It’s super easy to get sad and discouraged when people begin to say negative things about you—to you. And trust me I know this all too well. Been there, felt that! And It’s so easy to replay those words in your head over and over again.
“Oh, but why did she say that I was unserious?”
“Am I really this terrible?”
“Oh my God I feel like a total failure now and maybe everything I’ve worked for up till now is just a sham!”
Well, that was actually my story. In my final year at the university I was trying to prioritize everything and use my time wisely. From writing my undergraduate thesis to managing a media platform I was growing, volunteering for other organizations, traveling to speak around the world and yet trying to get good grades in school. I was all shades of busy and boy! There was so much pressure to get things right.
Once, a lecturer had asked me to get a literary text from her that could potentially aid in my thesis. I waited a bit for her in school and noting she was busy, I left school with the intention of checking back on her the next day. Surprisingly, she called me that evening and on learning that I wasn’t in school, she became so upset and accused me of many things. I was shocked.
She told me I was a very unserious person and she was disappointed in me. She asked if I even had any grades in the last course she’d taken my class on the previous semester. And she said she didn’t know what it was I was doing, chasing after entrepreneurship and social media. I felt so hurt by her words. They stung me so much and I was too shocked. She sounded like she hated me not only for not picking up the text from her, but for doing so much awesome stuff? I don’t know. Maybe.
I mean, I’m always the happy-go-to-person, encouraging my friends to not give up or get discouraged, to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ But in that moment, after she hung up, I felt miserable and I felt perhaps, everything I had worked for in the past was useless and pointless.
But on hearing the story, someone in my family said to me,
“But Mira, if you’re truly an unserious person, then why would people call and invite you to places around the world to share your experiences with others?”
It was a hard knock but then it dawned on me that those discouraging words were not true. And now here’s the catch. If you ever get discouraged by what people say about you, just remember that people’s thoughts about you don’t always reflect your true reality. Their thoughts are only a reflection of themselves and so they should not bother you.
But how can I possibly apply this to my life and get over people’s discouraging words?
First, what I did was to stay away from her and secondly, take stock of my life. If what she said was true then perhaps I could learn lessons from it and grow, and if it wasn’t then I move on. What did I find out? Mrs. Lecturer wasn’t right. I had good grades in her class, I lived a very disciplined and deliberate life, and my involvement in social entrepreneurship and the media world were because I wanted to actively help in developing my community and I had been recognized for that. So the negative things she said to me were only a reflection of her heart towards me, and not of my reality.
So if you ever get discouraged by people, don’t give them authority to bring you down. Just remember that people’s thoughts about you may not always reflect your true reality and situation because not everyone can understand your mission and goals. So raise your head and keep working better.
Mirabelle Morah is the award winning founder and editor of BlankPaperz Media. She is one of We Are Family Foundation’s 2018 Global Teen Leaders and an Obama Young African Leader with YALI West Africa.
Currently serving as a country representative for a Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) Common Futures Conversations Project, she has her focus on youth development & media influencing in Africa, while also working in the online and digital communications field.