I got an email from a former student’s mom last week asking me to call her. She didn’t tell me why she wanted to talk with me, and I’ve been so caught up with work (again, my full time day job + five side jobs). I completely forgotten about it until today after work.
Turns out my 18-year-old student got dumped by a guy. She lost all her appetite and talked about killing herself. Her mom was worried sick and ran out of ideas of what to do, so she sought help from me. The concerned parent said, “You’ve been her idol for the past few years. She talks about you all the time. I think she would listen to you.” I was on the subway, and my eyes got blurry the moment I heard it. I have such a soft spot for my students.
After I was done giving yet another class tonight, I texted her and asked if she wanted talk. She said yes right away. Like Steve Jobs in his life changing and paradigm shifting Stanford commencement speech, I began our conversation with three stories–three stories of my heartbreaks. I told her how I’d degraded and embarrassed myself for holding on to dead-end relationships, how I’d turned myself into a psycho and how I’d learned from all these relationship mistakes. She cried listening to my stories. She couldn’t believe I’ve experience pain like that too because I’ve always been so cheerful in front of her. She thought I was telling her story.
I don’t think what I said was any different from what her friends and parents had been telling her, but she said it did help because I am her inspiration. She has admired me from day one, and she wants to grow up and be capable and strong just like me.
She said, “You’ve really inspired and impacted me a lot. You’re always doing so many things, and you’re so devoted to everything you do. Sometimes when things get tough I’d say to myself if you can do, I can do it!”
I’d never cried in front of a student like that, but I just couldn’t hold my tears of joy or pride or whatever. I mean as much to her as Steve Jobs means to me. People, even other teachers, think it’s silly that I try so hard on things that no one notices, but I’ve always reminded myself I gotta set a good example for those who look up to me. I need to live my life to the fullest, embrace who I am, stay away from negativity, keep my integrity and never stop dreaming so that I can proudly tell my students what to do when they seek my help. What she said has proved that I was right all along. I do make an impact to their lives. I do teach more than just English.
All those bullets that I had to bite to overcome obstacles and rejections were so worth it.