[mks_dropcap style=”rounded” size=”42″ bg_color=”#289bcc” txt_color=”#ffffff”]I[/mks_dropcap]magine you are sitting on a beach in the warm sun. It is sunset, the lake is beautiful and the sand is a cushion. Someone walks in front of you, momentarily interrupting the view of brilliant golds and reds. As he leaves, you realize he left behind some garbage. What do you do? Will you pick it up to protect the environment? Or do you leave it there for someone else to clean up because this warm sand is way too nice to leave after such a cold winter? Eventually, someone does come along, making eye contact with you as they take out the trash that you ignored. You blush, embarrassed that you made a bad impression. Every once in a while, there are moments in our life when we are flooded by embarrassment. Either slips of the tongue or whole catastrophic incidents make us red in the face and wish that the Earth would open up and swallow us. What have you done in those situations? Did you feign poise with an eloquent apology and hope that life would go on? Did you stammer that apology and then hide in the bathroom for the rest of the night? Did you ever ask yourself: “What is wrong with me?!” Those are the moments when we wish we were someone else; someone who we could be proud to be. Some of us are already at that stage. We can look the world in the face and say, “This is who I am. I will not change for you.” We have the self-confidence and esteem to go forward with our voices, ideas, and heads held high. We are proud to be us. But as students come close to the end of the school year and wait for those yearbooks, what do they remember? Do they pray that embarrassing moments will not be printed for everyone to see? Are you remembering the time when you yelled at your best friend right in the middle of a crowded cafeteria? You probably wish to never have certain scenarios play out again. This is why we say hello to summer vacation. A period of two months when you do not have to see the same people every day, summer is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. You can sit along the sandy shores of your favorite beach and meditate. Ask yourself: is there any part of me that I would change? However, a word to the wise: change the parts that will make you a better person, friend, and family member. Build your character. You have probably seen this poster around: “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” During your summer vacation, take the time to discover who you want to be. Not your profession, but rather who you want to be. [mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”19″ bg_color=”#289bcc” txt_color=”#ffffff”]We can look the world in the face and say, “This is who I am. I will not change for you.” We have the self-confidence and esteem to go forward with our voices, ideas, and heads held high. We are proud to be us.[/mks_pullquote] Become a person known for their honesty and patience. Never keep secrets from your family and always tell the truth no matter how much it hurts. If people recognize you for an honest person, they may come to you for help with their problems. Hear your friends out; let them finish their sentences. If your sister needs a hand with artwork, lend a hand and do not look at the clock. The more you are there for others, the more they will want to be there for you. Become a person known for community involvement. Helping out at organizations founded for charity, poverty, youth, or education shows that you are dedicated to making your society a safer and happier place. Lend a hand to your neighbours when they are mowing the lawn. Pick up that garbage before someone else does! You will undoubtedly be noticed and appreciated for your work while meeting many new and interesting people. Prophet Yunus’s (Jonah) (PBUH) example comes to mind. He was a prophet whose people rejected him. He left them in frustration and boarded a ship. But when a storm came and someone had to be thrown overboard to lighten the load, the people, who were not God-fearing, still did not want to throw him off despite his name coming up whenever they drew lots. Their impression of him was that of a noble and principled man and it did not feel right to throw him overboard. Would they save you because you seem so virtuous and honourable to them? Find a role model in your life. Try to see what qualities you like in them and then take it one step at a time. Use this summer to instil that quality in you. Give it time, patience and, most of all, prayer. If it all works out, by the end of next year people will see you as a new and improved person that they would love to have at their side. See it reflected in their attitude with you and you will feel proud to be yourself.