Monday, September 29, 2014

I teach; what is your superpower?

"Have you ever dreamed of being a teacher?"

That question was popped by my student when she and I were having a session last Saturday. We were playing a sort of board game; something like snakes and ladders, only each box was filled with question. It was a game slash speaking practice.

Yes, I am a teacher; to be specific, an English teacher. I teach English as a foreign language for classes in an English school and for some kids (and adults too) as their private teacher. I've been teaching English since I was a second year college student. Now, teaching is my main job, or let's just say, I'm doing many things (that includes yoga and blogging), but teaching is something I'm currently mostly doing (if you don't count sleeping in, of course)

Back to the question, have I ever dreamed of being a teacher? The answer is no. As a child, I remember dreaming of being a doctor (that's soooo mainstream, I know), a flight attendant (cause my mom was, and she still is), an interior design (it's somewhat sophisticated for a 10-year-old girl to dream of being one), a journalist, a children stories writer (still dreaming, though), an I-dont-know-what-the-exact-job-is-but-someone-who-works-at-embassy, etc etc... but never a teacher. Not that I didn't like being a teacher (or didn't like some of my teachers back then because they were oh-so annoying and gave me hard times... absolutely not), it was just not my dream. Why I then became a teacher is another story. Maybe I'll share about it later on my next post. The point is that, yes I'm a teacher now, and though I don't consider it to be my forever main job (still have many things in mind, things I'm more passionate about), I love this job. Even if someday I  decide to take another job as my main job, I won't let go of teaching completely (talking about being a private/part-time/freelance teacher or someday a teacher slash *cough* mother *cough*).

Many people may underestimate us teachers, mostly because of how much money we make per month. I mean, come on, that's such a conventional way of thinking. Being a teacher doesn't always mean being underpaid, although, sad but true, it happens in many cases and still an issue (dear government, here's your homework). Better yet, it's not always about the cha-ching. Mindset, people. I'll tell you why I love being a teacher and personally think teaching is one of the coolest job ever:

1. It makes me (feel) forever young. In my case, my students are mostly elementary and high school students. Interacting with kids makes me forget my real age (which I get reminded again once a year on my birthday). I unconsciously keep up with them. Their favorite things, movies, music, the trends.. how being a teacher has made me a teenager again. True story.

2. Working with kids doesn't feel like working. It's like playing while transferring the skill and knowledge we have to them, only I'm paid to do so.

3. I keep on learning. It's very true that teaching keeps our knowledge and skill refreshed. Not only does it make me won't lose our knowledge and skill, it also helps me improving it. The students learn, so do I. Not to mention, brand new knowledge and skills like the art of taking care of different types of kid, the art of talking to children, the art of being patient, etc. I'm so proud of myself. Ha.

4. Being a teacher means expecting the unexpected. Everyday is a new day, and teachers take that literally. As for me, I always have stories to share after I finish my classes. One day, a kid gets mad at me because he's not allowed to play his iPad during the class (parents, hello?). The other day, a group of kids makes a horror movie script about a walking vegetable for their write-a-script assignment. I cannot walk into classroom and expect things will be just the same as the day before. And of course, you have to make sure you'll survive the day.

5. Teaching different kinds of student makes me believe that everyone is special. I have a 4-year-old student who's really talented at music. Not to mention, he has a very different musical taste compared to any other kids at his age. I also have a student who's really active, like a pinball, and never looks tired. I also have a student who's very smart, yet so talkative and sometimes talk too much that it disturbs the other students. Thing is, we cannot treat each and everyone in the exact same way.

6. The love from the students is one of the best. Even just a little bit of "Miss, can I sit next to you?" can brighten up my day instantly. This includes the love-and-hate relationships, too.

7. The feeling when the students enjoy (or simply understand) the lesson that we teach them is beyond inexplicable. It's something that money can't buy. James Brown has the words for it, though: "I feel good".

etc etc. (teachers, you may want to add something to the list)

I personally think that teaching is challenging yet fun. Not an easy thing to do, clearly. Most of the times, it requires me to think out of the box, to handle things that look impossible, and to push myself to the limit. Clearly, teaching is a superpower *smirk*. It's true that I never dreamed of being a teacher before, but Peter Parker never dreamed of being a Spiderman, too. And yet he's good at it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To sum up my year.

It's been ages since my last post, and many things have changed since then. For better, for worse. Mostly for better. And I have two most important events coming up!

