Asia/ Early Childhood Education/ Japan/ Student Teaching
August 6, 2013

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten

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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.

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 1

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 2

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.

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 3

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 4

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. 🙂

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 5

Self-Portrait in a Japanese Kindergarten 6

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. 🙂

Q: What about your self-portraits? Has it been a bumpy ride for you as well, constantly changing?

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  • Product Hoochie

    I loved this! Best of luck in your teaching career!

  • Great text! I still feel so young… I am 21 now but sometimes I still feel like 16, with less expectations and less pressure… and then I know that I’m 21 and responsible for the things I do. Sometimes this is hard to me, to be honest. I appreciate the time when I was a kid so much! ((:
    I hope your career as a teacher will enlighten you often! <3

    GIG love <3

    • Yes, I feel the same way often. It’s like our minds are still carefree but the world reminds us we have responsibilities and adult things to do.

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Such a moving, thought-provoking post! Really well written!

  • Ileana

    Awww these are adorable! What a beautiful post!


  • Casey

    At 25, I completely empathize with what you said here. Sometimes it’s hard to be okay with evolving, and we are at such an odd age because we still feel so much like teens but are well into adulthood.

    As a high school teacher myself, I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences as a teacher and think it’s so awesome that your students can be exposed to a different culture through you. It’s wonderful they are learning about other ways of life at such a young age and coming into realizing that our differences aren’t so great! 🙂

    • Yessss. It’s hard to fathom that I’m at the age to be a mother sometimes! Mind blowing.

      I’m glad you are enjoying it Casey! I always wonder about my Japan teaching related posts because they aren’t as popular as the beauty ones and stuff.

      • I guess I may be more apt to like these posts because I have a background in education, as well, but I love them. Keep writing for me, if for no one else. LOL

  • Gina Bestari

    hahahahah the drawings are so innocent and cute….and plus you’re a teacher, I think it is the best way possible to impart knowledge especially to the much younger generation 🙂 Eid Mubarak, Autumn 🙂

  • Betzy Carmona

    This looks like some kiddo fun 🙂

    • They were definitely enjoying themselves. 😉

  • Alia

    You’re right, we can learn so much from the little guys!

  • My life is a never-ending roller coaster 😉

    • I hope in a good way! 😛

  • emtha

    Beautiful post! I feel like my self-portrait has changed drastically over the years, but it’s nice to continue to grow and change 🙂

    • It is. I’m happier with myself as I get older!

  • glad your enjoying your career ! Those are pretty artwork from the kids 😉

  • Natasha

    I think it’s amazing that you’re a teacher!

  • Wow! What a very inspiring write-up! This really got me thinking. As a photographer I take a lot of self-portraits (literally) but I never really got to think about how I see myself. Most of the time I’m happy with who I am, but there are other times when I’d have low self-esteem. I just want to fulfill my dreams though and be happy through the journey. ♥

    • Aw, you’re sweet! I think we all have times when low self-esteem hits… in fact, I was even discussing this with a friend last night. When we are young it’s so crazy because we don’t really know who we are and are affected by others easily… I think once we get older we stop caring so much and just do us. 🙂

  • Thank you Margaret!

  • Beauty_Blogette

    Love it! What a beautiful post. 🙂

  • Somdyuti

    Aww the potraits are so cute.. hehe I used draw these too. Infact, sometimes when I’m tired, I still draw figures like this on the back page of my copy. Haha <3

  • Pingback: Self-Portraits Revisited: Kindergarten in Japan - mrs gaeul()

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