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How full is your glass?

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You have either one or the other answer when someone asks you how full your glass is. It’s either half empty, or half full.

If you’re one of the lucky minority who think the glass is half full, well lucky you.

Then please turn the page and move on with your day because this article is clearly not aimed at you.

Or should you wish to find out how agonising life can get at times for the unlucky majority, please do read on as it is the glass half empty folk I am talking about.

Firstly, how does it feel to always have a glass half empty? Let me take you to a moment in this woman’s life, years and years ago, when she was only 11.

It was the summer holidays. Like most idle, languorous childhood summers, as children, all we did was spend the day at the beach, the afternoon riding our bicycles and the evening heading out to the corner shop to buy ice cream.

On occasion, there was a new fad or two that we all bought into – one such that summer was collecting stickers that came with a certain brand of chewing gum – or candy.

There was an end goal too; not sure what it was. Potentially to collect ten and get another pack of gums for free, or something along those lines.

Goes to show how things that once meant the world no longer matter viewed through the filter of decades!

One evening I looked through my stash and discovered four of my eight stickers were missing.

Being my 11-year-old only child self, the instant reaction was an incredible sulk to last for hours.

My mum was trying to sooth me saying I’d collect more soon.

My dad was lost for words at the diva behaviour of his little girl.

I didn’t care how soon I’d collect more, how many more stickers I would have.

All that mattered was the missing four. Where could they be? How could I have lost them? These were the questions I kept asking.

As the evening fell, and our next-door neighbour, Dad’s close friend came over for dinner with his wife and his son who was a couple of years older than me and incidentally in competition as to who can collect the most stickers, he had a genius idea.

“What’s the big deal?” he asked, turning to his son, “Ali, son, give Sinem four of your stickers.”

After some persuasion, with his grumpy little boy sulk, and begrudgingly, Ali handed over four stickers. All is well that ends well, right? Wrong.

See, what happened was, instead of being placated that the missing four stickers were now somehow back, the little me burst into tears moaning, “I could have had 12 stickers now, but I only have eight!” to everyone’s surprise.

Fast forward about nine years. The year is 1995. Teenage Sinem is at university.

She’s aced her university exams and made it into the university of her choice to study English Language and Literature.

Walk through the doors of the last lecture to be greeted by the mother of dragons who roars blasphemies, spits fire and terrorises the whole class.

Meet Professor Cevza Sevgen. Two poor souls who arrive at the room five minutes late are summarily dismissed with warnings to the rest of the class will not be tolerated.

Sixty minutes of Cevza’s reign of terror, I remember going back home and telling my mum I will be switching classes.

After all, Introduction to English Literature 101 had five different lecturers and plenty of slot across the weekly timetable to allow me to find one that wouldn’t clash with the rest of my classes.

“You cannot turn around and run at the first sign of trouble,” my mum said, “Grow a backbone and stay put. You are in her class for a reason.

For all you know she might be the best lecturer.”

Turned out she was. Also turned out that there was a reason I was in her class.

Six month down the line, I was proudly her ‘mini me’ – her star student and little mentee.

Four years down the line, she was the one writing my reference to apply for an MA in Shakespeare at University of London.

It took me another two decades to start working from glass half empty to glass half full. And to this day, I fail.

Although I know that when I find my ship on choppy waters my default setting will be to scream, “I am going to sink, this is the end” I remind myself of the sulky 11-year-old and the stroppy 17-year-old whose gut reaction was defeat and flight, whose glass was always half empty.

Then I find my backbone, push shoulders back and raise chin up and remind myself, however slim, we always always have something to be thankful for in that glass. Even if it is a little drop, or a little mustard seed.

It is all well and good to keep the faith and sail through like when it is a walk in the park on a sunny summer day.

It is what we do when life throws us curveballs and the seas get stormy that counts.

So, my glass half-empty folk, next time life throws you a curveball and you find your glass half empty, remind yourself it is the stormy seas that make the skilled sailor.


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