Who am I? Well, I’m supposed to be an adult and sometimes I’m still not sure what that means. I thought I had it all figured out in high school, then I went to college and got thrown into a tailspin as I realized that life wasn’t quite as simple or easy as I thought it would be. I used to be so frustrated when things didn’t pan out for me, or I failed at something I thought for sure was going to be a success. I remember during a lecture in my education course, my professor gave us each a piece of paper and dimmed the lights. We were to make our self-portrait, as simple as that. No directions, just us as we see ourselves. While it seemed simple, it was harder than I thought. In those 30 minutes, I did a lot of deep thinking about myself.
As I went through college, figuring things out one day at a time, I just decided to stop expecting myself to be a certain way. I’m always evolving as the time changes, the places and people move and I make new goals for myself. I think the biggest challenge I faced was living up to other’s expectations of me. My goals and the things that made me happy didn’t necessarily mesh with what other’s wanted of me. It stopped me from pursuing what I wanted to and caused me a lot of stress. I’m not saying that I went crazy doing whatever I like, just that I started thinking about myself as a person and what I wanted. If I wasn’t hurting others, why should I give in to their expectations and make myself unhappy? I needed to take control of my happiness and evaluate how I wanted to live my life. I was in control of my self-portrait. It was a freeing moment.
At 24 years old, I’m still figuring it out. Things change and I experience new things that give me new perspective. Shortly after I had this experience in my lecture, I jetted off to Japan to start teaching kindergarten. Everything was different, and I changed once again. I watched my students change as well through interacting with me. They had never seen a Muslim woman wearing hijab. It was new and interesting to them. Their worldview expanded as well as mine. Even though they were so young, they had a tremendous impact on me. My self-portrait slowly looked different once again. Never underestimate the power of a child and the things you can learn from them. 🙂
The kids in my class LOVE to create artwork. I found them creating their own self-portraits in class one day and my mind wandered back to that moment in my classroom back home as I struggled with my own self-portrait. As I watched the kids create their own pictures, I saw a simple innocence and enthusiasm that made me smile. They have so much ahead of them! One of the things I love about teaching is seeing children be their true selves. When you’re that young, you don’t have the restraints of an adult. You aren’t scared of failure and are more willing to take risks for pleasure. Somewhere along the line, we change under societal pressure. Seeing the kids joyfully running around everyday, loving others and fighting it out when needed is inspiration.
Have you ever seen a child who feels like they have suffered an injustice? God forbid! A small child recognizes injustice and raises their voice against it. As adults, we often overlook things for our own comfort. We can learn a lot from children. 🙂