My dear Jackson,
I asked your brother Jack to deliver this letter because I’ll be away all week. We’ll talk when I’m back. You raised certain issues in your letter. I think it all boils down to self esteem – what you think of yourself. Give it a few years and you’ll realise those “cool” guys you spoke about are operating on a false definition.
Being cool is not the ability to sleep with countless girls. That’s lack of discipline and you’ll expose yourself to all sorts. You may end up a sex addict. Sex addiction is a progressive intimacy disorder.
Being cool is not the ability to consume gallons of alcohol. That’s dangerous. You’ll damage your liver and heart.
Being cool is not the buying of clothes you can’t afford, doing of drugs or skipping of lectures. Neither is it the terrorising or raping of girls, or speaking in phony accent after just a spell of summer in London.
Being cool is not godlessness either. In fact dissing God has to be one of the most uncool things to do. It’s good to study history – ancient and contemporary history. We use history as reference material. I did some studies and four guys from ancient Babylon struck me as cool. They are the quadrumvirate Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were smart and extremely confident. But the basis of their confidence was reverential fear of God, not booze or babes, or Babylonian accent. Get your definition right Jackson. False definitions create aberrant and misleading philosophies.
Now, nobody’s going to give you self-confidence. You have to acquire it, by yourself. And it’s just a paradigm frame. Self-confidence is based on how YOU CHOOSE to see yourself, how much you value what you have. Some believe in what they have, some don’t. Those who don’t keep measuring themselves by other people’s standards.
Self confidence does not use side mirrors. It uses the windscreen. You should value what you have Jackson. God always gives good gifts. You have to have faith in yourself, in your own abilities. Every man has a competitive (not comparative) advantage. You’ll be surprised at what faith in your own abilities will produce.
One of the killers of self-confidence is shame – being ashamed of one’s background. But it is what it is. It’s not the background that matters Jackson, it’s the front ground. What is your vision?
You can’t be ashamed of your parents. Yes, they’re not rich but they’ve given you their best riches. If your parents are godly, honest and hardworking, why should you be ashamed?! Isn’t that false values? Honour your parents. If a girl thinks you’re uncool because you have poor parents and you’re not ashamed of them then remain uncool.
So you don’t have a car on campus. So what?! The race is not to the swift. Develop achievement values. It’s a matter of time. It’s not what you have now that matters, it’s what’s in you. See those values you can’t properly appreciate now – discipline, hardwork, diligence, honesty, respect for elders… They’re going to prove invaluable in life. They are propellants of attainment. See those funny values guys perversely define as metrics of “cool”- vain boastings, fakeness, dishonesty, lack of respect for women, thuggery, insolence, disrespect of the elderly, jangling, spiritual profanity, self centeredness, willfulness, disobedience, lack of discipline, financial diarrhea, selfishness, lack of depth, uncare! They lead to self ruin. The results are all around you Jackson. Be careful about your definition of success.
We’ve been talking about self esteem, having faith in oneself, as well as faith in one’s giftings and abilities. We tend to imagine giftings as only singing talent, artistic ability, or sporting prowess, especially football. But there are so many other gifts and talents. BBC Food has shown that cooking is a major talent! Wole Soyinka has shown that writing is a major talent. As did the late Chinua Achebe and the late Kofi Awoonor. The Google guys have shown that coding, systematic thinking and bigness of imagination takes talent. What about Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay? Well, he’s shown that it takes talent to create a global auction site from trying to help your girlfriend sell Pez dispensers. Barrack Obama has shown how far community organising can take you. That takes talent! Mahatma Ghandi showed what dedication to a cause can accomplish. He liberated a nation, overthrew a kingdom. Warren Buffett has shown that thrift and the spotting of corporate value can create billions. It’s talent! Mother Theresa has shown what selflessness can accomplish. I could go on and on!
The point I’m trying to make is that we tend to have a narrow definition of talents and giftings. Because of this we can’t appreciate ourselves or what we have. And so we can’t be confident. Do you know that the ability to go to lectures consistently is a major gift in life? It’s a demonstration of discipline, focus, commonsense, self assurance, goal orientation, determination, perseverance, stick-to-it-tiveness, thirst for knowledge, humility and ability to prioritize. Bet you never saw it that way. Life teaches us big lessons subtly.
When you believe in the gift God endowed you with, and you’re diligent, the world will bow at your feet some day. Isn’t that the major lesson from the story of Joseph? Isn’t that the story of the people we cited above? Value whatever ability God has given you. That produces confidence. And stop measuring yourself by the standards of false values or by comparison to others. You don’t need the validation of others to be worthy. You’re already valuable. Stay true to yourself.
Accept your background. It’s your testimonial frame of reference. Always reverence God. Nothing can ever be cooler than that. True coolness is godliness.
I remain your big cool uncle, LA.
©Leke Alder 2013