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Brown Boy of the Month Sailesh Kumar and the Art of Giving to Yourself and Others

3 min read

Sailesh Kumar is a 23-year-old San Francisco based software engineer at Facebook, working on Virtual and Augmented Reality. He serves as Chief of Development for MannMukti, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in South Asian communities, as well as on the board of Envisioning Greater Success, a scholarship foundation for Eastside Memorial High School in Austin, Texas. Outside of this, Sailesh makes music and runs his own channel on Instagram.

“It’s crazy to me to think that a mere 10 years ago, I didn’t want to be on this planet. I hated everything about myself, and I would have given anything to be someone else. However, ten years later I feel more fulfilled, happy, and proud than I ever have.

When I reflect on my life and all of its incredible highs, and the (albeit, several) lows, I bucket my philosophies and loves into three categories: positivity, expression, and purpose. I think they segment me as a person pretty well, as they encompass my personality, passions, and motivations.

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Practically anyone who knows me would agree that I'm an extremely happy and positive person. It's something I've been reflecting on a lot recently, because I'm actually not too sure if it’s a positive or negative trait. I've had friends refer to it as childish and naive, and have had friends refer to it as inspiring and contagious. Even when I look at it from the lens of purely how it affects myself, it still goes both ways. It makes me extremely forgiving and also makes it extremely difficult to let go of people. On the other hand I'm positive, supportive, and most importantly, significantly happier. It'll take me some time to decide if this is necessarily a good trait or a bad one, but I know for sure it's who I am, and it's very unapologetically deliberate. If you're reading this, know that I love you. And I probably always have and probably always will. Love is a verb. Give, work, do. Shirt cred – @mattissuperman PC – Kabir

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I don’t necessarily believe happiness is a choice, but I think there are lots of things you can do to exude positivity, and I genuinely believe it will better your own life, and the lives of the people you care about. These choices aren’t always easy, and more often than not people won’t understand the gravity of said decisions, but the payoff is more incredible than I could ever describe.

It is crazy how much better you can make someone else feel. Whether it be for their entire life or even just a few seconds, the power to improve another person’s wellbeing is breathtaking. These opportunities must be cherished, and who knows, it might come back full circle when you need it.

One of the choices I make to make myself happier is creating and posting music. It’s honestly selfish in nature – I really only post for myself. I also almost exclusively post raw and mini covers. They don’t come with the same pressure as fully produced pieces do. I distinctly remember a time in high school and college where I would spend months recording and producing covers, and when I finally felt confident enough to share, I would immediately hate my work and wish I had never created it. Oftentimes I would retroactively delete and privatize my music because I was ashamed of it.

Today, I don’t even use more than a handful of takes before posting a video. Sometimes I don’t even think the video sounds that great, but I’ll still post it! It makes me genuinely happier to be able to create and share music, and my old videos and mistakes are all areas to improve and to grow. I’ve been blessed to have accumulated a small following of people from all over the world who listen to my videos and support my musical goals. People I’ve never met, making me happier.

Music is one of my biggest passions and is how I express myself.

It is what I love.

And it is how I love.

This brings me to the final piece of my puzzle. Practically all of my close friends and family would call me passionate – because I’m the kind of person that likes to go all in on everything. However, recently I’ve realized it’s not a passion that drives me; it’s a purpose. 

Purpose to me is the feeling that I can enact change in areas that I care deeply about. For me, that can be educational inequity, body positivity, mental health, or a variety of other things. It’s the fire inside me that keeps me engaged and in love with my work.

It drove me to be a motivational speaker, to teach, and to work with nonprofits. More importantly, it drove me to care.

When you think about how much positive change you can enact in the world, in your friends, and even in yourself, it’s hard not to be excited. It’s pretty common advice to find and seek out your passions. It is definitely important, but only the first part of the journey. Passion by itself can lack the kick and the fire to maximize its potential. You need something to complete the puzzle, something to ground it in who you are.

You need to first find your passion, and then make it your purpose.

The rest will fall into place.”

– Sailesh Kumar