I was chatting to one of my students this evening after class. He asked me if he could ask me a personal question, and I thought, here we go… boundaries! (ah, the skeptic). It turned out that he wanted my opinion on a dilemma he is having about the next step in his education. His question related to whether he should pursue a degree or a diploma; swap from a more training-based approach to a learning approach.
I almost wish he’d asked me something about me!
This is such a hard question to answer, for so many reasons. The student is not from Canada and is planning to go home at some point, to a different culture, with different expectations and different needs. We chatted for a long time about how when you lack a degree, you often hit a ceiling in your career, and the advantages and disadvantages of his quite varying career options, and then I realised that I wasn’t really telling him what I really wanted to tell him: that it doesn`t matter what you do or where you go if you are not passionate about it.
And so I told him.
I told him how unhappy I had been when I was working full-time at teaching and felt that it wasn`t what I really wanted. I told him how I feel that passion is so important, because if you love what you do, you will be successful no matter what. I also told him that it makes me sad when I talk to students and they tell me they have chosen their studies based on what their parents have told them they must do. And I told him that it also makes me sad when people do things out of fear – a fear of failure, or of a lack of money, or of letting others down. And I also told him that some people work to live, and others live to work, and that he needs to decide what he loves to do, what he is passionate about, and worry about the rest later.
What was interesting was how easy it was to give him advice and talk to him about his path, and speak of fear and passion and risks, when these same things have been plaguing me lately. Funny how it is always easy to dispense advice, but not to hear it oneself. I am following my passion, most definitely, but at the same time, there have been some fearful voices popping up and a lot of stalling and procrastinating. And I have been listening to the fearful chirpings a little too much. I think it is so important to take stock, and to make changes if something is not serving you well, but at the same time, you can`t let fear take hold and cause paralysis, blocking you from achieving what you want to achieve.
Tonight was a great lesson for me, but funnily enough, it was not in the classroom, but rather afterwards where I was able to teach something valuable not only to my student, but to myself as well.