First, I am counting days to my graduation day... FINALLY! After years of laughter and tears (mostly tears, probably), I will finally attend my own graduation day. To be there, it was a long and windy road. By long, I mean literally long. Who needed 6 years to finally grab their degree? Me! ME! Yes, 6 years, and no, it doesn't mean I failed at some subjects or anything. I graduated with a good GPA (*cough* 3.5 *cough*) with good records, no failing at anything, except one thing... I failed finishing my undergraduate thesis. When I saw my thesis wouldn't go anywhere because of *this* and *that*, I finally decided to save my degree by drop the subject. To replace the credits and in order to graduate, I need to take more classes last semester and upload a journal paper. It was a tough decision to finally stop doing things I had started like years ago and to start cleaning the mess. If you start asking me "Why, Sekar, why didn't you for-God's-sake finish the damn thesis? WHY?", I have asked myself some questions too. Questions like, "why did you decide to work (as in actual job) while (trying to) finish(ing) your thesis?", "why did you decide to stay with the topic?", "why did you decide to write a thesis without any preparation and specific goal, when you could actually take a non-thesis program and graduate sooner? (when in the end, I took the program anyway. Only later)", and stuff and stuff. But hey, screw that, I HAVE finished my study. End of story.

Second, I am getting married. *I know, I KNOW, it's huge* Although we haven't decided the exact date, the holy matrimony will be held next year, in January or February. I am so excited. Do you remember the guy I previously told you on my one or two previous posts? Turns out, he is the one :) I don't know whether saying this will make me sound so cheese, but hey, let me BE cheesy. We have discussed this marriage thingy few months ago or so. We knew that we were having something serious. But the day he popped the question and I said "I do" only happened a couple of weeks ago. You know, I had been dreaming of a fairy tale-ish surprise proposal with flashmob, probably with fancy dinner (optional), with picture perfect moments happy tears, with a beautiful diamond ring, my man on his knee, and of course a perfect manicured nails. Well, it didn't happen that way. My proposal involved my man asking me a quick question (no knee involved) with crystal-clear answer, as clear as "well, duh" (I know, I didn't say "I do"), and a beautiful but over-sized ring (so we had to find a shop that could resize it the very next day. And found!). No flashmob nor fancy dinner. Just a very private moment between the two of us, at my house, after having a long tiring day. Yet still, it felt like fairy tale, only it WAS real (and thank God my nails were well-manicured). It is real. I am getting married to the man, the one I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with. We are now preparing everything. I admit, it stresses me out sometimes. I want the day to be "perfect". But then, I'll sit back and think, what can be any more perfect that marrying my best friend? Yes, we are still working on some details, anyway ;)

Third, life is a choice. I know I said two, and this is not even an event, but I just want to tell you this (perhaps more on the next post). There are just many things happened and came to me in these past few years that have made me grow stronger and (hopefully) wiser. They came with choices and decisions that may lead me to different results and roads. One thing that I have learned: no look back. Because those choices and decisions, they got away. More are coming, and I'd better focus on them. Better yet, I should focus on what I AM doing and IS happening right now.

Seize the day,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Now that's what I call 'being happy'!

"You're not happy. You only think you're happy because you feel happy." – Lily, How I Met Your Mother.

I was watching How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite American situation comedy series, when I found that very line. It was said by Lily, one of the main casts, to Barney, another main cast. In that episode, Barney was falling in love with a woman named Robin, but they chose not to define their relationship. Lily, who were friends with both Barney and Robin, thought that they had to talk about it, while both Barney and Robin didn't think that talking was necessary. Long story short, Lily didn't think that the uncoupled couple was happy, so she yelled out the line. Barney answered it with a question, "And that's not happy?" Frankly, that is also my question. If it isn't considered as happy then what is happy? How we define happy? How we define happiness?

Happiness is an abstract noun. Not only is it literally untouchable and invisible, but it's also undefined. Or in contrast, it's multi-defined. When it comes to what happiness means, we can ask hundreds of people to get hundreds of confused faces and mumbled words, or we can ask thousands of people to get thousands of different answers. But then, despite the fact that happiness is a sort of hard-to-be-defined word, it turns out that has described it the best: "hap•pi•ness [hap-ee-nis] –noun 1. the quality or state of being happy." Brava, online dictionary! Happiness is that simple.

We may get some confused faces and mumbled words when we ask what happiness is, and it's simply because happiness is a state of being happy. We are just being happy, what else to describe? Happiness occurs when we know that we are happy; we feel happy. Happiness is what makes us feel happy when we're supposed to be unhappy.

