Originally published on 27th April, 2016.
5 minute read
“Despite the fear, it has always been about striving for the absolute joy of seeing my students’ eyes light up when I show them possibilities they were previously unexposed to/unaware of. That is what makes me come alive!”
I must confess I was slightly bemused when a young guy who goes by the name of Doniv Pradhan approached me to mentor him. As someone who believes in the power of giving back, it was amiably surprising to get approached for a change. I’ve always complained that we as people are too scared to reach out to the ones we admire and ask them for help. But as for Doniv, he outdid his fear.
But fear is a funny thing. It never really goes away; just changes forms. Once I got approached, the fear he’d released got into me. And it was not because he asked me to mentor him about self-development; I would have done that happily. It was rather because he wanted me to help him become a better writer. “Writing class? What makes you think I can teach you that?” was the honest voice that rung inside my head at that very moment.
As someone who started writing two years ago as a blogger, I’ve never really had any formal trainings on writing. All I’ve produced so far has been based on my own experiences and my drive to share what I know. Maybe that is why a sudden sense of fear got into me: the fear of being termed incompetent in front of a young guy who was buzzing to learn from someone he deemed a good writer. I must say, I was a bit hesitant to say yes right away but like always, I resorted to my mantra of tackling fear by getting into the basics and asking why. Why had Doniv approached me? The answer was simple; to learn from someone who had relatively more experience in writing. Did I have that? Yes, of course! I’ve been writing for over two years now. Was he looking for an expert? Probably yes. But was I an expert? A definite no! Having said that, deep down, I did know that I was a writer with abundance of passion for giving back and sharing what I know. So I asked myself: what is the worst thing that could happen to me if I started teaching writing? Doniv would probably run away and never come back because what he expected and what he observed were poles apart. But what about the best-case scenario? Well, we’d both be better writers by the end of the session and Doniv would go on to write a book and credit me for it! The average case? He’d become better off than he was and I’d have some experience facilitating writing classes. Regardless of the outcome, the underlying idea was my purest intention to channelize his energy into something that makes him better.
And so, like always, starting with why helped me kick fear out of the equation. Every Thursday, I do a writing class for a group of 5. As I reflect on the classes so far, I think I’ve become a better writer myself in the course of imparting what I’ve learnt. That way, I’m not just a teacher but foremost a learner.
I’ve always believed in sharing whatever little I know in the form of writing (the fundamental reason why I created this blog) and speaking/teaching (why I take classes). Despite the fear I mentioned earlier, it has always been about striving for the absolute joy of seeing my students’ eyes light up when I show them possibilities they were previously unexposed to/unaware of. That is what makes me come alive! Just today, the same happened in my mentorship class. Sudina(my mentee) was jumping with joy when she applied the communication strategies discussed in class and got a reply from someone she had long admired from the dance scene in Nepal.
Likewise, the joy I experienced when my 9th grade student Lakhsmi wrote her first article, the time when my trainee Bipana started reading Tuesdays with Morrie on account of a suggestion made to her and that moment when my mentee Dipesh started his blog when I had encouraged him to just go out and express himself. These little priceless moments!
Not just teach but the way my 9th grade student makes me look at life, the curiosity of my mentees and the energy and open-minded nature my students/mentees/trainees exhibit have helped me learn so much about this wonderful world and myself in the course of giving. And the fact that they lean on you with all their trust makes you work harder to help them with their dreams.
We’re both teachers; they teach me and I teach them.
But then again, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. The way my students write off some of their older professors makes me fearful about the future. What will I be like when I’m 42? Will I still be able to connect with the students like I’m able to do when 24? Will I even be heard or tried to be understood? Or will I simply be overshadowed by my younger counterparts? Will the generation gap kick in and leave me all vulnerable? Truth be told, the fear of losing connection with my students with each passing year humbles me.
And then there’s the society. “If everything else fails, become a teacher.” is the sad mentality we widely share in our part of the world. Not everyone gets what being an educator means to you but that’s okay.
“Here comes the ‘sir’.”
“The teacher is here.”
These are some ridiculing remarks I get when I occasionally go out on Fridays. I understand that not everyone will get the passion I’m talking about and it’s completely okay. They will one day; not necessarily by becoming educators but when they get to that moment where they know what it feels like to impact someone’s life or find their element and thrive on it.
I wish for not just them but for you too to find yours soon. But as for me, I have found it. And I want to continue doing what I love the most: share whatever little I know!