Comfortable in Your Own Shoes (Everygirl Empowered Foundation, Lagos; 2017) is Bolajoko Bayo-Ajayi’s latest book. It is on raising confident girls and women now and in the future. It is a handbook for girls, parents and guardians.
Bayo-Ajayi runs Everygirl Empowered Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to the empowerment of girls aged 11 to 16 years through platforms that will give them voices and build their confidence to become good leaders. The foundation is focused on girls as an enabler for the fulfillment of their potential.
Comfortable in Your Own Shoes is autobiographical since the author draws from personal experiences. She focuses on self-confidence, self-worth, belief in oneself and self-identity.
According to the author, other than knowledge, nothing can be used to fill the void of self-esteem.
Moreover, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-esteem are at the root of the adult failure going on in politics, civil service and business in Nigeria today.
Accordingly to her, to succeed in adult life, parents, teachers and guardians must build into the children and wards such attributes as self-confidence, self worth, self-belief and self-identity. A healthy self-confidence and self-worth are the cocktails for success in life.
If you don’t love and accept yourself just as you are, you are telling the world that you do not deserve their love and acceptance. Consequently, you may be abused and rejected.
She proposes that self-love begins with loving God, loving your parents and loving your neighbours. Self-esteem and self-confidence come from knowing who you are, accepting yourself as God created you and not comparing yourself with anyone else.
You must realise that you are unique, that you have only one authentic self and an original one of a kind. No one is like you; no duplicate; the only one model God ever created. No one else shares the same fingerprint with you, the same with your DNA.
‘The Girl-Child Dilemma’ in chapter two says that for many girls, lack of self-confidence is sown right from childhood, while for others it creeps in while growing up. Bayo-Ajayi corroborates this with the Greenberg-Lake Analysis Group’s research of 1991.
“Girls emerge from adolescence with a poor self-image, low expectations from life and much less confidence in themselves and their abilities than boys.”
That study found that at the age of nine, most girls were confident, assertive and feel positive about themselves. But by the time they get to secondary school, fewer than a third feel that way.
At the same time, the study confirms that boys also lose some sense of worth, but they end up far ahead of the girls. The boys in the survey were asked how often they felt “happy the way I am;” 67 per cent answered “always.” By secondary school, 46 per cent still felt that way.
But with girls, the figures dropped from 60 per cent to 29 per cent. Puberty was said to be responsible for the changes. Puberty takes its toll through the body changes. Sometimes a girl’s body changes so much that she finds it difficult to accept the person she has become.
Also, the modern age puts a lot of pressure on the young. The evolution of the digital space has changed the world to a global village. While this has numerous benefits, its many negative impacts weigh heavily on many individuals.
Previously, bullying could only be direct, but now, cyber bullying is in dangerous trend, where people hide behind the screens of their computer or cell phone to torture others.
Moreover, exposure to the Internet has brought a lot of deleterious exposure to girls. Thus, the impact of globalisation exposes girls to popular artistes who they want to model and fashion themselves after.
The downside of this struggle to fit with these personalities is the pressure they suffer to compromise.
It thus becomes the duty of the author to correct the misconceptions arising from globalisation, which the girl child cannot learn from parents or colleagues. This is where Comfortable in Your Own Shoes is valuable.
By reading it you gain the correct perspective without exposing your ignorance to your colleagues or showing your dilemma to your parents. Indeed, Bayo-Ajayi offers insight on how to help the girl child regain her composure after the vagaries puberty.
She informs us that research confirms that girls are three times more at risk of suffering from low self-confidence than boys. That low self-confidence is a handicap to successful achievement in life.