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 , pg. 4)." However, Zarah seems to think different due to all the teasing done by a the Windseeker 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 defense mechanism. However, the panthers 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, let’s not forget that knowing the difference between the facts and opinions about yourself are also important in self-acceptance. As Eleanor Rooseveltonce said, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi." Zahrah The Windseeker." Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Rose, Barbara, Ph.D. "Accepting yourself no matter what." 9 November 2007.