It came as a surprise to many. Mostly the people that know me best , my family, my friends, my coworkers. How does a shy, self proclaimed tomboy decide to participate in a beauty pageant? For me it was simply the challenge that drew me in, the ability to take on something I thought I wasn’t cut out for and to own it.. I also wanted to meet new people, young Africans, my age.
To be honest, I have been shy for most part of my life. Plagued with to much awareness of others opinions and doubtful of my abilities, I always made myself somewhat invisible. Catering to everyone’s needs but forgetting my own. Always afraid of being judged I kept my opinions (numerous as they where) to myself. Before I signed up for the competition I had already began taking steps to better myself, to raise my self esteem and to conquer my inner doubtfulness. So joining the competition was simply an extension of what I had already started. I took the decision and sent in the application. Then, later, proceeded to worry about what I had just done. The call came in one morning, I found myself excited and nervous all at once…. Did they really call me back ? ‘’”oh Naima what did you get yourself into again?’’’’ ”
As I contemplated sharing the news with my family and friends, I thought to myself ” is this really you, do you really want to do this ?’’”. I ignored that little voice that had a tendency of stopping me in the past and I went for it . Fast forward a few weeks, I was a finalist, I had met an incredible crew of Rwandan dancers (Umurage) and I was getting more attention then I had ever experienced before. I was overwhelmed, in a good way , but nonetheless overwhelmed. Let me remind you, I had never been in the limelight ,I always took pride in letting/helping others shine (I still do ). But this time it was different, there was no one to hide behind, it was me myself and I.
The big day came, chaos everywhere, make-up, hair, heels and smile! We would hustle so much backstage and come out on stage looking like queens. Graceful, elegant and confident each of us strutted. As I stood in front of the mirror waiting for my turn to take the stage , the little voice asked me ”‘’what if you mess up Naima?’’”. I smirked and thought to myself, what if I did ?, would it be the end of the world? Would the people judging me have been able to take my place? Would they have had the courage?…filled with pride and confidence (yes I had gained a lot of it at this point) I decided to go rock the stage and do my best . It was now or never so I pushed all negative thoughts to the side and continued on my stride. The show must go on ..and so it did ! I will forever be thankful to all the people that helped me, that supported me and that encouraged me. They helped me realise that the potential has always been there but i was the one to either hide it or let it shine. I feel like I am ready to take on bigger challenges now, I would really love to work with the women’s center in Rwanda. I also plan on going back home this summer for the first time since we left.
I am long overdue- Rwanda see you soon… Oh yes, and the little voice..…it is on mute these days!