Dear College Student,

You are at the point where you have all the ingredients for the foundation of your personality, but the cement has yet to settle. It’s likely that as you are now, you are persona non grata in the world you wish to create for yourself. To enter that world, you can only do it as your true self, no facades, no false bravado, no personas. If I asked, who are you? Would you say businessman, CEO, philanthropist, doctor, mother, father, brother, sister? Well, you’d be wrong with any such response because those are just nouns that describe what you are, not who you are. Most people couldn’t answer that question because it requires being vulnerable, admitting to yourself that you’ve spent all these years on this earth and yet barely know yourself. The journey to correct this flaw is very painful because it requires illuminating deeply rooted insecurities. As a result, most people either pretend these insecurities don’t exist or that they will resolve themselves over time. Such thinking is akin to attending a marathon without ever running to prepare for it but expecting to do well.

In the movie Deadpool, he receives his powers by essentially being placed in a pressure cooker. Similar to some of the other characters imbued with powers in the movie, they too were placed in the pressure chamber after being given a catalyst. However, depending on the individual, a different power would manifest based on how their body chose to adapt to the external distresses. Some individuals came out of the chamber with super strength, others unable to feel pain, and the main character Deadpool-regeneration. Apropos to that movie, we are placed in a pressure cooker from the day we are born until about the time we complete high school. Some of us, despite a tough childhood, may still grow up to be confident and secure individuals. Others may grow up to be callous, aggressive, apathetic, or insecure. Many of us in one way or another came out of this pressure cooker broken. We let ourselves heal incorrectly by creating false narratives, new identities, and confident personas. I emphasize persona because it’s just a false perception you present to the world based on how you wish for the world to perceive you. But a persona isn’t real. It’s an act, a practiced presentation style.

In my case, the distress placed on me enabled me to become greatly empathetic but also greatly insecure. Growing up, I didn’t have what would be considered a loving household. My parents valued respect above all else because, in typical African culture, respect, fear, and love are all just synonyms. I was emotionally fragile, living in a constant state of anxiety and it led me to believe that in order to be happy I had to be in a relationship with a woman. My outward expression, however, portrayed someone who was calm, happy, and confident. This façade very effectively hid my true emotional state. But the reality was that the one person who I was really trying to deceive was the one person that I couldn’t, myself. I didn’t know how to love myself or if there was anything to love. Every time someone saw through me, I resorted to my modus operandi – creating a new persona. The world pulled the strings on my cheap pride and I danced like a little marionette. I thought being loved would fix my lack of self-value. But the truth is, you teach people how to treat you. You can’t expect others to love you more than you love yourself. Though different people may have different origin stories as to how they became emotionally deficient, the ingredients are nonetheless the same.

But don’t fret. We are all granted two potential births, once into this world, and the second when you find your place among it. The second birth is both simple and difficult to execute. It requires that you be honest with yourself. Look back at your actions and how you’ve felt about yourself.  Find out why. Your mind is an incredible accountant. It has kept track of everything that has happened to you. But your mind can also be a corrupt accountant. It keeps track of every line item but when the bottom line is not balanced, it creates false assets [narratives] to balance the book. Search inside yourself and find out what false narrative you’ve created, and when you started to abide by it. Once you figure that out, try to verify why it’s true. I’m certain you will not be able to find sufficient evidence supporting those detrimental thoughts about yourself. You simply never truly questioned your view of yourself. Just as the broken version of myself is unwelcome to this new reality I have created for myself, so too must you do the same. You have to rewire your brain to see yourself differently and that requires repetition and affirmation. When you understand who you are and what you are truly capable of, you will know true strength and joy. It is unattached to financial status, social status, or how you are perceived by others.

  • Mory Diamonde

*Proceeds from The Conversation Event benefit The Mobile Book Library for Homeless kids and families.

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