You know you live somewhere and are not just visiting in the smallest of ways that are all related to people. Life is about relationships. Not just with our family and friends and coworkers, but the daily people we pass by and have interactions with. Living somewhere is when the local Family Mart cashiers know you like the brown sugar syrup in your latte, the bakery cashier assumes you want honey lemon ginger tea whe she sees you and the dumpling lady doesn’t ask for your order because she knows you want two orders of the first dumpling on the menu. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and one was talking about making impact in the world and how they are often big and small. Yet, these labels are just what they are, labels. Because what is often perceived as a big impact is actually much smaller compared to the waves that small impacts continue to make.
We are so deeply connected to one another in ways that we probably don’t see or are even aware of. The energy you show up with in the small interactions with the security at the metro resonates with them. Acknowledging people and looking them in the eye, asking friends how they really are and sending someone a note that you are thinking of them. These are all small things that make a bigger impact. You may say something one day without realizing how deeply your words resonated with another person. Those words could serve as a catalyst for a change in their life that they aren’t aware started with hearing them come from your mouth.
As a teacher, I see directly everyday the impact that words have on kids and also how actions will always speak louder. Kids are sponges and words have such a deep impact on them. I often worry about my students and the pressure I see on their little shoulders. While as my teacher it is my job to teach them English, I hope I also am teaching them other things like kindness through encouragement and laughter. I think all my kids and everyone in the world could use a little more laughter.
What I have learned about people is that you can only meet them where they have met themselves.
I try to show up everyday and meet people where they are. Forcing things usually never work out. And at the end of the day the only thing we really have control of is what we say and how we show up for people. As a teacher, I am learning when to push students and when to take a step back. I am learning how to understand their behavior and why they do certain things and how to work with that rather than around it.
I was certainly not prepared for how much I love teaching these kids in China. I was talking with a coworker the other day about how while we have our favorites, even the students who drive us crazy are favorites in a different sense. The kids that act out or don’t behave aren’t doing it for no reason. We want them to be kids and part of that is acting out and not behaving like a perfect robot. Kids also let little things about their life slip out that breaks my heart.
There are lots of differences between my life now and the one I lived on the other side of the world in the States. The one thing that remains the same is that the quality of my life is based on the quality of my relationships. My friendships, my relationships with my coworker, students, roommates and all the people I have little interactions with everyday. And certainly the relationship that I have with myself.
At the end of each year, like many I tend to get sentimental taking stock of the past year and looking forward to the new one. Reflecting on the peaks and valleys and setting intentions of change for the following year. We can only meet other people where they have met themselves. Showing up for ourselves and others is all we can really ask.
I am spending the last few days of 2018 with my brilliant students and will be welcoming 2019 with wonderful friends that make Shanghai that much brighter.
Happy New Year,