Against all Odds

by Anna

I spent my first day at kindergarten glued to the spot next to the door that I had come in, leaving the nursery workers in a state of alarm, fearing that I would run away. When my mum came to pick me up at the end of the day, she decided to stay with me the next day, just in case. It left my mum in a state of unrest and bewilderment, especially considering all the information about the new place and it’s people I had on offer despite the nursery nurse’s report of my excluding behaviour.

The next day, however, I vehemently made it clear to my mum that this was my kindergarten and that she was not supposed to be here. Amidst the confusion shared between my poor mum and the nursery workers was I, cheerfully taking in the place that I had closely examined the previous day, although most, if not all, had assumed that I was just standing next to the door waiting for the perfect moment to do a runner. But actually I had been taking in every single movement, story and event that was going on around me.

Despite having been an open, cheerful and interested child, something had happened around the age of two that noticeably changed my behaviour. From that point on I was more socially awkward. Generally I would not communicate at first when introduced to new people, similar to the kindergarten story, but I would also, for example, not shake anyone’s hand, despite how many times my mum would urge me to do so. The more embarrassed my mum would get, the more urgent her pleas and ultimately the more I shut down.

I was fine with my own company and would avoid large groups of people. Especially when it was an environment new to me or it came to talking in front of the class. There were a couple of occasions where I would even pretend to have lost a presentation and rather get a poor mark than having to stand and talk in front of the class. It also didn’t help that I had a rather invidious teacher who saw very little potential in me. A few years later, at art college, I held a presentation about the colour yellow and had prepared a little bag filled with all things yellow which was passing through the class while I was talking. After the presentation, my teacher told me that maybe I should consider for future presentations that this bag was distracting others away from the actual presentation. Little did she know that this had actually been my intention!

About six years ago I attended a spiritual development group, which mainly consisted of aspiring future mediums whereas I was simply interested in finding out more about my own unexplained experiences. I have long since moved away from the realms of mediumship, however, one thing the group facilitator had said still rings in my ears now: “One day you will be standing in front of a large audience and I want you to be prepared for that moment!” She said that she herself never thought she would have to and my own thoughts went very much the same line. “Why should I if I don’t want to?” She persistently tried to engage us in talking in front of the group to gain more confidence. I hated it and decided that I will not talk in front of an audience, regardless how big or small it may be. Full stop.

How ironical, really, that I did exactly that two days ago. And it felt like the most natural thing in the world! Ok, now, I have been practicing over the past two years. It all started with the longing to go to India which was overridden by a program to teach English at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal. So suddenly I was a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teacher and found myself surrounded by young monks. Then I offered a few workshops on finding our inner self based on meditation and self-healing and finally secured myself a stall at a wellbeing bazaar which was a great way of talking to many people and which I also really enjoyed. Lastly I also made many attempts to educate my fellow workers to improve the ward that I work on with little effect. Mainly because my position doesn’t give me much credibility. However, as part of my own current professional learning, I had chosen a unit on teaching which ultimately gave me the honour of teaching a group of the latest new starters to the trust, with the possibility that I might be able to do this again.

And with pleasure would I do it again! I was, and still am, so excited and passionate about sharing my knowledge and expertise. It shows you just how much life changes you over the years. Many setbacks occur, childhood traumas sit deep and growing up isn’t the easiest of lessons, but the mere act of growing up is what makes us who we are. And even if we don’t always know where we want to be once we’re grown up, as long as we trust that we are here for a reason and that we will get where our destiny will take us, then it will be alright. Fear will always be part of life, just don’t let yourself be held prisoner by it. Instead use it as an inspiration to try anyway.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson sais: „Always do what you are afraid to do.”

And one day, life and fear will have taught us enough about ourselves so that we are able to share and to teach others about it. And as soon as we have found something we feel passionate about, teaching really comes quite naturally.