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In my second year at University, I took a lot of pictures. It was probably the time in my life when I took the most pictures. Every Saturday I wore makeup and packed my bags with different outfits and headed out to any cute spots within the school with a friend or two to take pictures. I did this literally every Saturday till med school happened.
Things got serious, life started moving fast, exams started coming up and I had to shift my priorities to make time for what really mattered — my academics. Second-year rounded up, third year came and went by as well.
“Oh, Ozioma, You no longer take pictures as you used to” — this is what a lot of people who knew me in that phase of my life say now and then I’d remind them how busy my life has gotten lately. While that may be true and in actuality I’ve moved past the stage of Friday location scouting and bugging my friends to come take pictures of me, that’s not the entire truth.
In the transition from second to third year, I hit a roadblock in my eye health. I’d later come to learn that this problem had always existed but was latent and mismanaged from the time it started becoming evident. I developed strabismus (crossed eyes, lazy eyes, whichever term you prefer) which at the time presented as blur vision and my primary eye care provider upped my prescription as opposed to running tests as any healthcare provider. This cycle continued till I learned on my own and with the help of some students in my school that, that wasn’t the line of treatment for strabismus.
When I learned that this was going to be my life for the foreseeable future as most of the doctors I had visited either had no idea what I was talking about but acted like they did, gaslit me, or misdirected me, I became extremely self-conscious — something I have never been in my life. Not a lot of things trigger insecurities or feelings of inadequacy in me but having to navigate now having strabismus made my self-confidence go down the drain.
I went from being the girl who could stare someone down and even engage in a starring competition to being the one who could barely look anyone in the eye except they’re within my normal range of vision. Then slowly, I stopped taking pictures, especially those that require the camera to be completely far off my vision range and this left me very few options. I hated the way the pictures were going to turn out, so I stopped doing it altogether. I forgot that the reason why I took a lot of pictures in 2019 wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to but also because it made me happy, I had something to look forward to and it was an escape from the chaos that is living in the hostel.
I stopped doing something that made me happy. Last year I bought a tripod and today for the first time ever, I used it to take pictures of myself. I let out happy laughs while doing it and this happiness lingered even when I was done. It felt good to feel that way again.
These feelings of self-consciousness, insecurity, etc is a familiar feeling for most people. It could be stirred up due to a lot of different things. In the past I’ve struggled with insecurities as it relates to my weight/stature and acne.
Admitting insecurities is okay, what is not is carrying the shame and guilt of what you didn’t do or inflict on yourself and like how the kind man in market square made sure he told me he loved my eyes probably because He noticed me struggling with squints and blinking severally not only to hide the strabismus but also so my brain and eyes can form a clear single clear image, I’m also telling you that YOU are beautiful.
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