Accepting our true identity despite judgments
Only during a particular period of our lives will we learn to accept and understand our true identity. Though some may be unaware of this, the whole concept of “identity” and “self-acceptance” is introduced to us at an early age. Usually, the starting point in our journey towards finding out who we are, as individuals, begins during our adolescence. For some people, this journey may contain numerous obstacles, such as being judged by others, that require a person with a strong spirit and high self-esteem in order to overcome them. However, in order to strengthen ones spirit and develop high self-esteem within, one must begin to accept what others view as “flaws”. Whether a person is judged based on physical appearance or mental capacity, that person must learn to detect the difference between opinions and facts. Only then will he or she fully understand and accept their true identity. Furthermore, when a person truly accepts their identity, it is then that everyone is able to see the greatness within him or her. An absolutely perfect example of finding and accepting ones identity is “Zarah the Windseeker” by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. Though “Zarah the Windseeker” is indeed fiction, it is by far one of the most highly relatable books when dealing with self-acceptance and identity.
Primarily, the overall tale begins with an extremely unique teenage girl named Zarah. One of the most extraordinary qualities that Zarah has is her lovely dada hair, or rather her dada locks that contain vines wrapped around them. From the moment she is born, her parents are proud to admit that their daughter is indeed a dada girl. Papa Grip, the chief of Kirki, also seems to believe that being dada is a positive quality for Zarah. “You were born dada. Embrace it, he said. There aren’t many of you in Ooni. You’re the first ever born in this town. Be proud (Zarah the Windseeker, pg. 4).” However, Zarah seems to think different due to all the teasing done by a group of kids at school. Though Zarah is continuously reminded of the great wisdom that she will acquire as she grows older, because she is dada, she remains doubtful. “Didn’t your parents ever tell you that anyone born dada is destined to be a wise man or woman (pg. 4)?” “I didn’t feel wise at all. And I definitely wasn’t a woman. I was only thirteen years old. And regardless of what Papa Grip said, my hair would still make me the laughing stock at school (pg. 5).” As we go about our daily activities, we sometimes tend to make the mistake of absorbing people’s opinions , of how we look, speak, or think, and we transform them into pure facts about ourselves. Consequently, our mind becomes so accustomed to the negative criticisms that it can’t help but remind us of our numerous “flaws”. One of the first steps in accepting ones true identity is learning how to stop allowing our negative thoughts to control what we believe is true about ourselves.
An article entitled “Accepting yourself no matter what” by Barbara Rose is a fine example of ceasing to think negatively about ones “self”. “It’s easy to destroy. It’s easy to allow all kinds of negative thoughts run rampant within your mind. It’s also just as easy to consciously turn the table, and transform the flip side of the negative comment you have made about yourself. It only takes conscious awareness and practice (Accepting yourself no matter what by Barbara Rose).” In order to accept yourself, despite what others believe, you must remember that your biggest critic is…you. Though Zarah is continuously criticized by her classmates at school, she eventually becomes her worst critic. “I avoided looking at my dadalocks. Even if they were neatly tied back, they were
only a blemish to my appearance (pg. 18).” Zarah begins to think negatively about her physical appearance, due to her hair. However, she mostly criticizes her “inability” to become wise, overcome her fear of heights, and overall play her part as a Windseeker.
One of the primary steps that Zarah takes, in accepting herself the way she was born, is finding out that she is a Windseeker. Afterwards, she decides to do some research on Windseekers. With the help of her best friend Dari, Zarah begins to understand her identity as a windseeker. Only when Dari persuades her to practice her flying and seek advice from Nsibidi (a more experienced Windseeker), does Zarah begin to accept her identity. “Zarah, there are things about being a windseeker that are tough to handle, but that’s for when you’re a little older. For now, just know that you shouldn’t bother resisting the urges you’ll have. Now that you know what you are, be ready for things to start (pg. 71).” Aside from learning how to stop allowing our negative thoughts to control what we believe to be true about ourselves, we must also use our talents as forms of expression. “You can only feel the joy of life when your mind is free from self imposed
limitations and negative judgment. Be an example of you radiant self that does lie within, by being and sharing your greatest inner qualities, and bring those out. Focus on all of the good that you are, so that you will always feel good enough and accept yourself no matter what (Accepting yourself no matter what by Barbara Rose).” One of the few things that motivates Zarah to accept herself, and practice her extremely unique talent, is the borderline between life and death for her best friend Dari:
The moment the door shut, I leaned close to Dari’s ear and whispered, “I’m planning something.” I glanced behind me. “Don’t worry. Maybe I’m too afraid to fly, but I’m brave enough to save your life (pg. 118).”
