I was raised by two loving but strict Ugandan parents. One of the things one needs to realise about Ugandan parents is that they put the fear of God in you. When you decide not to mess up, it’s not because you have a true perception of wrong and right, but its because if you do something stupid, the fear of a torturous death far outweighed the momentary pleasure of whatever I was about to do, whether it be stealing sugar (which I never actually wanted to do, but I hear it’s what most kids do – can’t seem to understand why) or sneaking out of school for a period of time (which I actually did in grade 2, and received the hiding of my life, and the next life, and the 9 after that).
That may have been a contributing factor to why I was an “innocent” child growing up. I rarely engaged in unnecessary activities that were bound to get me into trouble. Outwardly, I was never seen as a troublemaker, or a future criminal (as some kids can be identified today), except for the little phase I had in primary school when swearing to sound cool seemed like the in thing to do.
As every kid realises, especially in high school, the nice kid isn’t the cool popular kid. So I tried (and miserably failed) to see how close I could come to the line so that I could appear cool (sorry for the outdated word, don’t really know what the latest jargon is), without crossing my “moral boundary”. I thought if all the cool kids knew how “inexperienced in life” I was, they would judge me and I wouldn’t be cool enough to get invited to the cool parties (of which my parents would have said no anyway [immaturity has flawed and illogical thought processes]).
In Grade 10, I decided to penetrate the church crowd. To most people, this would be the perfect environment for the nice innocent kid that I was. But as many people who know me know, I had (and still have) many unconventional views about life, and views that were different to the cultural views at the time. But I decided to contain myself, and keep these views to myself, and constrain myself, because I thought these people might judge me. I thought they might take me out of the city gates and stone me for being who I am (use your imagination here…).
Now this created a huge problem. I was trying to fit into two crowds of people, who I thought would accept me because I could be more like them. Here I was being a second rate of someone else rather than being myself just so that I could be more socially acceptable to both crowds. A point came when I got sick of it all, and just decided to be.
Out of this whole experience, the biggest lesson I learned was this: chicks dig nice guys (eventually).
But on the real, wherever you go, whatever you do, people will judge you (just like you judge them). Judging can be good, and judging can be bad. For example, if you’re genuinely doing something wrong (like stealing from your mother, or wearing bright coloured skinny jeans), and someone says “oh my gosh, that’s just sooooo wrong”, then it would be beneficial to you if you stopped. On the other hand, if you’re not doing wrong, and someone judges you and says “dude, you laugh like a hyena… you must be a pig kidnapper” then forget about what they say and move on with life (but seriously, if you laugh funny, try and work on it…).
Truthfully, I’m not perfect, and I still occasionally compromise who I am to try and please other people, but it is something I’m changing. I learnt that being myself is normally the easier thing to do. If I have a flaw that needs to be changed, I change it, not fake it. I’m a quality guy (modesty isn’t ignorance) therefore it would be a disservice to the world if I was trying to be someone else and less of myself.
I’ll end with this famous quote by Marianne Williamson. Some people think its by Nelson Mandela because he once said it. Kinda sucks when a guy like Nelson Mandela says something you said, no-one will ever believe that you really came up with it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Are you an occasional chameleon?