M.y Grandfather was a prolific collector of sayings and inspirational quotes. “Failing to plan is failing to plan,” he used to say, that was ingrained in the brains of all my family members. But it’s one poem (of many) that he often recited about self-belief that stuck with me.
If you think you have been hit, you will be hit
If you think you don’t have the courage, you don’t
If you want to win but you think you can’t win
It’s almost easy.
If you think you will lose, you will lose
what we found in this world
Success begins with the will of friends
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you’re above yourself, you are
You have to think high to stand up
you should check yourself in advance
you can win that prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go well
To a stronger, faster man
But the man who wins sooner or later
Someone who thinks they can.
It can be interpreted in many ways, but not all are great. For example, you have to “fake it until you succeed” or that self-belief is all you need to succeed. My grandfather would not have supported either of these ideas.
He was more concerned with preparing us so that we would not defeat ourselves in whatever situation we faced. , doesn’t mean anything if you’re already lost in your head.
My grandfather grew up in a small town called Balapitiya, on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka. His father was a Khaji (Muslim judge) who ran a shop and owned his one of the few cars. My grandfather started studying English and always talked about the big library at school.
But by the time he left school, his father was broke: with little more than his parents’ blessings, he had to find his own way. I was able to book a ship route to England to do so.
I have always been inspired by what my grandfather was able to achieve when he returned home. He became one of the first Sri Lankan directors in one of Sri Lanka’s largest British companies, he built one of the first beach hotels, Deshamanyaone of the highest civic honors.
I grew up with more privileges, mostly because of my grandfather. But when I had a bad seizure in my final year of college, poetry became essential. Then I discovered I had a brain tumor and a combination of surgery and medication had ruined my memory.
That final year in college spanned several more years. Most of my friends graduated and moved. During that time, my memory was so bad that I forgot where I was going and what I was doing, and had to pick him up from random stations several times.
I started keeping a diary so as not to forget. I wrote down everything I read, did and thought. Each book began by transcribing the cover poem. I read so many journals that I often couldn’t talk about what I did that day, but I learned to recite poetry.
It became a refuge when I got depressed over how much time I lost and how much more I couldn’t do. That last line became the mantra: Sooner or later, whoever thinks they can win wins.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/feb/10/my-grandfather-was-quick-with-advice-but-its-a-poem-about-self-belief-that-stayed-with-me My grandfather was quick to give me some advice, but what stuck with me was a poem about self-confidence | Family