Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Self-imposed Limitations

Self-imposed Limitations
Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

It was a working day, professor Qurban was getting ready for college early. Last night, when he was looking at the Student Learning Outcomes / Specific Learning Objectives (SLOs), he thought about a topic related to beauty. “My students will like this topic since they are grown-ups. I remember when I was in my Intermediate, I liked such topics, too,” he whispered to himself. Qurban opened the Internet and searched for some audios about the topic “beauty”.

As Qurban reached his class, he looked lively and passionate as always. “How are you today, dear students?”

“Fit and fine, sir!” replied the students in unison.

“Okay, today we are going to have a listening class. So let me first distribute the handouts of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).” After distributing the papers, Qurban asked the students to listen to the audio first. When the track ended, he allowed the students to read the MCQs for two minutes. “Now I will play the track for the second time. After that, I will give you 15 minutes to answer the questions. Got it?”

“Yes, sir!” said the class.

After teaching the class, the professor went to the canteen to get some tea. One of the students, Junaid, followed him and met him on the way to the canteen. “Sir, in the track, we were told some tips to be beautiful. The speaker talked about how to get white skin and how to get a beautiful, strong physique. Sir, I have neither a white skin, nor a strong body. Will any girl ever like me?”

“Of course! I’m surprised how you asked this.”

“I asked you this because I’m always feeling inferior.”

“Oh, come on. You’re not inferior to anybody. Look, Junaid. Physical beauty is not everything. Some girls and boys believe that having white skin is a must. That’s why they spend lots of money on beauty parlors, to get attractive looks. However, the most powerful form of beauty is simplicity and humbleness.”

“As long as you have a good heart, good intentions, and a passion for doing anything, you will achieve anything you want. Come with me, let’s drink tea.”

They both talked about the importance of beauty and simplicity while sipping the tea. “Let me tell you about myself. When I was your age, I was surrounded by beautiful and rich girls in my classes. Well, none of them could win my heart. The girl who became the queen of my dreams was a simple, country girl. She had no formal education. She didn’t even know what a semester was. I married that girl and I have a happy family. It was her simplicity, her humbleness which inspired me. Above all else, physical beauty doesn’t last forever.”

“Sir, John Keats said: A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

“Well, he was a romantic poet. The romantic poets live in an imaginary world. Poets rarely accept reality; they just say whatever they want whether it is true or not.”

Qurban understood that Junaid had low self-esteem and that it takes time to get oneself out of it. “Look, when I was your age, I used to feel that way too. I considered myself mediocre. In fact, I was the most efficient student in my English class. I was a tall boy with a charming face. The reason I thought little of myself was that my classmates bullied me all the time because of my height. They used a lot of derogatory terms like “camel jockey” and “potato”.  It was because of all the bullying that I felt inadequate. However, with the passage of time, I developed self-respect and self-confidence. Because of those boys, I had confined myself to the classroom. I never played on the playground. I would sit in the classroom even during the breaks. See, if you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to respect and value you?”

“You’re right, sir.”

“We will talk about it next time. It is time for me to go and teach another class. Now then, let’s head back to the college.”

The next day, it was Sunday. The college was closed. After jogging early in the morning, Qurban sat on the grass in the lawn and logged into Facebook on his smartphone. Once online, Junaid messaged him. “Good morning, sir,” said Junaid.

“Good morning! You’re up early.”

“Yes. I couldn’t sleep well last night.”


“Sir, I want to get an A+ in English this year. Is it possible?”

“Great! Yes, of course.”

“How? For the last three years, I haven’t ever gotten an A in any subject. I’ve always felt that getting an A in Agha Khan Board is impossible for me. This examination board is so difficult, you know.”

“Junaid, in this world nothing is impossible. We just need to work harder and harder. We might fail two or three times, but that doesn’t mean we’ll always fail. Thomas Edison failed several times when he was working on the bulb, but he eventually invented it. Before Edison, the bulb was something impossible for many people.”

“Sir, I will study seriously from now on.”

“You must! This is how you will get an A+.” After Qurban’s comment, Junaid went offline. For the first time in his life, Junaid had decided to work on his weaknesses: his low confidence, low sociability, low goals, and low self-esteem. He felt lucky to have found someone who could understand him.

It was spring season, and Qurban went into the class on time as always. “Before I end the class, I have to make an announcement. As you know, the winter is over, so in March, the college will celebrate the annual Sports Week. You all should register in different sport competitions within three days,” the professor said to the students, then left.

In the evening, when Qurban came out of the teachers’ hostel, for jogging, he saw Junaid in a kit. “Hello, sir.”

“Oh, Junaid. Looking great!”

“Thanks, sir.”

“I guess you’re going to participate in the Sports Week.”

“That’s right. I have never participated in the past, but I would like to this time.”

“That’s wonderful!”

Junaid had become enthusiastic and joyful. He now understood that every chance, every event was important. His teacher played his role to make Junaid an enthusiastic, energetic student. Many of us impose limits on ourselves without any reason. We all must take some positive steps like Junaid so that we can live a memorable life.
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