I have just sat down with a guy who is being very hard on himself. He keeps telling himself that he cannot do things, and when I remind him of his accomplishments, he tells me that everyone can do that, he shrugs it off.

He is 18 and when I see him he reminds me of the song I am 18 by Alice Cooper.

“I’m Eighteen”

Lines form on my face and hands
Lines form from the ups and downs
I’m in the middle without any plans
I’m a boy and I’m a man

I’m eighteen and I don’t know what I want
Eighteen I just don’t know what I want
Eighteen I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I’ll go runnin’ in outer space oh yeah

I got a baby’s brain and an old man’s heart took eighteen years to get this far
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt

‘Cause I’m eighteen I get confused every day eighteen I just don’t know what to say
Eighteen I gotta get away

Whoa lines form on my face and my hands
Lines form on the left and right
I’m in the middle the middle of life
I’m a boy and I’m a man

He looks depressed and I think he is. He keeps defending himself against my compliments, until I look him straight in his eyes, raise my voice, and speak with conviction that he has what it takes to finish his school, to graduate and to move on with his life, if he would just apply himself. I tell him that am 34 years old, that I have seen a thing or two in my life, and that I can see he is gifted. That it would hurt me to see his potential go to waste.
Then I get up to leave and he says it is also because he does not have a girlfriend.
I tell him I had the same problem at this age, and that it was killing me back then.
So I tell him a couple of the things you can read in this post.
There is not much time, so I tell him the most basic thing and that is that women are attracted to men who have a goal they believe in, have confidence and who single a woman out and give her the feeling she is the one.
He gives me a firm handshake and walks out.
Those are the few moments I allow myself to think that maybe I am making a bit of a positive difference in the world. I am Acutely Allergic to Arrogance [AAA], but we should not crucify ourselves every day either.
I am grateful for the men who took their time, years ago, to see something in me and to tell me.
I think one reason why men are in such a deep crisis now, is because boys do not spend enough time with men who will point out their qualities in them, who will see the spark and kindle the fire. That is worthy of a separate post.
That is also why I like the movie Finding Forrester. It has the typical Hollywoodian story arch, but it is good, it makes you root for the characters, will hurt you as any good story will and it is inspiring.
If you see talent in someone, tell it, say it with determination.
And add that it will take a heck of a lot of work to do something with that talent.
But that is the only road that leads to happiness in a human life, no pain, no gain, and sweat to reach the next level of your potential.
There is always a next level.