A friend recently reposted a line -- "Haters = Having Anger Towards Everyone Reaching Success!" -- on Facebook that got me thinking.
Well, it's true. I see people angry at others, not because of their principles, or lack thereof, but because of what they've been able to achieve -- may it be love, slimmer waistlines, stronger biceps, better jobs, bigger cars, etc. If you were to read my last line carefully, you would realize that hating somebody because of how successful they are in your eyes is predicated upon you comparing yourself to others.
Being bitter and angry because a classmate, colleague or cousin outdid you in this or that way is like building hurdles for yourself en route to success.
Amongst my friends and cousins of my age group, I was the last to leave for foreign education. Those were really uncertain days for me. Bidding farewell to each one of them got me wondering if I would ever get the opportunity to study abroad. But instinctively, I wished all of them a safe journey and very good luck in all of their pursuits.
One day, my mother, my greatest confidant, who is able to read my mind like an open book, sat beside me and said, "Keep applying, keep praying, and if you're destined to go, there's nothing that can stop you."
I had already applied and was waiting to hear from the universities. The first rejection came from Cornell University, and I broke into tears, because that meant Columbia University, which is a much more difficult ivy League university to get into, was out of question.
I was in a dark emotional pit, where it was difficult to stay strong. My father hugged me and said: "this is not the end." As a result, I intensified my prayers. Months later, acceptance letters started pouring in, some from the top universities in London, but I still wished that one day I would wake up to see a letter from New York City.
One June evening in 1999, I received a personal email correspondence from Columbia University's Dean of Admissions, who wrote to congratulate me before I received the official letter the following week, for the sole purpose of allowing me to have a good weekend. My birthday was just around the corner, so it was wonderful.
In retrospect, the only thing that kept me sane during those months was keeping myself hate-free. I was able to do this despite the caustic remarks of a family member who said, in a serious tone, that it would be a miracle if I was admitted to even a shady university somewhere, and a classmate who said that for me to fulfill the TOEFL requirement, despite my decent English, would be an unfathomable achievement.
The things that I learned from my experiences were not to complain to other human beings when someone hurts you and never to wish bad for others.
Last December, I went through another troubling phase, because a job offer that took three months to materialize fell through after signing the contract. In the end, the headhunter had no lucid reason explaining why it didn't work out. Some comforted me by saying that it was predestined, others said it wasn't meant to be, still others said that there may be something much better in store for me.
While I had plenty of opportunities to be angry and hate and envy other friends who were well-placed or had book-writing contracts, I made a conscious decision to respond to my situation by intensifying my prayers. Prayer comforted me then, and continues to comfort me in times of trial. If you're not religious, you can meditate in order to stay positive. Whatever works for you is good.
If you're a Conan O'Brien fan, you may recall his own admonition to keep the faith, as he spoke these momentous words during his last appearance on NBC's The Tonight Show: "Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I am telling you, amazing things will happen!"
While the heights of success upon achieving "amazing things" can be exhilarating, it is often a lonely road to the top. One of my father's friends used to say to me, "You should be accustomed to being alone, because the man who reaches the top of the pyramid (a metaphor for attaining success) is always alone." He added: "And while you're working on reaching the top of the pyramid, you'll find envious people, some of whom may be your friends and family, who will try to push you down. Just don't bother with them and stay focused." The only caveat that I would like to add, from my experience, is that while you may be subjected to hate, you'll come across well-wishers, too.
I may sound old-school, but I solemnly believe that good things happen to those who wish well for others and celebrate the successes of others as they would want their own successes to be celebrated. The rest are just H.A.T.E.R.S.