HAPPY BEING MYSELF

"It helped me to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives.”

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Everyone is unique. That’s why it’s so important to appreciate one another and never underestimate ourselves. Doing so can boost our self-confidence and ensure we achieve our goals. Meet Claudine, Aline and Modeste from Rulindo district – three young people who attended a workshop and discovered the secret to healthy self-esteem and being happy with who you are. The training helped them to find happiness and ignore those who had made fun of the way they look.

My name is Claudine, and I am 24 years old. When I was 14, I began to feel ashamed about the shape of my legs. It all started when people told me that I had muscular legs. Whenever anyone stared at me, I thought they were looking at my legs. It hurt me so much that I would only wear clothes that covered my legs.

At 18, I was invited to a workshop that encouraged young girls to be confident and happy with themselves. We were taught to focus on our positives, and what I learnt changed my life for the better. At first, I couldn’t believe what they were saying. But when they told us about other people’s experiences, I understood that my insecurities were overshadowing all the other good things and the strengths I have. From that day on, I haven’t let other people’s opinions influence how I feel about myself.

Claudine didn’t keep what she learnt to herself. Instead, she shared what she learnt with other Ni Nyampingas.

My name is Aline, and I am 16 years old. My teeth are not straight and they are quite big. In the past, my classmates said there was something wrong with my teeth. Some of them even told me to go to the doctor to have them removed, while others said I should hide them. I began to cover my mouth when I laughed, or I chose to not laugh at all.

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When I was elected Head Girl at my school, I went to the headmaster to say I wasn’t feeling confident. I told the headmaster I was afraid to speak in public because I hated doing anything where people could see my teeth.

Even though I often caught up with Claudine to talk about self-esteem, I didn’t really understand what she meant. Then one day, we were given homework to describe the difference between how we feel about ourselves and other people’s perceptions of us. Everyone shared how they felt about themselves, and I realised my teeth didn’t bother me. Doing that exercise really helped me to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives.

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My name is Modeste, and I am 15 years old. One day in class, a student behind me told me my ears were blocking their view. When I looked in the mirror at home, I realised my ears were really big. I started sitting behind everyone, and I avoided crowded places. But when I sat at the back of the class I couldn’t focus, and my grades really suffered. It was then that Claudine asked me what was wrong, and I opened up to her. She listened, comforted me with her own story and told me how she didn’t dwell on her insecurities.

Since that day, we meet up regularly to talk about how I feel. I came to understand that my ears were not the issue, but rather it was believing the perceptions of others. The group exercises also showed me that the size of your ears doesn’t affect your hearing.

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Claudine, Aline, and Modeste sum it up well: however how we look, short or tall, everyone is special and worthy.

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