While I was interviewed last week, in a pageant, I was asked what my biggest insecurity was.
Although my initial thought was: Wow, what really is my biggest insecurity?
My next thought was: Well, where do I begin?
A rush of thoughts consumed my mind. Well, I’m insecure about how my stomach pokes out of the sides of my pants sometimes. I’m insecure about these little fly-away hairs that won’t stay down no matter how much hairspray I put in my hair. I’m insecure about how whenever I go tanning, my knees get darker than my legs and I feel like I look weird. I’m insecure about how big my knuckles are, because I always have to buy rings that are too big for me. (Who wants to be known as a “big” girl anyways, right?)
Then it hit me..
My biggest insecurity is how I constantly feel inadequate. I never feel enough.
This literally goes for everything in my life.
Ever since I was a little girl, I was made fun of for being half Samoan. The kids at my school bullied me because I looked different from them – I had big, curly hair. I had different-colored skin. I was taller and bigger than all of the boys (I learned later that they hit their growth spurt a little later than females do, phew!). But that was the thing – I was different. I was made fun of, because I looked different, and because I truly was different. I never felt enough for anyone, because the “friends” I had didn’t stick up for me. They stopped claiming me as their friend at some points, because of what others thought of me. I was inadequate for their friendship.
On the other side of that, I was made fun of for not being full Samoan. Some people made hurtful remarks pointing out the fact that I couldn’t claim being Samoan, because I didn’t look like it. Or because I didn’t have full Samoan blood running through my veins. I was left out of events and even laughed at many times when I tried to involve myself every now and then. These were some people I considered family. These were some people I considered blood. And I was inadequate for their idea of culture.
Some of the first churches I ever grew to know and consider my second home, would judge me and my family for numerous reasons. The one place I felt like I needed to be a second home and a safe place ended up being a place that I grew scared to step foot in. If you don’t accept me, does God? Is what you’re saying about me and my family true? I was inadequate for what felt like God at the moment.
Friends came and went for me as I grew older, as many people know that your circle becomes slimmer as you age. But the people I considered my best friends at some points either didn’t support me when I achieved a goal, kicked me while I was down, or worse, were involved with sabotaging my name. This was huge in high school, so you can imagine my frustration at the time. All I could think about, though, was who is truly my friend? Did I have any? Why don’t they like me? Again, I was inadequate for their friendship.
I was a pretty good student in high school. I maintained a high GPA up until I graduated, but once I got to college, my grades slipped. I’m not talking about going from A’s to B’s. I’m talking about going from A’s to D’s and F’s. While everyone around me was preparing for the next quarter’s classes and even getting accepted into their majors, I was struggling tremendously to simply just pass my classes so I could stay at my university. I didn’t get accepted into my major at first. I almost dropped out multiple times, and when life would hit (stress, my brother passing away, life-threatening relationship, etc.) I felt like there was no hope. No matter what I did, my grades were never how they were before I got to this place. I was inadequate for this university.
When it came to love, I felt like I continuously hit a brick wall. I’ve been in 3 serious relationships. All three dealt with issues of infidelity, and the last one being a combination of that and domestic abuse. My heart was built from a loving, warm family. I am a giver, often times too much. And I love with everything that I am. The very, very few times someone knocked my hard exterior down, and got to face this love deep inside of me, my heart was tossed around like a toy. Other women were always relevant, because these men would allow them to be. Whether it was text messages, likes on Instagram, or full-blown FaceTime dates and casual meet-ups, I was torn apart by these. My thoughts immediately were: Obviously, these are the women he likes. What does she have that I don’t? It was then, that I began to feel not enough for him. She was thinner. She was more popular. She was less popular. She dressed better. She was an athlete. She was everything I was not. I was inadequate for him.
Facing these harsh realities just made me think, Will I ever be enough? Whether it was being enough for my friends, family, significant other, University authorities, pageant judges, whoever – will I ever be enough?
The answer is maybe, and maybe not. But the most beautiful part about me noticing my possible inadequacies, I also noticed something else. My life is the complete and absolute epitome of God turning something so bad into something so, so much more fulfilling and simply better.
Being made fun of because of the color of my skin made me realize that the problem was not me. The problem is the fact that there is still injustice in regards to racism within America, and I plan to use the beautiful, colored woman I am to alter demographics and stereotypes wherever I go and with whatever I do.
Me being half-Samoan is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I’m extremely proud of it. I get to experience and embrace one of the most beautiful cultures on the planet. And I couldn’t be any more proud to have represented Samoan people the way I have and continue to represent each day I wake up.
I realized the hard way that those who judge you, you need to pray for. You need to love them. God made no mistake with me, you, or them, and for that reason, you are enough. When I felt inadequate, I had to face the fact that THAT was when I needed God the most.
People come and go in your life for REASONS. Your friends now may not make it to be your friends in the future. I had issues with friends in the past so I could truly appreciate the friendships I have now. I have no doubt in my mind that the circle I have created for myself today includes anyone with ulterior motives. When I am happy, they lift me up. When I am down, they offer a hand. When I am in need, they are there. In a heartbeat. What more could I ask?
Although I may not have gone through college as valedictorian, or with honors, I still graduated from my university with the best grades that I could. I may have began with D’s, but I ended up with A’s. I may have not been accepted into majors or classes because of my grades, but I met deadlines and made it to graduation on time. Now I hold a bachelor’s degree and I’m off to obtain two Master’s degrees this fall.
I have had my heart broken and torn to pieces, to realize that I need to love myself enough to let go when things are toxic. I have been cheated on, lied to, abused verbally and physically, all to realize that not everyone deserves to experience the woman I am. Not everyone who loves you, is good for you. Sometimes those who are bad for you are disguised as someone you’ve always dreamed of. It took those heartbreaks, the pain, and all those tears for me to realize that God made no mistake with me. And if this man can’t appreciate the woman I am and what I bring to the table, then I need to take it as a lesson learned, and continue to move forward with the woman God created me to be.
I am so far from perfect. And maybe I won’t be enough for everyone. But I’m learning that I need to be enough for me, and that’s where this insecurity will end. I’m okay with not being enough for them, her, or him. Because now I’m enough for me, and I’m completely unapologetic about that.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world.” -Marianne Williamson
(Photo: Pursuit of Portraits NYC)
-Keilani M Afalava