My friend, Lovina, loves herself in more degrees than I have ever seen. She literally adores herself and sometimes it borders on disturbing.
I remember the first time I met her. She was standing in front of the full-length mirror on a floor of our undergraduate hostel. She was talking to herself. With curiousity, I approached her and stood adjacent her acting as though I was using the mirror as well. I heard her say, ‘Mehn. This hair is so set. I love it. Funny enough it’s not even Aunty Dupe’s hand that made it fine, it’s the shape of my face. Any hair I carry will be fine. Hairdressers’ dream. Love it!’
I was shocked. I did not even realize that I was staring at her with my mouth wide open until she snapped her fingers at me and asked me what I was looking at. Before I could answer, she said, ‘I made the hair downstairs with Aunty Dupe. Plus weavon, everything costs N4,500. Just tell her the hair Lovina made. She will know. I’m sure many people have already gone to tell her the same thing. Abi do you want me to follow you there?’
I realized that she’s actually a really nice person. She just also really loves herself.
When we became friends, I was able to share some of my esteem issues with her. She was baffled and confused as to how I could possibly not be confident in myself. According to her, ‘if you don’t believe in yourself that you know, how can you believe in someone you don’t know?’
I told her ‘Well, precisely so. I know all my flaws and so it’s harder for me to believe that I can do anything great or be someone worth anything phenomenal’
She looked dazed. For the first time since I met her she stammered and said, ‘I-I am just really confused o. How can you leave yourself and love someone else? It’s like living in a dumpster and carrying broom and packer to someone’s house to help them sweep and clean up. It’s like ignoring your wife in labour and going to hospitals to help strangers deliver their babies. Me, I don’t understand. You have to change this behavior or else we will fight’
When she put it that way, it became easier for me to believe more in myself.
One funny time, she told me she was going to inform her crush about her feelings for him. I thought it was a bad idea. She asked me to follow her so she’ll show me how it’s done. When we saw him, she said, ‘Hey Ali. Hi. I want to tell you something that may sound a little awkward but if you think about it very well, it’s really a blessing in disguise. The thing is this: I like you very much and I think we should date. What do you think?’
The young man looked so embarrassed and cornered that he slapped the back of one hand against the upward-facing palm of the other hand and blurted, ‘Lovina. I don’t like you like that’ Then as an afterthought, he added an awkward ‘I’m sorry‘
I wanted to enter the ground for my friend until she looked at Ali and I saw concern on her face. She sat down beside him and wrapped an arm around him and said, ‘Ali. What’s wrong? Why don’t you like yourself?’
I almost fell on the floor laughing that day.
I agree that there are huge negative implications of this behavior of my friend; like how she can get so full of herself and oblivious to her flaws and shortcomings; like how this mindset of hers may negatively affect her relationships with man and with God; like how pride can easily settle in her heart; and so on.
But I’ll also agree that Lovina’s attitude breaks the negativity in the age-long and generationally-handed down hypocritical advocation for false modesty. She has taught me to cheer myself if no one is cheering me; to have time for myself when no one has time for me; to compliment myself to counter the harsh words people speak to me; to love my appearance enough to spend time looking good; to love myself enough to spend time improving on my skills and learning new things; and to appreciate my efforts even when no one is looking.