This summer, I had to put my writing on hold to earn some money. Shocking, I know, but apparently money is still useful, particularly if you want to pay your bills and eat. Rather than just take any old job to get some money together, I still wanted to spend my summer doing something that I love and, happily, I managed to do just that by putting my TEFL experience to good use and taking in homestay students. This involves foreign students, who want to improve their English, coming to live with us as part of the family for 2-3 weeks at a time. They get formal lessons in the morning for a set number of hours and then we spend some time, a couple of afternoons and a day at the weekend, on excursions which enables them to practise their language skills and, hopefully, also shows them something of my local area and culture. It was hard, hard work being “always-on” with the student(s) living with us but I did also have a lot of fun, too.
As with any teaching I’ve ever done, I learnt a great deal – both about myself and my language. But I think the most important thing I took from my Summer of Students is what it was like to be 15/16. A time when I felt that I could do anything I put my mind to and go anywhere to do just that. Admittedly, I was realistic about my limitations even back then. I never thought for one minute that I would wow the world with my singing or that my tennis skills could win me Wimbledon but I did believe that if I worked hard at the things I was passionate about, actually good at and enjoyed, then there was no reason for me not to be successful at them. Not if I were doing all I could to make it happen.
Do you remember that feeling and how great it was? Perhaps you managed to hold on to it. I didn’t. It got trampled in exam failure, job hunts, job losses, divorce, the loss of a parent and all of the other ‘stuff’ that life throws at you from time to time.
But thanks to Beatriz, Céline and Andrea, I believe that I can reclaim it or, at least, some semblance of it. (A huge thank you from me, girls. You are, all of you, extraordinarily talented young women and an inspiration.) So, I’m making some changes, taking more chances and forcing myself out of my comfort zone to see if that helps me get back on track and rediscover the risk-taking teenager who I know is still in there somewhere, however deeply buried! Because rather than boring myself – and everyone else! – stupid with a long list of excuses, I’d much rather be the kind of person who sees a challenge and says “Oh, why not?” and then gives whatever it is a go.
When was the last time you did something that scared you?