Who do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? He answered, “I see a bad guy, a confused fellow who’s probably tired of life”.
That was the answer I got from Kamsi, a 2nd year engineering student who was drowning away his sorrows with a bottle of vodka on the valediction night. From afar, I watched him gulp down more than half the content of the bottle. I just stared at him from upstairs wondering what pains he must be trying so hard to drown, wondering if everything was okay with him. Should I take the risk and go talk to him? What if the vodka bottle finally lands on my head? (lol). I finally summoned the courage and walked up to have a chat with him; after he spoke to me, I felt his pains. He was supposed to graduate from the university that day with his course mates, but he couldn’t because he repeated a class twice – still didn’t pass and then he had to change to another department (computer science) where he was still having problems passing his tests. I can imagine how painful it is to watch people you started a race with get to the finish line while you haven’t even taken a step.
As I listened to him speak, I noticed all the negative comments he made about himself; how he thinks he is a disappointment to his parents, about not being good enough and not being intelligent. He had this sad look on his face that has now formed a shape making him look like he was always angry 24/7. From his looks and actions, he was a typical example of those classified as “the bad guys” in school then. After listening to him, I could see someone who had given up on himself and has seen himself not to amount to any good. He asked me why I came to interrupt his drink, and why I wasn’t taken back by his looks. My answer to him was quite different from what he expected, I told him I saw a great man who had a very bright future but doesn’t want to see it. He asked me how I knew and I said “everyone was born with a seed of greatness in them; you just have to realise its inside of you and harness it till it blossoms.” He was surprised, he said no one has ever told him those words and that he has never seen himself that way cos everything he tried to do has failed.
Kamsi saw himself as a failure because he couldn’t make it through his 1st year in school. Have you tagged yourself with a negative word because people have called you names you didn’t like but somehow they got stuck in your brain? They said you’re slow/dull/laid-back, bad guy/girl, failure, ugly, fat etc; I want you to know that all those things do not matter. What matters is how you see yourself. If you want people to see an intelligent, brave, hardworking, beautiful YOU, you’ve got to start seeing those things in yourself. What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you see the guy/girl you’ve always dreamed to be or the one you never want to be? When you start appreciating the good things about you and see yourself from a positive angle, people will see those good things in you cos that side of you will become magnified automatically reflecting the real YOU to people. As you keep up the positive approach to always say good things about yourself, they’ll gradually begin to fall into place. With time, those attitudes and attributes will become a part of you. Things you initially thought you couldn’t do before somehow become simplified because you have decided to look within and see possibilities instead of limitations.
That year, Kamsi passed his exams and moved on till he got to final year and graduated with honours. He continued to excel in everything he did and his parents who he thought were disappointed in him are now very proud of him. To support him, they helped him start his own company and now he is an employer of labour. It did not all happen in one day; it took determination and focus on his part to get him to that level. I took it as an assignment to send him an encouraging text everyday telling him things I saw in him, things like – you’re the best in your class, your future is bright, you’ll make an impact in your world etc. He started seeing himself that way and gradually became the man he is today. There may not be anyone to tell you these things; you just have to look in the mirror and see the giant inside of you. If you can see it, others will be able to see it through you.
I’ll ask you the same question I asked Kamsi… “Who do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror?”
True Story but a different name.