Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Coping with changes

I have not been feeling that great lately, trying to cope with all the changes that have been taking place, at the same time when my chronic headaches are driving me insane. They are synchronous with my heartbeat, though subtle but an unpleasant tempo, which never seem to end.

After 5 weeks, I have finally settled into my new routine of being teacher on Tuesdays, and student on Wednesdays. For a while I was thinking, have I over-committed myself? Was I realistic about how I could cope with multiple tasks at one time? Later I realised those were "transition anxieties".

Being teacher. It was not altruism that I signed up as tutor at a family centre, but was largely driven by the need to feel useful and find more productive use for my spare time. When I was asked if I could tutor an O level student in Mathematics, I was... apprehensive. The cover of the textbook was black; that was as much as I could remember about secondary school Mathematics. I told my friends that if I were to turn down the assignment, it would be admitting defeat and that would be a blow to my self-confidence. Thus, I let the conceited and unyielding me took over, and I said "Yes" to the task. What I could do well at 16, I was sure I could do it much better now. So I thought.

The first time I read a Mathematic assessment book after almost 2 decades, it was like reading Greek. I was, however, filled with certain admiration and respect for myself to have overcome these "problems" once when I was a teenager. Even so, to pick up from where I have left off the last time was not easy. There was a lot of inertia in the beginning and as I was practising the sums and reviewing solutions, I had constantly doubted if my decision was correct.

Now that things have fallen into place nicely and I have also got up to speed practising Mathematics, it did not seem like an impossible task. True enough, it feels good be useful and the sense of achievement from solving complicated algebra is immense. Above all, it is the unexpected gift of friendship that renders true meaning to what I am doing. Friendship. What could a pair of 20 and 30 year olds have in common, you may think? Yet, there have been moments when I was truly moved and tickled by the naiveness of this young lady.

A youth is like a piece of red hot metal, so versatile and filled with energy. If it is bent and mould into the right shape and form, it can become something strong and beautiful. I feel the same for this young lady whom I am tutoring. Although she may not be the brightest, she has sufficient abilities to achieve what she set out for herself. Polytechnic is where she would like to go after this and I am sure this decision of hers would transform her life. I am glad to be part of this "moulding and shaping" process and I just hope we both will bring out the best in each other. We can achieve something good from now until December.

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