“No….! Not another presentation assignment!”
“But, teacher! The topic is too complicated for me!”
“I swear to God. This is way beyond what I can do!”
“*general groaning noise with unintelligible mumbles*”
These are what I usually hear; either uttered by my students in English class, or classmates in college when something remotely challenging is assigned. Groans of agony laced with genuine despair ripple through the room as students attempt to fruitlessly bargain with the teacher citing that the tasks are too difficult.
Well, that’s the goddamn point!
Listen, here, my dudes. You’re in a classroom because you wanted to learn, right? You wanted to improve your understanding of something whether it be English, drawing, or photography.
You suck right now. You are speaking broken English, drawing hands behind a body, or take blurry pictures with hideous exposure.
But you’re learning! You have your teacher to guide you and your classmates to hold you tight when things get tough.
I know it’s hard to admit to yourself that you suck. It’s frustrating to not be at the level you wish to be, but that’s the reality. You’ve gotta accept that you suck, but that’s not all. Yes, you suck now, but with lots of tears and sweat (literally), you will improve.
Listen to me. No one, and I mean, no one can get to where they are now without the fear of falling, without trying something new, without actually falling. If you don’t believe me, think of someone you deem as successful in a field you’re most afraid to fail. Shoot them a message asking them how they started out. Seriously, do it so that your illusion of natural talent will be shattered. Even when it comes to arts, there’s only 10% talent, and like 90% hard work.
Or you can think back to any skills that you possess now. Any skills will do- hair-curling, bicycle riding, driving, singing, reading, heck, even writing Khmer. Try to think back to the first time you tried to do it. Did you just magically pick up a pencil and write beautifully cursive Tom Teav story? Nope. You were likely in your first grade, struggling to even hold the pencil right. It might have taken you almost a year to even fit your ក into the square of paper provided. You see? Anything worth learning takes time and practice. If you have to live by any rule, let this be it.
Think of challenges as not obstacles, but bosses you have to fight to level up. What’s the point of a game if you are never going to level up and just run around the screen all day? You might not be able to defeat the boss at the first, (or the tenth) try, but with enough persistence and swearing, you will finally slay that piece of hardened broccoli and continue to the next level!
As Michelle Obama, the first black and Ivy League graduate first lady of the United States who got to where she is today with many doubts, sweats and failures put it:
“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages. And I know that because I’ve seen it myself. […] Life will put many obstacles in your path that are far worst than a bad grade. You’ll have unreasonable bosses, and difficult clients and patients. You’ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks, that will come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet.”
If you want to improve your public speaking skills, you’ve gotta speak. If you want to be a renowned painter one day, you’ve gotta paint. It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.
Complimentary reading on living life like a gamer: Player One, Listen Up.