Jai Gill

coffee date #4 with jai gill

owner of Lawn & Order Landscaping, undergraduate student, my Quick-Check coffee buddy, co-viber of Punjabi songs- fellow fan of Lamberghini

key note: Jai Gill is one of those people who you’ll ask for a piece of gum, and he’ll calmly hand you an empty wrapper folded up nicely – you’ll fall for it every time.

“The person you become in the next 5 years is who we’re going to be in the next 50 years.” – Jai Gill, 2021

me: hazelnut and colombian coffee w/ hazelnut milk and 2 sugars | jai: colombian coffee w/ french vanilla cream
location: quick check/jai gill’s car, new jersey

It all started in 3rd grade……..

Jai Gill was the new kid in elementary school. We were puny children with nutshells for our brains and were largely protected from the “real world.”

3rd grade Jai Gill somehow gave off arrogant vibes, so 3rd grade Esha Kode never interacted with him.

I honestly only remember ever interacting with Jai in eighth grade in our algebra class and even then, it was minimal conversation (strictly related to class). Oh! And I also met with Jai at Chuck-e-Cheese when Arya was invited to his little sister’s birthday party. We greeted each other with a “hey” and then stuffed our faces with pizza (or at least I did).

Fast forward a couple years later and Jai and I were the only kids from our town who went to Allied. High school was the start of our friendship. It was bound to happen. After all, we were both thrown into a completely new school with new people. We knew no one, except for each other. The bus ride itself was enough to get us chatting (45 minutes to get to school and another hour to get back home).

Our friendship truly evolved when Jai finally got his license and no longer took the bus to get to school. Occasionally, he’d pick me up at 6:30am, and then we’d drive to Quick Check to pick up our routine coffees (same as above!). Jai would then drive us the 45 minutes to school, with his knees almost to his chest because the size of the car was not so kind to his 6 foot body. Almost every single time we went on a coffee run, Jai would manage to spill a speck onto his light-colored sweaters and would proceed to curse at the coffee, all the while I sat on the side laughing my ass off.

On rare occasions (such as the day of junior prom) Jai would whip out his dad’s elite SUV and we’d just be mesmerized at all the functions of the car (specifically, its sports mode 😉). During these 45 minutes to school, we’d bop to kickass Punjabi music, freak out if we saw a cop in our vicinity, jam to Bon Jovi, and above all, have some thought-provoking conversations (while drinking our coffee! coffee dates are truly life changing).

These conversations ranged anywhere from relationship issues, family life, parenting, or even talks about our culture. Eventually Jai would advise me about many situations that I needed help with. Starting my morning off with a cup of hazelnut coffee and a motivational one-liner from Jai Gill was a huge plus.

What I admire the most about Jai is his confidence. The man is 6’2, a proud Punjabi, and is so self-secure. I don’t think I ever caught him comparing himself to other people and degrading his self-worth because of that comparison. He always believed in himself, no matter what.

Along with being self-confident, Jai ensured to empower others (or at least he empowered me). For example, I had to travel to Mumbai for the Miss Teen India Worldwide pageant and I was obviously an absolute mess- filled with a tremendous amount of anxiety and insecurities. I really do think that Jai butt dialed me during one of my days in Mumbai. Nonetheless, during the FaceTime call, he kept repeating, “Esha, you got this! You can do this! Just be yourself and the rest will fall into place.” It was a simple gesture, but an empowering one. Even during the early stages of Happy2Thrive, when it was just a simple hashtag (#happy2thrive) and people were posting pictures on their IG stories, Jai took the time to message me. He told me that this hashtag is creating change and he reminded me to be proud of myself. It’s always the simple conversations and gestures that leave the most lasting impact.

The other thing that I learned from Jai was the importance of trying new things! Jai never played for a football team, but senior year of high school, he decided to play for our home high school’s football team. Football is a hard sport, so for Jai to have signed up nonchalantly and work his butt off everyday for his games and practices is praiseworthy. Though he wasn’t in the top position on the team (since he was a rookie), he was still proud to have made it through the grueling season and feel the thrill of playing a sport that he never was interested in up until that year. This taught me that it’s absolutely never too late to try new things, and to keep trying new things. Nothing and no one can stop you from experimenting your way through life and discovering a potential passion of yours.


