Egghead, Egghead

Describe an instance where you used a setback as an opportunity to grow

On September 25, 2010, my parents agreed that shaving my head would be an effective disciplinary measure against my growing indifference towards my studies. It was a scaldingly hot day in Lagos. My mother drove down the old Ikoyi bridge that would have formerly taken us to our home. I closed my eyes and imagined our car coming to rest at the rusty gates flanked by hedges of purple hibiscus flowers which had captivated my attention as an infant. When I opened my eyes, I saw, instead, the faded sign for a local barber’s shop.

I died within the four walls of the shop on that day. Death was the only description I could give to the langour I felt when I returned to school the following day. My hair had been shaved so close to my scalp that the exposed skin tingled. When I stepped into my classroom, everyone fell quiet. I flinched as a peal of laughter exploded in the back row. My friends could not bear to meet my eye: in our culture, a shorn female was a bearer of great shame.

After surviving the humiliation of that first day, I could not help but contemplate long term strategies for coping with the negative attention earned by my startling appearance. I realised that I was more resilient than I thought and, rather than drown in...

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