One of my personal life philosophies: “Don’t judge a book by its cover; judge a book by the praises on the inside of the cover.”

When choosing a good book to read, I always flip the cover to see if there was any praises for the book on the inside of the cover. It’s probably the same, or not with people; I mean people are likely to judge others on how they perceive them to be on the outside, especially those you don’t know. The difference between people and books, though, is that with people, one cannot always see the praises. It is not visible. People with a humble and down-to-earth demeanour may have achieved a lot in their lives, while people with a boastful gloat about them, may do so at the expense of others.

I think about someone whom I regard as a true rock and inspiration, someone who can make it look so easy amidst all difficulties. I admire her and I stand in awe of her. She is the woman who gave birth to me: my mother. She does not always tell us, her children, about the storms that she has to endure to provide for her family, but I try to look beyond her words, to read the story behind the cover.

I remember when I hit a low point in my life, the lowest I have ever been; I had to return home after I’ve ventured out for jobs and failed horribly. I was 24 years old with a degree and out of work. My mother accepted me into her home without judging me. I remember those first months of job-hunting and it was hard. It was like companies took my CV and decided that I wasn’t good enough; like all of them had an unspoken unison agreement not to hire me – I felt hopeless and depressed.

But there was a light in my life and she shone brighter the more that I watched her. I saw perseverance and hard work come to life in front of my eyes. It was my mother, the cleaner.

“Mom, you wake up early in the morning and I can hear you moving in the house. The bleak winter came and I knew there were many times that you went to work sick. I took to my silent prayers, pleading with God to give you strength for days and weeks and to bless me with breakthrough. I believe nothing can beat the feeling of disappointing you, Mom, absolutely nothing.

“I know there are people out there who might not always appreciate you or might take for granted what you do, but in your children’s eyes, in my eyes, you will always be the cornerstone that keeps us together. I will sing your praises, Mom, even when no one is listening and even when no one can see me. You are like a good book that I can’t put down; a book that teaches me so much understanding and wisdom, a book that took years to write but turned out to be a masterpiece. Throughout the failure, you believed in me and saw something in me that I thought died long ago.”

So maybe the best people aren’t always the rich or poor. Maybe the best people are those who are willing to give others a second chance, even when they have failed. I know that if my mother did not give me a second chance, I would never have had the strength to get up and make something of my life. I would not be anywhere if it were not for her love.

I now know to treat everyone with respect, from the cleaner to the postman. They may have someone in their lives that they inspire, someone who is willing to sing their praises. No matter how humble the background or circumstances there is always something in someone that is worthy to be praised.