I think not many people would say yes, after all, we have to be practical and not follow our passions all the way to the long kang, especially if our passions cannot support ourselves financially. It's kind of sad, isn't it? Life is not too long nor too short, and here in Singapore we spend a good part of our lifetime educating ourselves. Thereafter, we spent another good part of our lifetime working, likely in a job that if we can afford to do so, we'll never do it willingly.
I'm sure you've heard many times about following your passions, and then the money will follow you. I won't say it's false, but sometimes, the problem is that our passions are really not marketable, or that we're really not good at something even though we're passionate in it. Kinda sad, but that's reality.
Therefore, I'm extremely fortunate that I stumbled upon something that I like to do and will continue to do so as long as I'm able to do so. I like teaching. It's not so much about loving the subject that I teach (some subjects I don't even like it myself) but more about teaching people. I love teaching young people. I love the sudden sparkle when they heard something for the first time, or see the world in a different lens that they've never used before. That is electrifying and very addictive to me. I feel more energised after teaching. When I feel depressed, I feel better after teaching. I really think that teaching is the way that I got myself out of depression in the past.
I wrote this article because the last few days, I knew of this very intelligent primary school girl who is suffering from mild depression because of stress in an elite school. It was so bad that she had to take MC to recover from all the issues from school. This is a complex issue revolving around low self esteem and inability to take failures. I was asked to help her out and I think I did something meaningful to at least let her forget her troubles for a couple of hours. I let her play with LEGO, something that girls of her age is not familiar with.
I did it out of instincts, even though I was asked to help her out on maths, which is the area that is causing her stress. But I thought that the root problem isn't the math itself but something deeper, so the best way is to use a non-threatening environment to tackle the root problem - low self confidence. What is LEGO if it's not a toy? So after conducting the lesson and letting her build a model of a race car, I guided her to come up with theories and then testing it to see if it's true. I want her to experience small failures in a very safe environment, where there are no marks or exam papers for everyone to see her failings. She also had some problems fixing the LEGO bricks (usually girls don't get to play with LEGO, so that sort of hampered her ability to connect the bricks compared to boys of the same age), so solving her own problems independently with my supervision will create that kind of safe environment to fail.
My idea is that the confidence and self esteem is like a muscle. To train it, you got to learn how to fail in small ways and progressively fail in bigger ways without letting that negative feelings overwhelm you. After all, to be successful in life is to be progressively defeated by bigger and bigger obstacles. If not, you're not growing.
I hope I've made her day. She probably had no idea that she taught me a lot more than I taught her.