I have been more quiet for the past months and for a reason: I had no time, because I was finishing my memoir for my master’s degree. Today, it feels good to get back to my keyboard and type this compelling article. Today, let me tell you about kindness.
As a private teacher, I cross paths with many people: young, old, men, women, Quebecers, Brazilians, name it. Lately, the harsh ways in which people treat themselves have struck me.
There is Monique (fictitious name), a sharp fifty-year old who never strays off course. She tells me that her relationship with the English language is composed of failures, shame and apprehension, because she is convinced that she does not have the “English cell in her brain”. When traveling to the United States for vacations, the thought of getting through customs makes her extremely anxious and she rehearses what she will say many kilometers before the borders. If someone wishes to speak to her in English, her brain “shuts down” without fail and she avoids the other person’s attempt to connect with her. She feels ridiculous for not mastering the language at her age and all her friends know that she is not good at it, since she reminds them frequently.
There is also Pierre (fictitious name), a retired man who forces himself to learn a second language, while he could be spending his time doing other activities that he loves. His difficulty remembering grammar rules from class makes him feel like he’s failed.
And then there is Lucie (fictitious name), who can’t answer the question: “What are your strengths in life?” because she truly can’t see them.
I could also tell you about Beatrice, Louis, Josee, Jacques… extraordinary people who all have one thing in common: they do not see their own potential. They severely judge their mistakes and feel they never do enough. When I look at them, I see human beings who all have the same need: to receive a great amount of kindness.
Why demand perfection from ourselves? Why should we always be presentable, well-spoken, succeed at first try and make the right decisions? Do we realize how tough we are with ourselves? I am struck by how hard people are on themselves, since I also have my moments. However, when I am aware of them (for example when I burn the lasagna in the oven), I try to see how I would treat someone else if they had burnt my meal. Right then and there, I choose to love myself and treat myself with kindness.
Instead of censoring ourselves, why don’t we allow ourselves to dance without knowing the steps, to speak without knowing the right words and to sign without hitting the right note? That’s what it means to me to be kind with ourselves: accepting that we are imperfectly perfect and daring to show our true colours without constantly criticizing ourselves. It’s allowing ourselves to be welcomed, be heard, have comfort and to offer ourselves the hug we would give to a kid who has mistaken, who has failed an exam or who has peed their pants at school!
I realize that to me, being a teacher is more than simply teaching a subject; it’s also offering this kindness that so many people are lacking, it’s believing in them more than they believe in themselves, it’s teaching them how to view themselves differently, hoping that they will see they are also worthy of love, acceptance, admiration, protection, support, encouragement.
I see infinite beauty in everyone I meet. I hope that one day they will not only see it for themselves, but that they will be empowered deeply to express their value.
Believe in you.
Offer who you are to the world.
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