Dare to be Different
“The other day I dreamt that I was at the gates of Heaven. And St. Peter said, ‘Go back to Earth, there are no slums up here.'” These were the words of Mother Teresa in a conversation with Prince Michael of Greece in 1996. She was emphasizing the need to stay in a place where she was needed to make a difference.
Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, popularly known as Mother Teresa was an outstanding catholic nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor, sick and needy. She was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Yugoslavia – the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Originally christened Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa – who lost her father at the early age of 8 – was greatly influenced by the pious and devout lifestyle of her mother. Like her, Agnes also committed herself to religion and charitable activities even at a young age.
At 12 years old, while on an annual pilgrimage with her local church, Agnes Bojaxhiu felt a calling to the religious life. In 1928, she decided to become a missionary nun at 18-year-old and set off for Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. It was there she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Mother Teresa travelled to India a year later and was sent to Calcutta to teach at a school dedicated to girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families. She dedicated herself to her job and in 1944 became the school’s principal. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to God. She once wrote in prayer; “Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to You”.
In 1948, receiving a divine instruction to leave teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta in India, Mother Teresa went into the slums with a goal to aid the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for; helping the city’s poorest and sickest. Acting on the new call, Mother Teresa began an open-air school and established a home for the dying destitute in a dilapidated building donated by the city government. This later metamorphosed into the establishment of The Order of the Missionaries of Charity (a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor) and donations poured in from across the globe. This led to the exponential expansion of Mother Teresa’s charitable activities. Between the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics. By the time of her death in 1997, The Missionaries of Charity had increased to more than 4,000 — in addition to thousands of lay volunteers — while there were already 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world.
In recognition of her outstanding commitment to humanity, Mother Teresa was awarded the Jewel of India, the highest honour bestowed on Indian civilians, as well as the now-defunct Soviet Union’s Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work “in bringing help to suffering humanity.” There are millions of missionary nuns around the world, but Mother Teresa still stands out as a model for many generations.
In life, you can do all kinds of things to be “noticed”, but people who are exceptional are those who actually make the best of their opportunities and are rewarded for it. For example, the student who stands out is awarded a prize the same way a candidate who performs well in an interview is given the job. In fact, people who live value-adding lives are intentional about standing out for the right reasons. Like Mother Teresa, it might mean going against the tide, daring to be different or taking a risk but you must take a stand. Here are 3 simple ways you can stand out in today’s world.
- Be Kind to Everyone
It sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed how far this will take you. Mother Teresa’s kindness to humanity stood her out and has earned her a place in the history books. Our world is getting nastier by the day; the volume of trolls against different people in just one short scroll through various social media platforms is enough proof. But you can choose to be different. Make a habit of treating everyone as important and valuable – even those who can do nothing for you in return. Your show of kindness will not only make their lives better; it will also stand you out from the crowd.
- Stay True to Your Message
Staying dedicated to your core values and pursuing your cause diligently is what makes you an outstanding leader. All through her life, Mother Teresa stayed consistent and steadfast to what she believed. She loved humanity. In one of her campaigns for love and peace in the world, she said: “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.” As you journey through life, make sure everything you do – how you show up, how you act, what you say – is a reflection of who you are, so your character is consistent in every situation.
- Stay Positive
We are constantly inundated with negative information at every turn. This year, in particular, the outbreak of the coronavirus and its effects on economies and individual livelihood has made many people very negative – expecting the worst. However, everyone has an underlying desire for reasons to be hopeful. By staying positive regardless of the unpleasant realities around, you become a beacon of hope to others. When everyone is being negative, stay positive. This requires courage, but it will definitely make you stand out.
I’ll like to remind you that you have a unique DNA. You were not born to fit in; you were born to stand out. So, make up your mind to be different; defy the odds and challenge the status quo.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!