As I recollect, my early teenage years were not the most pleasant ones. I wanted to “fit in” with the popular group, but not being good at sports and then being overweight didn’t help. I was hesitant to try new things for fear of not succeeding or even failing.
I had a favorite teacher who I really admired. I hung on to every word she spoke. I don’t remember how this particular situation started, except that I was hesitant to take part in a inter-school poetry competition, which felt out of my comfort zone.
I still remember Miss Judy’s face looking at me, eyes locked with mine, saying “Mukta, you can and you will!” And I did. She chose the poem for me. She coached me and practiced with me. The memory I have is one of tireless practices, over and over again, a lot of laughter, and some pouting by me.
As the competition day came closer, I felt a nervous energy, an anticipatory excitement and actual joy when I learnt that she would accompany me to the competition. I stood on the stage reciting the animated poem, my voice inflections just as she had shown me how to do so. I received the winning trophy. I am sure I had a smile beaming from ear to ear.
I still remember her smile, her affirmations. However, what has really stood out over all these years has been her confidence and encouragement: “You can and you will!”
I felt encouraged, empowered, inspired and motivated! I felt noticed, believed and valued.
I don’t know if Miss Judy remembers this instance. I have shared the influence she has had in helping me find my voice.
“You can and you will!” I have replayed this phrase in my mind many times. The time when I left India to live and work in new cultures, new work environments. The time when I was a new parent, unsure of what I was doing. The time when I had to take my driving test on the highway with the huge eighteen-wheelers passing by! And more recently as I navigate trying to give voice to the human connectedness in healthcare and promoting a value for relationships in healthcare.
We all face times in our lives when we are called to tread on paths that are untrodden or difficult to traverse. Oftentimes we feel powerless or overpowered by rules and regulations, red tape, or just being outnumbered or different. We feel diminished.
We need someone to tell us we can do it, someone to walk with us on the journey, someone to encourage and empower us because they see us as only another human being. They don’t judge us for the pronunciation of our name, our country of origin, our race, gender, beliefs or status. Their sincere words of affirmation do wonders for our self-esteem. The positive psychological impact is priceless.
Affirming others, empowering others, empowers us! What if we all did this for even just one person?
What a difference we could make!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” —Maya Angelou
#REFLECT: When have you felt encouraged? What can you do to offer encouragement today?
How is the coronavirus and civil unrest around racism changing the way you think of self-care, community and resilience? As this challenging time unfolds, I am frequently posting a quote on this blog with a reflection prompt. Please join in the conversation here or on Twitter with your thoughts or about what you are doing for self-care and care of others. My book explores such ideas too: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.