Afterwards, Zarah begins her journey into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle in search for the antidote that will save Dari, that being the Elgort egg.
Having been informed that entering the Forbidden Greeny Jungle is dangerous and overall suicidal, Zarah does not allow fear to come in the way of saving her best friend’s life. In the Jungle, Zarah comes face to face with death approximately three times, but she manages to put up a good fight in each situation. For example, when she approached by a giant/deadly whip scorpion, Zarah uses the courage within her by using a simple rock as a weapon to blind the scorpion. Though she is lucky enough to have survived such a brutal battle, Zarah walks away with a poisonous mark on her arm. Two weeks after defeating the scorpion, Zarah is approached by two highly intelligent talking panthers. During this situation, Zarah uses her wisdom, that she has always doubted, as a tool for survival.
What reasons can I give them not to eat me? I wondered. I can tell them that I’m on a mission to save my best friend. But what will they care? They’ll probably want to eat Dari too. And so I took a chance and blurted out the strangest thing about myself. “Um… I can fly,” I said.” Sort of (pg. 196).”
Ironically, Zarah uses her identity as a defense mechanism. However, the pathers doubt Zarah’s unique ability. After Zarah demonstrates her rare talent, she is relieved to realize that she will not be killed.
There are particular moments in life that can be defined as rare opportunities. Whether or not we benefit from these rare opportunities depends on the impression we give of ourselves. There are people who sometimes try so hard to impress other important people, that they transform their overall identity into someone who is far from who they truly are. Consequently, they miss out on a lot, because they fail to realize that in order to make a good and memorable impression, one must be themselves. Lastly, Zarahs last confrontation with death is her most difficult one. Zarah’s overall goal, during her mission to save Dari, is obtain an unfertilized Elgort egg. By the time the Elgort begins to chase after Zarah and the egg, she becomes aware of what she must do to survive. In this particular situation, Zarah manages to use her wisdom, strength, talent, and overall courage all in once.
A thought echoed in my emptying mind. I’d been shy, introverted, lived my life up to the last few weeks cowering from the world. When people made fun of me, I would go home and hide in my room. I was born with a strange ability, and once again, I cowered from it. But look at how I’ve survived in this place, I thought. I’m not born to die like this (pg. 206).
After her epiphany, Zarah begins to fly higher than ever away from the Elgort. A few moment that she is far away from the Elgort, Zarah drops the egg. Ironically, the egg is safe, and Zarah bumps into her old friend the Speculating Speckled frog. By this time Zarah has truly accepted and understands her identity as a Windseeker.
“I’ve… I’ve learned so much about myself, what I’m capable of, about the world… you know, things. I’m stronger than I thought. Much stronger. I’m no longer afraid of heights (pg. 264).”
We come to realize our true capabilities, talents, strengths, and overall ability to use our potential to the fullest, during our most difficult moments in life. Whether it is getting a college degree, giving a good impression during a job interview, getting a promotion, and overall succeeding in life, we come realize who we truly are during and after these particular moments.
All in all, when a person truly understands and accepts his or her identity, it is then that the world is able to see the greatness within him or her. Although there isn’t one person that can honestly say that he or she has been in the exact situations as the character Zarah, we can all say that we have had our battles, doubts, achievements. All it takes to arrive a self-acceptance is strong will power, a strong spirit, and high self-esteem. Furthermore, lets not forget that knowing the difference between the facts and opinions about yourself are also important in self-acceptance. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
There are some who believe that the past experiences of a person are the building blocks that created the person they are today. Our experiences, whether positive or negative, have major effects on the way we think about, feel towards, and obtain information during certain periods of our lives. Children’s literature has been shown to be highly efficient and effective in teaching young children their reading skills. In addition, children’s books introduce both the elements and themes of literature to those who have been newly introduced to the reading world. As a child, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity of having numerous books introduced to me. My overall fascination for reading was strongly influenced by my mother. Lastly, I must also acknowledge my school counselor Ms. Sharron, who always introduced me to a huge variety of genres and authors. I can recall my very first reading experience as though it were yesterday.
