Bibi's Essay: Self-creation

The little insecurities grew inside me like cancer. As time went by it only progressed because it was left untreated. I was starting lose myself even before I got the chance to create myself. No one noticed because I was getting unexceptionally good at hiding it.

Self-image – it's not something that I was ever concerned about; in fact, I wasn't even aware of its existence. That is, until I moved to the United States at the age of nine. I was the odd kid in the classroom because looked different and talked different, and it escaped no one's attention. Everyone noticed. All the kids would point it out, and I would go home, look in front of the mirror only to confirm the things they said were true. I grew quiet. I didn't interact with anyone outside of home. At home I was very bubbly because it was the only place I was able to be myself. When 1 would talk outside of home, I would act inferior because I was very accustomed to others treating me as their inferior. I lost every ounce of confidence. For four years I was around the same people. In the middle of the seventh grade I changed schools. I was happy about changing schools, because I thought I'd be able to develop a new identity for myself, but that's not what 1 did. With every step that I took, I changed myself into someone that everyone would be content being around. I was too occupied with making everyone happy. Unconsciously, I would always second-guess myself in everything because I didn't have the confidence to think I could do anything right. My mental state was very unsteady. I was very unhappy with myself. I found ways to cope with the unhappiness. Without knowing what it was I developed an eating disorder at the age of thirteen. I started by starving myself for three long days and slowly it progressed to me eating but throwing it all up. I did feel a bit happy, seeing I finally had control over something, but that was only temporary because I had also developed depression. I wasn't able to confront anyone in my family about it because to them having an eating disorder or depression was a first world problem that they've never heard of I knew I had a problem, but I don't think I ever clearly admitted it to myself. 

I wasn't aware that I was suffering from depression all this time along with an eating disorder until recently when I started attending therapy sessions. The reason for this awareness is because of that one day when we, the Athena's girls, were taken to the High Museum of Art to watch the screening of the documentary Miss Representation. I felt intrigued by it, because I was able to relate to many of the issues presented in the documentary, including eating disorders.

After watching it, we had a group discussion about the issues, and I got caught up in the moment and shared the struggle that I was facing for the past five years. I don't know how I managed to share something personal like that with a room full of people who were mostly strangers to me, but I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulder that 1 didn't even know was there. I created an emotional barrier between me and everyone, so that no one will ever suspect anything is wrong with me, but in a matter of seconds I let that barrier crumble down because after watching the documentary I felt as if I wasn't being fair to myself by keeping a secret that was slowly consuming me. After sharing my story the room was completely silent because it was very unexpected, the kind of silence that made me feel like I wasn't alone. Suffering from an eating disorder and depression are problematic issues in the long run, which I acknowledged but never thought of seeking help. Being able express myself that day made a world of difference because I was kind of forced to seek help, forced in a positive way. This is still a day-to-day struggle for me, but I am one step ahead than I was before Athena's Warehouse. There is something new within me, something that wasn't there before, and that is hope, hope of overcoming this.

Having a support system is crucial when one is trying to overcome such struggles, and that's one of the most important benefit that I received from Athena's Warehouse, the support system. The Athena's girls who were with me at the Museum were very supportive. In all the workshops I felt very united with all the girls in the program because that's what Athena's does; it creates a sense of unity that empower us together.

Honors Day Cross Keys 2013_Bibi.jpg

I may be a little late into the game, but I am finally starting to create myself because I have learned not to let others dictate me. I have come in terms with myself, because I am learning not to be ashamed of myself anymore. Women are more likely to fall in the trap of being subjugated because there is a "perfect image" of how they are supposed to be, and that's the trap that I fell into. I let others tell me how I should be. I have learned how to not fall into that trap anymore through Athena's Warehouse. After my experience with the Athena's Warehouse, to any women out there, I would say, "There will always be little bumps in your way to hinder you from reaching your goal; there will always be someone who you will tell that you are not capable of achieving something because you are weak. Don't start believing those little lies because you are stronger than you think you are."

There is something new within me, something that wasn’t there before, and that is hope, hope of overcoming this.