A couple of years ago, I had this very short-lived dream of going to Cambridge University. Short-lived because after one conversation with an advisor, I was so discouraged from applying that I never did but that’s really another story for another day. Also, during that season of my life, I learnt a lot about motives and assessing why we desire and pray for certain things but we’ll come back to this point in another blogpost. Anyways, before the conversation with the advisor, I had this desire on my radar and had planned to visit the university at some point in the year. Imagine my joy when during a summer camp I was attending, we were told that the one trip during the program would be to the institution. That joy was also temporary as I found out that the trip was on a Sunday, the day I normally attend church. There were two coordinators of the program, a University student and a senior coordinator. I quickly told the student that I would not be attending the trip because I had to be at church, assuming it would not be a big deal. The student informed the coordinator who sent her right back to me to tell me that I “had to” go on the trip. I had a feeling that the senior coordinator’s dissent was more about the reason why I decided not to go on the trip than anything else, and I was right. I went to her office to discuss with her and I could tell from her facial expressions and body language that she was so confused as to why I would pick going to church over the trip. “Do you do this…go to church…every Sunday?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face. I should acknowledge that being at church every Sunday is not the be all and end all of one’s Christian walk; I know that it does not make one a good Christian or even a good person in general. Yet, it was and still is important to me and I really disliked the fact that she viewed my reason with disdain just because she did not understand it. Eventually, we were able to work something out and I was able to do both.
The week after the trip, she sent me an email inviting me to her office. She told me that people hardly ever stood up to her and that she was impressed by what I had done. We became friends after that. Throughout the rest of my time at the school, she was supportive of me and genuinely wanted to see me succeed. I never really thought anything of this story until a few days ago, when my friend came to me with a dilemma. I told her about my experience with the summer coordinator and she said “That’s such a testimony, thank God for boldness.” The word “boldness” stood out to me because I did not think I was being bold, I was just being myself. Reflecting on my friend’s words to me, I realized that deciding to be one’s self is an act of boldness.
My mum always says, “just be yourself,” and in the past, I would think “What does that even mean?” I would always wonder if I know myself enough to be myself. I now understand that inauthenticity does not come from a place of a lack of knowledge of one’s self, but from a place of fear, a fear of not being accepted. I was telling my friend who came to me with the dilemma that it’s easy to deny yourself and your convictions ‘just once’ and go with what everyone is saying or doing, but it’s kind of like a lie where if you deny yourself once to gain acceptance, you’ll need to continue to do so. I’ve always asked God to help me to be genuine but recently, I started praying for boldness, the quality of being confident and courageous. In today’s world which demands conformity of us, to be one’s self requires these qualities. Also, I’ve started seeing authenticity not just as a radical act of self-love but as a duty. We owe it to God and to ourselves to walk confidently in who God has called us to be.
What will a man gain by winning the world, at the cost of his true self?- Mark 8:36
Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one-Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Life is not about who you know, but rather about who knows you and what you stand for. Show the world with presence, actions & the way you lead your life, who you are.”-Akilnathan Logeswaran.
“Do not conform yourselves to the standard of this world but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.”-Romans 12:2