2020 started with beautiful dreams: a promotion at work, buying a house, a vacation to some new country, a secret wish of finding a soul mate, and then, Corona happened. It felt like God was determined that I face all my worst fears—Fear Factor 2020—and may the strongest person win.
I wanted to travel to a new country—but lockdown happened. I wanted to relax since I wasn’t travelling—my minimum work hours became 12. I wanted to lose weight—I gained 15 kgs, I wanted to try new cuisines—I went hungry multiple times because I had no time to cook. I was waiting for my expected promotion—I was laid off due to Corona. I wanted to buy a house—I had to use my savings to pay rent. I wanted to save money—I had to borrow from others to survive. I wanted to be happy—I was pushed into depression.
Amongst the few who stood by my side, there was one mentor, Vinay Venkata, who did not sympathize, but empathized, with me, he told me some of his experiences and how he came out of them. He said, “You are raging with emotions but it is up to you to channel them. You are burnt out completely, dreams turned into ashes, nothing to lose anymore, but now it is time to rise from the ashes, cry, scream, and vent it all out. Then, once you feel empty, to think about one happy memory, and then one more, talk to people, connect with family. Take one step at a time, accept any job, do random chores to earn enough to survive.”
I have huge respect for my mentor, so I followed his advice. One person at a time, and to my surprise I found many who suffered like me, especially lots of teachers who had to work on farms or sell vegetables on the roadside to earn two meals a day. I started empathizing and realized their problems are a lot worse than mine, so tried to help in any way possible: trying to get jobs for them, helping them manage online classes with free training. Slowly, my pain reduced, I smiled and promised myself: I will work twice as hard as I used to, I will stretch to my limits, and I will come out of this, not to prove anything to anyone, but for myself and my mom. I got a part-time job at a school, Priyadarshani Indrayninagar, some assignments, and at least enough income to survive. I picked up the bits and pieces from my broken dreams and started again with a new dream. It was time for me to rise from the ashes, to grow and fly.
I realized when we have hope, good things come to us and that’s exactly what happened, I got lucky and met Professor Curtis Kelly and the amazing members of BRAIN SIG. They were like God-sent angels; they conducted free webinars for my schools; they gave their valuable time and knowledge to us without expecting anything in return. They were so kind and generous that they sponsored me and two of my friends to attend the JALT online conference. I met Eric Hagley from IVE at the conference and he gave an opportunity for our Indian students to be a part of the awesome International Virtual Exchange. I always wanted my schools to get global exposure and my dream came true.
Even though I had lost my job, my relationship with the schools got stronger as they understood that I am there to help them in my own small way. Live for others, is what Professor Curtis always says and that is exactly what I follow.
I am sure many people have gone through something like this or might still be in this phase, and I have a few pointers for them: learn from your mistakes, talk to your loved ones, do anything that makes you happy, and work on one problem at a time. Situations and people will pull you down, they can dampen your spirit, but nobody can damage your soul. Believe in yourself and “Believe the best is yet to come.” Rest if you must, but don’t you quit…
 Comment from Curtis: “Live for others” was the life mission of the late Rex Tanimoto, an American from Hawaii and one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met in Japan. As Nathan Furuya said, he was “full of Aloha all the way down to his toes.”
Manisha Parchure is a trainer from Pune, India. She does Teacher Training for schools in and around Pune, creates and conducts Soft-skills and Communicative English Training for university students. She has her MCom from Pune University and TTT certification from TISS, Mumbai. She is currently working at Priyadarshani Indrayaninagar and Vidura Digi.