Some people need to stay on top of a situation all the time. They need to please everyone around them, even if it may mean forfeiting their own happiness.

Perhaps, there is something in their genes that dictates such terms or they simply try not to become too attached to their own feelings.

When I met a student, who has been appointed as a college President, I knew she was one of them. A quick talk with her confirmed it. She is so committed that she has reduced her academic load by half to dedicate her time to the welfare of her fellow students.

I was not convinced that she was doing it for her CV. There is something deep rooted than that and I told her so! Her eyes confirmed that I was right though I did not take any pleasure in it. In a way, she reminds me of myself when I was her age. I have nothing, but admiration for people with that sort of resilience. However, I must admit that I have a small reservation.

At the age of 22, I gently warned her not to burn her candle too early. I am convinced that her light brightens up, even the darkest corners of all the people she comes in contact with. However, learning from my own experience in the past, she needs to light up something that she has forgotten which still lies deep in the recession of her mind.

There are too many candles out there, but most people would not spare them because they do not bother to light them up to help others. I doubt she would change her ways. She is like a captain of a ship and it is sailing smoothly because she is always on the stern.

The problem is her incredible dedication to please her parents, fiancée, friends and everyone she comes across, and she would be the last one to abandon it when the vessel hits rough waters.

I remember my grandmother’s words. Out of frustration than anything else, she told me that there were two types of servants. The ones who serve their masters, but are free later in the evening and those who serve their uncompromising conscious, but find no time for themselves. Sometimes, it is good to say no or to act selfishly.

The two characteristics, if used sparingly, will free the clutter in the mind that normally bogs you down.  You may feel guilty at first but with practice, it is a better compromise than to please everyone, many who never appreciate your kind gestures, anyway!

But those who keep burning the candle to light up the difficult paths of so many people have their own rewards. Though their social life is limited, they can go home knowing that it was a good day’s work.

The only downside is that they relegated themselves as second best by putting their own interests at the back of a long queue. I would not go as far as saying that they are saints, but such dedication is commendable. I would not also say they are the envy of many, but the world - in all honesty - needs people who make daily sacrifices for others.

Part of my concerns for her is that some wicked people, to serve their own ends, would use her as a threshold for their unbalanced emotions.

The question is: who would be there when she really needs someone to light up her path?

n    The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.