You know Shikisha, I’ve always admired how strong and independent you are. You always did things for yourself, no one had to do it for you.
-Uncle Fred

I was so confused when he said this to me. This man, whom I have looked up to for almost all of my life was saying strange things to me. It wasn’t strange that I was getting a compliment, it was strange that he called me strong and independent. I had never before identified with those words. Never.

As a matter of fact, up to that point in my life, I would think of myself as the total opposite. At the very least, I associated myself with other words, emotional, dependent, weak, soft, co-dependent. I saw myself as someone who gets knocked around easily, needs a strong support system (aka ALL my family), gets hurt or emotional for no reason. Then, Uncle Fred spoke to me.

I doubt he knew that our casual conversation would have hit me so deep. His words, casual yet perfectly timed, felt like fire cauterising an emotional wound I didn’t know I had. Like that moment when Mufasa spoke to Simba in the clouds. Like lightening, something happened in an instant. He wasn’t the first to imply that I had inner strength, but it was this moment that concretised it.

I started to see myself differently. I started to see my future with more confidence and less fear. The chances I have taken since then have changed. Even my relationships have changed. Why? Because somehow his words helped me to start seeing myself differently. He gave me a new lens to look at myself with, and I used it.

We all have the chance to give someone a new lens to view themselves through. We all have a chance to tell someone something we appreciate or admire about them. We all can sow good seeds in one another.

Uncle Fred showed me something I had never acknowledged about myself. I hope, that my words help others see the good in themselves too. May you use your own words to do the same for others.

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