Believing in yourself has incredible power. Before you start believing in yourself you have to know who you really are: your strengths and flaws. You recognize the uniqueness of your own beauty in your body, your mind and your character. You accept them, believe in them and act them. At the same time you have to remember that you can take your strengths to a higher level and improve some of your flaws. You are a Work in progress though you can never be perfect for perfection is for God only.
When you feel good about whom you are, you behave accordingly. You consider yourself worthy and valuable and being yourself other than pretending to be anyone else is the most natural thing for you to do. It is spontaneous and very liberating.
As children, it is appropriate to learn to fit in the world around us starting from the family, school, workplace and then the community. We fall into predictable roles which may even come to define us.
As we continue to grow, we become more honest and authentic wherever we are. We learn to assert our desires and wishes. Most times this comes at a cost to us; we may lose friends, jobs or other positions in society.
Studies by psychologists indicate that some of us are naturally confident but the majority is not. They also indicate that being confident can be learned and mastered like any other skill. I think some of us can remember a BBC Prime show about dating run by two relationships psychologists in 2000s. They would coach men and women to become suitable prospective partners who could take on committed intimate relationships or marriage.
It all boiled down to making them feel more confident in whom they were. They simply did it by teaching them to identify the positive things in themselves and focus on them, to be assertive and to present themselves with a positive image to the world.
I was fortunate to be brought up by a father who hardly knew anything about psychology but taught all his children how to be confident from a tender age. Later he had explained to us that confident people normally got what they wanted out of life.
He instilled it in us that we were worthy and valuable and therefore had to look whom we were. When talking to people he advised us look them straight in the eye and boldly say what we wanted to say. He taught us that it was better to admit that you did not know what was being talked about other than to pretend to know.He taught us to give a firm handshake and to hold our heads tall. He always affirmed us but at the same time gave us healthy criticism.
The fourteen years I spent in the Missionary school whose motto is ‘Never Give Up’, sharpened my power of believing in myself.Later when I joined the university as a medical student, my confidence was taken to a higher level. One of my greatest teachers: Professor R.B Kanyerezi, the current Director of Kampala Hospital, demonstrated to us and taught us the true meaning of confidence. I remember vividly what he advised us to do during the presentation of clinical cases to the examiners and to ourselves. He said, “Read the theory thoroughly and during the clinical presentations be so confident that you can convince the examiner that his right hand is his left hand.’’
We had laughed at this but later we clearly understood what he required of us as students and later as doctors: to be well prepared and then be so bold and shameless that we can make the examiner doubt what he thinks he knows. Wow! That is confidence at its best.
It is confidence of this nature that has helped me sail through my life as a whole. I did not know that I had acquired it until I came close to missing my son’s first graduation. It was June 2007 and I was working in Botswana. This was at the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the country was trying to get anyone who needed the Antiretroviral Treatment started on it as soon as possible. During this rat race, I had to be in Cape Town for the graduation. While booking for the flight, to my shock and dismay, I realized that my Visitors’ Visa to South Africa was about to expire. That would not have been a problem if it did not require a minimum of ten working days to process a new one. My three children were at the University of Cape Town and I knew the rules very well.
On presenting my application, I was reminded of the ten working days rule. I pleaded, beseeched and cajoled. I admitted my mistake of having been too busy to check my documents: I had assumed I had been given my usual one year Multiple Entries Visitors Visa when actually I had been given only for nine months. When I thought things through, it was clear that I could miss the graduation. As they say: Desperate situations require desperate action; I took one day off to follow things through.
For the umpteenth time I was reminded of the ten days regulation. I surprised myself and them by demanding to see the High Commissioner. They exchanged glances but advised me where to go to make an appointment to see him in the adjacent wing. I literary ran all the way there but unfortunately I found the High Commissioner out of the office. The lady in the office listened to my story, asked me to collect all my documents from the Visa Section for her to peruse through. I only needed one extra document from the faculty of engineering confirming that my son was among those to graduate. I assured her I would get it by 4:00PM.
Immediately, I crossed the road and sat in the Internet café, called my son and instructed him to run as a hare. Thankfully, he faxed the confirmation from the faculty by 2:30PM. Within ten minutes I was in the Visa Office with the officer and I could feel all the eyes on us. There and then, I was given a one year Visitors Visa. My heart was flooded with joy and I did not have the right words to thank that official. Such good people teach all of us to be good to one another.
I was able to attend that graduation simply because I had the confidence to stand up for what I felt was both important and valuable to me and to present my case boldly and shamelessly. The incredible power of believing in myself fired me to ask for what I felt I deserved: a parent supporting three students at that university. I shudder to think of what might have happened if I had just taken ‘no’ for an answer.
All credit goes to the great teachers who demonstrated and inspired me to believe in myself wherever I am. These are: my parents, teachers, lecturers and friends.
I am a Christian and take the Bible as the Book of Wisdom; while writing this post; two life-changing events came to my mind. When God was passing on the responsibility of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, from Moses to Joshua, he commanded him to be determined and confident and when King David was passing on his responsibility to rule Israel to his young son Solomon, he instructed him to be confident and determined.
May you be fired up to always believe in yourself by this quote of the late Golda Meir (1898-1978): the fourth Prime minister of Israel (1969-1974). She was a teacher, stateswoman and politician.
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.’’
Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. Please feel free to share it with your network of friends and to leave a comment about it. May this post inspire you always to believe in yourself and to stand up to ask boldly for what you believe you deserve.