Humility, How Complex You Are!

tree-roots (1)I am totally aware of my incapacity to accept compliments. I honestly find them kind of useless; as I genuinely prefer critics for to me, they are more constructive. Compliments are just an applause, while critics are one of those rhythmic claps your annoying teacher does when they want you to hurry up and move. Ironically, my reluctance to accept compliments often results in a compliment—always the same one: “Oh, you are so humble!”.  I can’t deny it, it flatters me to be seen as a humble person, and this is probably the only compliment I feel comfortable accepting. This until I found out humility is more than that, and if one considered this ‘something more’, I was not being humble all along.

One of the first things I have learned at WYA is that our whole life is a continuous struggle. The idea of struggle is recalled in several readings of our training, and each time we learn something different about it: Malik tells us it is an inner, inevitable process; Mandela rather says sometimes you actually have a choice; Frankl brings such struggle to the extremes and shows us how, once a human being –his life as well as his body—is completely nullified, yet there is one thing it can still fight for: his dignity.

As an International Relations graduate, aware of the enormous problems people deal with everywhere all around the world, I came at WYA thinking that the hardest goal human beings are to achieve is the unachievable goal of world peace. Yet again, I found out I was wrong. While I was studying, however, I had a second passion I underestimated. Going out? Okay, third passion: reading. Personally, the books I enjoy basically consist of hundreds of pages regarding people’s inner struggle. I personally find them important, but I thought this was just my thinking. Stupidly, I did not realize how many readers are in the world.

At WYA I have finally realized how my passion on the surface and the one underneath go actually in parallel, or better, they intertwine.

By reading about all these important authors who shared their outer as well as their inner struggles, I have learned that the two go together. I have learned about Gandhi varnashrama, humility, about the importance of following your own talent because this is good for you and for the others, now and in the future. Before this, I had studied human rights, which in a nutshell means that I might know what the first or the second article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are about. Nevertheless, I never actually asked myself what exactly is the content of each of those articles. My experience at WYA has helped me to provide content to that list of rights. If one day I will advocate for them, I will know what I am talking about. And this has enormous implications on my vision regarding what I have learned at school, at work and especially about myself.

Because now I know that, for instance, if I really want to deserve the compliment “humble”, I know it takes much more than snubbing the remaining compliments. It takes responsibility towards yourself, listening to what your inner being has to tell you.  And that requires lot of courage, work and, in my case, patience.

Rachele Petillo is a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East.