I was in a boarding school and whenever we got back, I would quietly eavesdrop on my roommates’ conversations about how they had met their boyfriends, gone out on dates, and kissed.
Some of the stories were unfathomable to my timid mind – one girl told her friend how her boyfriend kissed her on her lips, neck, navel, and then down there.
I was shocked. While I was spending my holidays going for church camps – which was the only place I felt accepted – there were girls who were experiencing the fun that comes with blossoming into a young woman.
‘Why doesn’t anyone notice me?’ I would always ask myself.
I would be left at a corner, sticking out like a sore thumb – the fat, geeky girl no boy noticed.
It took a toll on my self-esteem and I started looking for ways to fit in. During the next holidays, I decided to shake things up. It was time for me to stop being a spectator in the relationship game and become a participant.
My parents frequently travelled and I was often left with our househelp, so one weekend when they were away, I decided to visit one of those night clubs I had heard about. For ‘grown ups’. You know the ones, where girls fake their IDs and pretend to be over 21 to get in?
But I didn’t need to make a fake ID – I had often been told my weight made me look at least 5 years older. So despite only being 16, I checked in at the club without the bouncer asking for identification. I just walked in.
I took a seat at a counter and it didn’t take long before I courted someone’s attention; albeit for the wrong reasons. I was skimpily dressed – I wore a mini skirt and my cleavage was out for everyone to see.
I was excited by the attention and one thing led to another.
I went to his house and had unprotected sex. It was nothing like I had imagined. I didn’t like it. It was painful and rushed.
And the guy chased me out of his house after he was done.
When I went back to school, I didn’t talk about what happened. I thought I would feel proud to tell the story, but I was embarrassed.
Week after week passed and I didn’t get my period. And all of a sudden, I started to feel nauseated.
When we closed for the holidays, the first thing our househelp did when she saw me was pull me aside and ask if I was pregnant. I thought she was crazy.
But when I googled for early pregnancy signs, I seemed to tick every box.
I was scared stiff. But our househelp was comforting – she had become more of a mother to me since my parents were hardly ever at home. She bought me a pregnancy test and told me how to use it. And my worst fears were confirmed – I was pregnant at 16, just a year before I completed high school.
Why?! I couldn’t even remember the father’s name, nor did I have his phone number.
Fast forward, I broke the news to my parents, dropped out of school and gave birth to a boy. My parents were disappointed, but strangely enough, they supported me.
I had postpartum depression (PPD), or postnatal depression, and wanted my baby to disappear. Then I hated my body more than I had before. If I was fat before, I now felt like an ogre; I was obese and had stretchmarks everywhere – on my stomach, thighs, legs, and arms.
The thought of going back to school terrified me. But I did. And hated every bit of it. Girls were getting ready to enjoy their lives, while there I was – a mother at 17. I was bitter.
When I completed high school, I stayed at home most days and even contemplated suicide, but I didn’t have the guts to go through with it.
I didn’t want to go to college, so my mother reached out to one of her contacts and got me a job at a PR firm. But my mind was not at peace as I thought about how I was missing out on life.
So I skipped work so many times that I got fired.
One day I just woke up and told myself I couldn’t keep living like this. I had messed up, but I had to take control of my life.
I enrolled for college and thanks to our supportive househelp who took care of my baby, I was able to focus on school and I graduated and got a job.
This time I was focussed.
It has been six years now and I’m now comfortable in my skin. I am nothing like I used to be – that shy girl with no self-esteem is dead and gone.
Sometimes I think things fell apart so they could come together.