We may also get various answers when we ask what happiness is, and it's simply because happiness is a state of being happy that each person bears in their own mind. Thus, obviously, nobody can feel exactly what we feel but ourselves. That's why my happiness is different from yours. That's why I can't judge your happiness, and you can't also judge mine. If Lily thinks that being in a complicated relationship is sort of unhappiness, she may be right because that's what she feels. But then, she can't say that Barney is unhappy because she can't exactly feel Barney.

Combining the undefined and the multi-defined version of happiness, we can say that happiness is a matter of perspective; happiness is a state of mind. It may seem to come out of nowhere, but actually it can be both something that comes as a response to an event and something that we ourselves create. If my mother comes to me and hand me a gift, I will feel happy. That happiness just comes out to me and hangs on my mind. I will probably be disappointed when I find out that the gift isn't what I really want, but if I can see it from any different perspective, I can still be happy. That happiness is what I create for my own good from a thing called being positive. That’s why my happiness is probably not your happiness, and that's why it is also hard to define. It quite explains the inexplicable, doesn't it?

Happiness is a state of mind; it's my state of mind and your state of mind. It's too broad to explain yet too narrow. Some random Lily may come to us and say, "You're not happy. You only think you're happy because you feel happy." Instead of asking ourselves what happiness is, we’d better reply, "Now that's what I call 'being happy'!"

P.s. I wrote this years ago, back when I was in college for my journalism class' assignment. I just feel like posting it here now.

Build a bridge... and get over it.

First of all, I turned 25 last week. Yep, I'm 25 now and I know it's such a big number. I've been thinking lately of what I have been done in my life and what life has done to me. 25 years of ups and downs, and I'm still standing here; still and strong. If it's not something to be grateful for, then what is it?

Second of all, I finally came to this topic, something that many people have experienced (and thought about, and discussed about), something that many movies, many songs, many books tell about: "letting go and moving on". Letting go and moving on are two different things, clearly. I personally think that one is followed by the other. You have to build a bridge first so you can get over it. No reverse order. Simply put, you have to let go first in order to move on.

For me, letting go is more like realizing that some things are out of our control. Some things may not be the same anymore and there is nothing we can do about that. Some things may not be good for us and there's no point of holding on. Some things are NOT for us, and we'd better not try to act like they are. Some things are lessons learned, and what we can do about that is, of course, learning. And it leads to the move on thing. We realize that time won't stop ticking and we won't stop either. So we leave the past where it should be: behind us. And we keep moving on.

I know, I'm also annoyed by those who keeps telling us to let go and move on with our lives. It's not that easy. You can't build a bridge in one day, can you? But we have to make sure that we are actually building that bridge. Are we building that bridge? Or we just think it's hard without even trying to get up and do something about that? Sometimes we just don't do anything about it. We let ourselves sink in despair. And just as miserable as that is, some people try hard to move on without letting go. I want to tell them one truth: quoting all those "moving on" sayings and posting them on social media over and over again simply states how miserable they are. The past is like a lake full of crocodiles. Yes please, swim away, and let those crocodiles eat you up.

Don't get me wrong now. I only say that because I know how it feels to be stuck in the past. Yes, both refusing to let go and trying to move on instantly. I've learned that letting go and moving on is part of a process, and sometimes it is a life time process. Sometimes the bridge is not perfectly built, and as we cross it, we should fix some parts of it over and over again. But don't you worry:

I've learned the hard way.

My boyfriend and I finally found each other (back again, and it's such a very long story), right after both of us had finally decided to let go of the past; the things we had been dealing with for a very long time. In this case, crappy relationships (some may not that "crappy" tho, but still..) We learned so much from the past, but we had decided to not live in there anymore. I used to think that I will be on a permanent hiatus in the love department, but no, I am not. I'm so grateful that we both met and now here we are with the most precious gift the universe can give: us being together. Something better? So much better.

I also used to be stuck in something as a result of my wild ego and pride. I won't tell specifically what it was, but let's say, for my pride's sake I used to keep doing something, some work I didn't feel like doing.  I used to live a living hell. And the moment I finally decided to let go of that thing, was the moment of victory. I did give up on many things because of that, I thought I had lost many things, but then life got me so much more. That, and happiness, as a bonus.

There are so much life will give us when we finally let go and move on. I put my faith on that, but if you're not really sure about this, there's a more logical explanation to it. Probably, the better things simply have been here for a very long time. They have been laid upon our table for that long. We just can't see it just yet, or worse, we refuse to see it. We focus on things we cannot change and keep pretending that we can. Love life, careers, school life.. sometimes we are where we don't belong and we are stuck in there, when in fact we think we are stuck. When actually what we have to do is to move this ass,

build a bridge,

and get over it...

Break a leg,