Yesterday while I was tutoring, I was listening in on a conversation that one of my fellow tutors was having with the young man she was helping. This boy is going into grade 12 with the hopes of getting into a good American university. He came to our tutoring centre in order to get help with writing the SATs. This young man receives grades of at least 90% in all his AP math and science courses, and he came to us because his parents wanted him to get help with his English skills.
He is currently getting high 80s in English.
Yesterday he was working on interview skills. From what I could gather between helping my student was that he already has a volunteer position at a pharmacy, but is now applying for a volunteer position at a local hospital. This volunteer position is based around helping with the research in a genomics lab (something I did not do until I was in my fourth year of undergrad).
Needless to say, he is ridiculously smart.
As he was sitting there with his tutor and they were going through questions that the hospital may ask him during his interview they spoke a lot about why he wanted to volunteer there and what some of his strengths and weaknesses were.
The things he said nearly broke my heart.
The first thing I could tell was that he had a really hard time with coming up things that he is good at, and was overly judgemental when it came to things he had to improve on. When he was asked to state his strengths he started his sentence off with: “I know we are not supposed to be boastful…” I wanted to stand up and shake him! This kid is a genius, highly articulate, volunteers at a pharmacy, plays an instrument, was on the public speaking team, and won a NATIONAL math contest with his friends and he did not want to be “boastful”. Kid.. that ain’t boastful, it is just the truth!!
He went on the describe how he won the math contest and the word he used to describe his accomplishment was not “pride”, or “excited” it was “shock”. That shook me to my core. How could he not see just how brilliant he was?! Of course he was going to be AT LEAST in the top 10 in the country.
His tutor then went on to ask him why he wanted to be accepted into this volunteer position. He stated that it was because it would help him to further enhance his application into medical school, so that he could fulfill his dream of being a doctor. He continued on to explain why he wanted to become a doctor and the first thing he said was “I want to make others happy so that I can be happy, my parents tell me that in order to be happy in life you have to make others happy.”
I was enraged.
I wanted to stand up, go outside and punch his parents in the face. How could they teach their son this kind of behaviour?! He felt like he was being selfish when he was praising himself. His dream of being a doctor was because he wanted to make others happy, NOT because he wanted to be happy. Why would any parent tell that to their child?!
Then I realized .. this is not an isolated case.
There are many children who get that memo whether its explicitly from their parents, teachers, or society, or whether its implicitly from these sources. I was definitely not told explicitly, but I was most certainly implicitly informed. I never, ever want my children to feel that by putting their needs first they are being selfish.
In order to awake the world to its light, you must not be afraid to shine.
That took me a while to gather, because we are all taught at some point in our lives that we must suppress our light so that others do not feel bad. But … when you are unhappy how can you possibly help others to become happy? This concept was definitely something my parents were never informed of when they were children. I honestly believe that it is our generation that has to put this concept in motion and help our children to put themselves before anyone else. And how can we do this…?
By shining our lights, we will inspire others to shine theirs.
Be a light today. Show yourself some love and just see how you impact those around you. I promise.. it will be beautiful.