for a very long time. I never felt I was good enough for anything in life. I considered suicide a couple of times. But, when bouts of depression overwhelm me, somewhere on the inside of me, I feel a certain hope that I should try again, that tomorrow will be better, that God has something in stock for me. So, I kept at it.

I got into University when a sizable number of my mates were in Grad school. I was ashamed and angry. I just used to run away from them, I hide when I see them, because I didn’t feel good enough.

Because I love to read, I read the Bible quite a lot, just out curiosity and to engage in silly debates. In the course of my reading I realized I’m created in the image of Christ, so I said to myself that-“if indeed I’m created in the image of God, God wasn’t a failure”. Yes, I failed but, I’m not a failure and I’m not going to attempt to wrap it around some Socratic Philosophy. And I started praying and studying the Bible more diligently, though occasional thoughts of failure would taunt me. Somehow, I kept at it. Each time such thoughts come I’ll pray and use God’s word to console myself, so I found great solace in praying and reading the Bible.

Today, I look back at my life and I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful to my parents and I love them to death- my mum has gone to be with the Lord, my father and I talk a lot now, even though back then, he never gave me a chance. My siblings and I a bit close; I still struggle a bit in accepting them because of the way they made fun of me and ostracized me. In those years of failure, I learnt tenacity, hard work, determination, courage, faith, hope and commitment. Today, my colleagues marvel at my sense of commitment and hard work to job that pays “very little”. I keep at it because I know there’s a tomorrow and it’ll be better. I keep telling myself and my lovely wife-“things will not always be like this for us”.

I’m grateful to Naomi for starting this discourse and I’m hoping that someone somewhere will look at failure and mistakes of the past and shut the door at it and move on; because tomorrow looks better! Thank you Naomi and God bless you richly.

Naomi Lucas said...

I don't even know what to say to you anon. You wrote JAMB 8 times? My God! I thank you sincerely for taking time out to drop a comment. I pray those who are discouraged find strength from your story.