I was a cripplingly shy boy. Always the outcast. I looked like Mowgli when I was a kid — If Mowgli scowled at everything in the jungle. My father is African/Indian and my mother Italian/Irish. Interestingly, certain phenotypical traits associated with my heritage came to the surface as my body changed. As a young whipper snapper, I was incredibly self conscious about my appearance. Thick curls of wavy black hair fell over my chubby face. I hated the way I looked, and looked at everybody like I hated them. My childhood was a veritable shit storm. Too long a story to tell, but it certainly made my introversion worse. I became a shadow. I likely came off very strange in primary school. I was sensitive, awkward and emotional. After several failed attempts at establishing friendships, I was avoided completely.
The most predominant feeling that permeated my life for many years, was envy. People, young and old, seemed fulfilled. They seemed intelligent and emotionally stable, whereas I second guessed every thought I had and every word I wanted to say. I was incredibly apprehensive. Performance anxiety infected everything I did. As I grew older, the other children grew in confidence. Teenagers, as I observed, were incredibly self-assured. Even the ones that weren’t, had their moments. There was no emotional territory where I came alive. No area of life where I felt comfortable.
Is self confidence something you learn? Or something you acquire through the experience of growing up in a specific environment? For me personally, confidence, that mythical attribute, was something I found, lost and re-discovered.
As a child I was an introvert, but as my teenage years progressed, I metamorphized from an awkward frumpy prepubescent boy, into a slightly more comfortable pubescent young man. Strangely enough, my transition was helped by a seemingly vapid cultural phenomenon — the Twilight Saga.
Team Jacob, the faction of Twilight fandom who favoured the guy with brown skin over the pasty ass vampire, inadvertently made someone of my complexion and physical traits a more desirable romantic option. I don't have the chiseled abs and good looks of Taylor Lautner, but there is a racial ambiguity to me that worked in my favour at that cultural moment.