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A STEP THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

“ All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Disney

My life took a turn when I set forth to make my dream a reality with all the courage I had.

Flashback 2014: While working at one of the world’s leading MNCs, I started to feel restless inside. I would see my seniors work, more like machines than humans. Seeing them, I would ask myself if I wanted to do this and if I am happy doing what I am and the answer would make me uncomfortable. I remember talking to my colleagues but they had no answer and a majority of my friends thought I am insane. However, somewhere deep within I knew that I can’t sustain in a sector which doesn’t give me happiness. And that’s when I started exploring options available for switching. Having interned in an NGO before, I always knew, I wanted to work in that space but till then I never had the courage to fight against all odds and take this leap.

 

Failing to find meaning in my work and lack of contentment instilled in me the courage I required and I applied to the Teach For India Fellowship. It was not an easy decision to make. I knew my parents would retaliate my decision and hence, I didn’t discuss with them this idea before applying and decided to take life as it comes. Now, my life depended entirely on the result of the selection process. As I went on clearing each round, the fear started turning into hope and the day I received my offer, I distinctly remember, I was in office and I jumped and had tears, it was as if my prayer was answered.

 

And now, the toughest part begins – Convincing my parents.

 

Since childhood, I would see these children on the streets; begging, playing in the muddy water, drenching in rain, selling little things, holding their siblings and asking for food etc. while I sat comfortably in a car and would see people turn away their backs on these children. And I would ask only one question, “What did I do to get the privilege I have?” and never found the answer. As I grew up, I started questioning the differences and the discriminations that I never understood. The only way out, I understood, was to do something to change their situation with whatever I had. Thus, I interned at an NGO working for child rights. That experience gave me an insight into the lives of the poor yet I was shielded, but I knew that I had found my calling. I never knew when and how I would take the plunge, but I always assured myself that some day I will.

 

And the time had, finally, arrived. The time to take the plunge, to take up the challenge, to gather the courage and the time to convince my parents.

 

So, after receiving the offer, I mentioned this to my parents and they were aghast. I remember my father didn’t talk to me for a complete week and my mother thought that I had lost it. But I knew, for the first time, I had gained something valuable, an opportunity to realize my dream.

I joined the fellowship in May 2015 and rest is history.

 

As I am about to end my fellowship in May this year. If I look back now, I can see a remarkable difference between who I was and who I am today. Not did I win the trust of my parents but also the entire family and friends. The amount of personal growth I have experienced, no other experience could have given me that. Seeing the reality of life so closely, being loved unconditionally, accepted as I am, tears turning into smiles in a few seconds, the hugs and the affection and so on… I have lived through these 2 years in a true sense and what is more fulfilling is that I get to see the impact I created. Though I joined as a teacher, I have certainly learnt way more than I taught.

 

Not everybody can understand what we do, but ultimately, we know what we do and what we’ve done, and the satisfaction that comes with it is unparalleled. Its difficult to understand someone else’s journey but to live your own despite challenges, and win over the harsh circumstances each time you face them, makes you a true winner.

I have learnt about life in my classroom and the toughness of it and yet smiled my way through, because I knew I have the 40 tiny lives to lift me up from any kind of situation.

Live your dream, your passion as I lived mine.

Change takes time but the process makes it all worthwhile.

 

Aakriti Kumar

Fellow 2015

Teach For India – Delhi

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