3 important things that changed my life

When I was in college I was surrounded by beautiful ladies. Whenever I tell one of them that she is beautiful, she would reply with a smile: “Your eyes are beautiful”. I would not understand why they did not simply say a word as short as “Thank you”, but with time I realized that it means more than words: The perspectives in which we see things determine their impacts on our lives and in the community we live in.

In our everyday life, as human beings we are always faced to problems that lead us to rejection, discouragement, anxiety, attempts to suicide, depressions, etc., people with disabilities like myself, are more likely exposed to such situations. But being with or without disabilities, we barely escape from it unless we handle it in one way or another. Throughout my journey from pitiable little girl, many factors helped me become who I am today. In this article, I will point out three important catalysts that made it happen. It may change your life or help you to help others change theirs. As Nick Vujicic likes to say; when you can’t get a miracle, try to be one for others.

1- Feeling Important

I lost my right arm when I was 7 years old. At the same time my parents were brutally slaughtered, during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Tutsis. Myself image was at that particular juncture that of a desperate little girl with nothing but uncertain future. We watched my mother being killed and the killers thought that my brother and I died too. The horrible image of my mother’s corpse lying down on ground still haunts me. My wounded arm and head were heavily bleeding. It was not easy for my brother, who was then 13 years old, to handle the situation after such a traumatizing scenario. My brother took me by hand but he could have left me. I was dying any way. He never left me alone even though we were both exposed to death. We could be killed at anytime, anywhere, during the day or the night. I thought just within me that my life is over. Tomorrow looked grey. Seeing the way my brother was grappling with my survival for one hundred days of genocide, I realized that my life matters. I felt important despite the unspeakable tragedy I was going through. Ruined without any tomorrow, but seeing him striving for my survival during three hard months, I had that assurance that I am IMPORTANT. This confidence pushed me afterward in every aspect of my life.

Feeling important is key to personal self-development and success. Feeling useless, worthless, meaningless is the primary cause of depression which in turn may lead to suicide.

You are important regardless of the present circumstances you may be facing. You are unique in this world and nobody like you has and will ever exist. Take advantage of it, never lose hope, stay firm and fight negative thoughts. Your life matters for yourself and for the community you live in.

2- Positive self-image

Who do you see when looking at yourself in the mirror? Are you that ugly person without anything beautiful or do you appreciate that strength in the whole YOU?

The perspective in which we see ourselves determines who we become. When you treat yourself as ineffective, you rarely overcome life barriers ahead. Change the lens in which you see yourself today. Visualize yourself as able, powerful, influential, beautiful, and intelligent, to name but a few. You will absolutely do things that long seemed impossible to you.

My uncle Gratien raised me up as his own daughter and spoiled me with love. He would always remind me that I am intelligent and far better than many without disability. He instilled in me a sense of self confidence that physical disability shall never be a barrier to my success unless I let it be. This squarely shifted the way I see myself. From a girl without any hope for tomorrow to a woman full of potential that keeps a constant smile on her face. Thanks to acts of love, word of encouragement as simple as “you can, you made it, go ahead, don’t worry, nothing is impossible, etc.”, whatever is possible to others will never be impossible to me. Having a positive self-image helped me follow my studies. I obtained a master’s degree with a PhD project ahead and I am married to a loving and encouraging husband.

Today decide to look at yourself in a positive perspective and you will see how your life will drastically change for better.

3- Focusing on opportunities and overcoming barriers

By looking around, in different social groups, we notice how negative thoughts are more likely to spread than positive ones. We live in the society where the daily challenges blur the immense opportunities that surround us. This detracts us from grabbing opportunities that often lay right at our fingerprints.

My husband is a dedicated person to the cause of genocide survivors. Through him I learnt to be compassionate and understand plight of those who are less fortunate than me. Different survivors’ stories taught me how I am lucky at a certain point, and learnt to be thankful of what I have instead of focusing on obstacles. This attitude always takes me to the next level.

When you see around you, on the street, people’s stories, on TV, and many other platforms you will always find out how lucky you are. Think about millions of people out there who cannot afford just one meal per day and be thankful of your refrigerator full of food. Look at different people in wheelchair and see how you are lucky to have your two legs. Look at those children who never went to school and be grateful for your education. Once you realize how many people who would like to be like you, you will no longer take for granted the opportunities you have on your plate.

Whatever the circumstances, rise above barriers!!