Although my mother did not go to college, she always had this extremely unique thirst for knowledge. When I was born, my mother made sure that she was well prepared with age appropriate books. By the time I had turn three years old, I had about fifty picture books on my bookshelf. Some of my most favorite books on the shelf were “Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans, “I am bunny” by Ole Rinson, “Curious George” by H.A. Rey, and“Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes. By age four I grew a deep desire for reading and I wanted to read at least one book on my own. My mother smiled proudly when I asked her to teach me how to read and she handed me my most favorite book of all “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). Since I knew this particular picture book by memory, I tried to impress my mother by acting as if I already knew how to read it all by myself; however, my attempt to fool my mother was rather illusive. As the days passed by, I would sit with my mother in the living room for about three hours a day with a picture book in my hand, and I would begin to read. As my mother and I practiced reading each day, I had eventually become a very strong
reader. However, things began to change for the worst when I turned five.
At age five, I was beginning to love books almost as much as my mother did. There were times that I believed myself to be more enthusiastic about reading than my mother was, but little did I know that her health was at risk. My mother was born with a terminal disease called Cystic fibrosis, and it became too severe at age 24. Consequently, my mother was hospitalized for months. During that time, I had decided to read to her on every hospital visit, because being read to made her smile. On my last visit to the hospital, I read her one of my favorite picture books “Guess how much I love you” by Sam McBratney. She passed away shortly after. As a result, I went to live with my maternal grandmother.
My maternal grandmother, Aida, was an extremely old-fashioned and strict person. She become my legal guardian two years after my mothers death. We didn't get along very well and would fight more and more the older I became. Coperal punishment occured on a regular basis and I never understood the reasons behind it as a child. As I got older, I became so prone to beatings that they stopped fazing me. By age nine I grew a deep interest in books about young girls who portrayed determination, sagacity, bravery, and strength. As a result I began reading books like “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh, “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O'Dell, and “Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede. Things were going fine until I began Junior high school.
By age 12 I was getting a little bored with reading books about girls my age; however, my school library wasn’t well equipped with books for young adults. So, I decided to begin my very own book about my life experiences. However, I didn’t realize that I was way too young to have any real life experiences. Thus, I began to make up stories about what I wanted to do in the world before I died. Everything was going fine until a bully named Anthony, from my Math class, decided to steal my book and read it out loud for the whole class. My Math teacher was in the room at the time, and when she heard Anthony read my book she thought it was best for me to receive counseling. She sent me to a woman named Bridgett Sharron. Ms. Sharron began to read my book, and she didn’t say a word for 10 whole minutes. I thought I was going to be expelled from school, but Ms. Sharron reassured me that I wouldn’t be. Afterwards, she told me that everyone was making a huge fuss over my very imaginative form of expression. She then asked me if I liked to read, and when I said yes she handed me a book called “Chicken soup for the teenage soul” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger , and Mitch Claspy. As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, I began to go to Ms. Sharron for books. I had great admiration and respect for Ms. Sharron because she treated me as a young adult rather than a small child. Thanks to this fabulous woman, I began reading books like “Sybil” by Flora Schreiber and psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, “A child called it” by Dave Pelzer, “Flowers in the attic” by Virginia Andrews, “Of mice and men” by John Steinbeck, “Night” by Elie Wiesel and numerous plays by William Shakespeare.
In summary, I consider myself a believer in the saying “the past experiences of a person are the building blocks to which he or she has become today”. For if I didn’t have my mother’s influence, the obstacles from my grandmother, and the supervision of Ms. B. Sharron, then I wouldn’t even be attending college right now. I consider myself not only lucky, but overall blessed for my past experiences. In addition, if I were to ever have the opportunity of changing anything in my past, I would choose to keep it the way it was, because changing the past would signify changing myself, and that is just not an option.