I always thought the process of getting a job was simple and straightforward: you go to school, you learn a bunch of things you need to know, and you’ll be ready to be thrown into the workforce (or at least ready enough).
These past few months have been sobering for me in realizing that this belief is very far from the actual truth. In reality, no amount of education can completely and entirely prepare you for the real world.
Don’t get me wrong: school does teach you what you need to know (usually) and prepares you as best it can in a very comforting environment. As a language teacher, my job is to help students use English in the outside world. As a teacher, my job is to teach speaking, writing, reading and listening skills, as well as strengthen them and tailor them for the modern Torontonian society (whose language is CONSTANTLY changing. Seriously. What is ‘the 6’?)
But I’ve come to this realization that I can only prepare my students, just like school can only prepare me. Everything else comes down to how confident I am in my skills, and same goes with using a language.
As a language teacher, you come across students who are afraid to speak English (or whatever language you teach) outside of class in fear of being made fun of. In the same way, I was petrified of my practicum because I knew it was completely different from the simulations I did in class.
After all the training and the preparations I can make beforehand, there’s one thing I realized I needed: confidence. That simple belief that you are able to do what you set out to do and that you are absolutely able to do it is one of the most important things to have when it comes to anything. It’s not an easy thing to gather, either. Everything could absolutely go wrong or you could feel that you’re totally inadequate to do what you do.
The thing about confidence is, when you have it, that it makes you feel happy and powerful. You’re able to do what you want to do and are willing to take on any challenge. Surprisingly, your confidence grows. When you don’t have it, it would be like driving through a wall of bricks – it makes it harder to be motivated and it sometimes moves you away from your path and your goals. It literally becomes a roadblock (though it would actually be figuratively speaking, because it doesn’t actually build a roadblock. That is impossible.)
Now don’t get me wrong, confidence is a very hard thing to build. When someone takes your confidence away, whether through negative comments or through a horrible experience, it’s hard to bring that back up. It’s hard to say ‘I can do this’ when someone else is saying ‘Nope, you actually can’t’. It’s also hard to try to become better when you feel that nobody will accept your mistakes and that you’re supposed to be perfect (which is not true, considering the only way we learn anything is through mistakes). We are our harshest critics, which is okay as it keeps us aware, but letting our thoughts stop us from doing certain things will only make it worse. The world is our playground, and can only learn when we fall off the monkey bars.
So, and I know a lot of this was very incoherent, be confident. Feel free to make mistakes. Avoid toxic environments. Talk to someone. Believe you can do it.
All of that is easier said than done, but there is such a thing as a happy ending.