I was born in India and came to America when I was 5 years old, so I was raised in Queens, NY. My parents are both Gujarati. My mom is a stay at home mom and my dad owns a candy store in Manhattan. As a kid I had many dreams and still do. I remember all those career days in school where I wanted to be chef, an environmentalist, a photographer and even a journalist (all during different points of my youth). Cooking and photography are still passions of mine. However, none of these became professional goals of mine, and, once I got into college, I was completely unsure about what I wanted to do in the future.
By the end of college, after completing my bachelor’s in English, I was still unsure. A few months afterward, I got a job at my alma mater as a Library Media Assistant. Though not glamorous, I took the job knowing I needed to work and wanted to do something low stress (does that sound like a cop out? Maybe. But, I enjoy what I do and love having free time).
After a couple of years I took advantage of the school’s tuition remission policy for employees and began to pursue a MST (Master of Studies) in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). I knew having a master’s degree would be important for my future, wherever it may lead. I suppose the older I got the less aware I became of what my true passions were (are), and I wanted to go back to school so I wouldn’t become stifled. I did get resistance from my parents when I moved out of their apartment a few months after graduating college. I was 22 and I needed to experience my life. I didn’t go away to school, so I spent my late adolescence a bit too sheltered. I knew if I waited it would just get harder, I think it is still a sore subject with them but they got over it (I hope).
After finishing the MST, I went back to working at the library and was unsure if I was mentally equipped to handle the pressures that today’s teachers face and it prevented me from taking the next step. I was so afraid and I told myself that the public school system was not for me. I told myself all these lies about the pressure of being a teacher, but in reality I was just afraid, like being the new kid in America, which I was way back when. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough and that I would be ridiculed.
Recently, though, I reconnected with an old friend/colleague from the TESOL program. She motivated me to take the chance and apply to teach through NYC teacher application. I was accepted into their database this past July and am looking for placement at a school. I couldn’t be more excited! Ssshhh…don’t tell my current boss!
For the longest time, I was worried that I would not be able to handle taking the job home with me. It’s easier for me to say “oh, that’s not something I really want to do”, rather than be honest with myself and say “oh, I really want to try that but I’m afraid I won’t be good at it.”
I think a lot of things helped get to a point where I decided to pursue this career and it took time! I will be 30 in 6 months so it’s not like I came straight of college with a path in mind. It took a lot of self-reflection, and there are so many questions I had to ask myself–most importantly what will make me feel as if I am living a complete life. The most important for me was finding something that would excite me and challenge me. If I follow these two things I know I won’t be disappointed, whether it’s in a career or life in general.
My parents are supportive, but they still worry. Although I appreciate that they don’t antagonize. I know they harbor a lot of their feelings, so, sometimes, I can’t tell how they feel about the course of my life. I think it’s hard for them; they don’t want to see me fail, but, at the same time, I think they don’t want others to see me fail. I think that is very Indian thing–worrying about what the “others” will think.
As far as advice, if you know what you love then do it! If you don’t, keep searching and don’t settle! As a kid I thought everything would flow, and I would become this well rounded adult. But, things are more complicated and my desires changed– I started to have more questions than answers, which is totally okay! You have to keep moving forward and challenging yourself. Handle all pressures with a grain of salt, as cliché as it sounds. You can’t please everyone, not even yourself–but you have try to do what makes you happy, and if people judge (even, if they are your parents) they are the ones that need to change, not you…that’s easier said than done, but if they love you they will stand by you, and support you sooner or later. They really just want to see you succeed and be secure. Stay strong, be humble and don’t be afraid to take some risks!