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Behind the Veil of Doubt

July 13 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

One rainy Sunday morning, I found myself reading Khalil Gibran’s "The Madman". I realised something as I read the story - most of us carry on with our lives pretending to be someone we are not and often find ourselves at a crossroads.

Some of us do not fail to fully comprehend who we are or what we want. It is as if we wear masks each day to shield ourselves from others, and the only time we seem to take off our mask is when we are with family members or close friends.

One can only imagine the doubt this will put many people in. We rarely have any idea of knowing how many of the people around us will accept us once they see our true colours.

But, and this is a caveat, what if we managed to be ourselves all of the time. If people were vocal more instead of keeping it to themselves, which would require courage, it would be a truly different world that we live in now. It requires a state of preparedness to face the music and to take in life as it comes to us.

This was clear to me after I met a particular person a week ago. A friend called and asked me to talk to a friend of hers who could use some conversation. Skeptically, I agreed. My friend had already told her about me, thus I did not need to explain when we met. She introduced herself to me and told me some things I needed to know about her.

I assured her that our conversations were going to be kept confidential, and that if I was to discuss our conversation elsewhere, I would do it anonymously.

Then she began. Several things were obvious about her right away. She felt inadequate and did not think too much of herself. I asked her what she wanted to change about herself. Her list was full. I asked how her friends described her, and surprisingly, they did not seem to share the same negative view of herself. She tried to justify this by insisting that they were just being nice.

I asked if it was fine for me to talk to one of her friends. She agreed and gave me a friend’s number. It was unusual for the friend to be interrogated by a stranger in this manner, but she soon became loose and began to open up to me. She believed that her friend was one of the smartest and nicest people she knew; accomplished and successful as well.

“She must know. I don’t feel the need to tell her, but occasionally I let her know how amazing she is,” she told me after I asked her if she communicated properly with her friend.

When I hung up the phone, I was thinking of her and many others like her. Most of us at some point in our lives must have doubted ourselves and our abilities. Most cultures are also highly biased against showing off, for better or worse, while adulating modesty. We are encouraged to suppress our sense of accomplishment and worth.

Here is the irony though. People who doubt themselves are those that often should not, while those who are over-confident are the kind that should question their sense of accomplishment. They are assertive even when they have no clue about the things they are pontificating on, while those who have sufficient knowledge are often found unable to opine.

But it is the case that even people who have had some success and are objectively imbued with knowledge, can also be those who are unable to face the music. They are held back and their true potential and their identities clouded to the detriment of themselves and those around them.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 13,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1055]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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