  • “Fake it till you make it”

Since I admire his self-confidence, when I asked Jai how he developed that trait, he replied:

“If I believe that I can do something, then you will also believe that I can do it. Now there’s 2 people rooting for me.” – Jai Gill, 2021

He’s a huge advocate for the common expression “Fake it till you make it” because that’s exactly what Jai does. When someone tells him that he can’t do something, he allows that to fuel him instead of making him curl up in some corner. His impulsive decision to sign up for the football team was driven by people around him remarking that he won’t make it through the season. Though he started the football team with fake confidence, by the end of the season his fake confidence transformed into self-assurance and an extreme sense of fulfillment. Clearly, he proved all those who didn’t believe in him wrong.

I also told Jai about my mania for always assuming others’ opinions and developing anxiety over their thoughts and feelings about me. I talked about a specific kid who was in our grade in high school who I always steered clear from because I assumed that he was innately judgmental and unkind. To this Jai said:

“Every time you cast a suspicion on someone else, they’re probably thinking the same about you.” – Jai Gill, 2021

INSANE! That’s so true and it’s unbelievable that I never perceived it like that. The kid that I kept staying away from may think the same about me, and hence, assume that I’m also judgmental and unkind. The truth is no one cares enough to spend their whole life thinking about every single action of yours. Usually we implement what we think others will think and let that prohibit us from moving forward. Jai further elaborated on coffee date #2’s points about facing ones fears and pleasing only those within our inner circle.

  • Work so hard to the point where people can see your diligence and passion.

Continuing on his journey through the football season, Jai shared something that his coach had told him during practice. His coach said, “Jai, you may never see the field, but your hard work is pushing the team to be their best. You’re inspiring the rest of your team to be better.”

When his coach said that, Jai understood the power of hard work. He had the ability to transform himself and that transformation lead him to impacting the rest of his teammates in an impeccable way.

Jai brought up this film and talked about how the protagonist, Rudy, resembled himself on his own football team.

What I learned from this is that what we do has the ability to embolden everyone around us. You don’t need to be a celebrity to start influencing and changing people’s lives. Simple, everyday actions can magnetize others to do the same thing.

  • Be more empathetic.

Jai described how he always idolized one of his friend’s life – his family, academics, relationships. He thought his friend had it all, the perfect life. However, when they had a discussion one day, his friend communicated other details about his life that Jai had not known about until then. Moreover, his friend idolized Jai’s life because he thought that Jai had that perfect life. That’s when Jai realized that no one has it all. It’s impossible to have it all.

After all, everything looks good from the outside. There’s really no way of knowing what’s going on with people internally unless they let us in. Even then, it’s still impossible to have them all figured out. This is why empathy plays such a huge role in our lives.

Jai had to acquire empathy over the years. He wasn’t always empathetic throughout middle school and high school, but now, as he’s evolving, Jai is starting to realize the relevance of empathy.

“There is definitely something that we all did, whether consciously or unconsciously, that someone thinks about everyday.” – Jai Gill, 2021

  • Don’t be afraid of supporting others even if you’re the only one!

There was supposedly a situation in one of Jai’s classes in high school where one student passed an incredibly rude comment about another student in front of the whole class.

After class, Jai pulled the student aside and let her know that what that other girl said was not okay. He was there for that student when she needed someone to let her know that she shouldn’t let other people’s words get into her head. This made my heart warm because every human being either has an ego or a “it doesn’t pertain to me” attitude that may prevent us from doing the same thing for someone else.

  • There is no way that we know exactly what we want at the age of 18.

Did you know that it’s completely okay to not know exactly what we want only when we’re 18? I knew that too, but it was still refreshing to hear about. I’ve dreamt of becoming a pediatric surgeon since I was 10 years old. Now, along with a passion for medicine, I’m starting to develop a passion for international studies. I shouldn’t be afraid to steer away from a belief of mine just because I think that I’ll ditch medicine and pursue something that I never thought I’d pursue. I learned that I need to allow myself to become more open to other opportunities and not hide behind the fear of change (at the moment, the goal is still to be a pediatric surgeon folks hehe).

  • Vulnerability allows for more intimate relationships.

I mentioned this before: being vulnerable and open with my friends and family is something that I struggle with. Through my conversation with Jai I realized that if we push ourselves to be more open about sharing our feelings and concerns, then others will automatically feel compelled to do the same. This will result in a beautiful exchange of valuable input that would not have existed if it weren’t for our ability to share.

“The day you realize that we’re all really the same is the day that we can truly connect with everybody.” – Jai Gill, 2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s