“Yo? No soy guapa!”

If there is one thing about me that my friends and colleagues already know by now is I refuse to be praised.

When I walk in the office in the morning and they see something different in me – a made-up face, perhaps, or a new shirt or blouse, or I tied my hair differently – and they start saying that I look nice? I flinch. And say “no.” That I don’t.

When I get commended on something that I did good, or if they found out that I passed a difficult exam (again), or that I have a quick and good memory (which I know I possess, haha!) and I get praised for that? I flinch. And I say “no.” That I do not.

Crazy eh, I know. But that is me.

When I was growing up, I was so skinny, and ugly (and well, lived just a little bit below the poverty line and had to depend on relatives to survive). I really envy my classmates, or my friends, who are pretty and cute and not thin and had both parents to shower them with love and care. In order for me not to get bullied for appearing like how I appeared when I was younger than now, I made sure that I excelled in school. (Though excelling came naturally at that, haha!). And to be even more sure that I don’t get stepped upon? I became a bully myself. I bullied people. My close friends.

Imagine you walking with your bestfriends when suddenly you saw one of them stop walking and just started to cry? Why? Because you already said something that hurt your bestfriend’s feeling.

Eventually after that, I found out that I have gone overboard. Then I was back to my old self. Cheerful. And crazy. The me that my friends see in me right now.

When I was growing up, I remembered hearing not so nice words from some relatives. They may have forgotten them already. But I did not. I think, never. Some called me “negra (black), pangit (ugly), payatot (skinny), etc.” Words that I believed. And do until now.

Be careful with the words that you tell to children. They may never forget them.

I know it is not nice. Not for me, nor for my family.

One thing I know, and I found out: I might then be beautiful after all. I found myself a good-looking and good-natured man who willingly became the father of my child. And Zoë. She is just so beautiful.

And she came from me.

negra (Spanish/Tagalog) – a black person
pangit (Tagalog) – ugly
payatot (Tagalog) – came from payat – thin, skinny

“Yo? No soy guapa!” (Spanish) – “Me?  I am not beautiful!”


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