I was a teachers’ pet in school. I tried to get that status in college and post-grad too, but had limited success there. That didn’t stop me from being in love with certain teachers who I thought were inspiring or added significant value to my life by sharing their knowledge and perspective. I had similar sentiments for people I came across early in my professional life too. I remember giving personalised thank you presents to everyone I learned something from on my first anniversary at Edelman.
In the last couple of years I came across a few other such people.
Oscar – he taught me how to drive and saw me through the process of getting a licence and reaching a point where I could actually drive (and not just claim that I’ve taken lessons in the past). He was precise and thorough. Mostly patient too, except the one time he wasn’t when I ended up crying at the end of the lesson. He reminded me I was his client because surely he feared I’d discontinue my lessons with him. But all I ever thought of him was that he knew a hundred times more than I did, he was my teacher, and I needed to do everything I could to make sure he couldn’t spot an error in my work. Everyone in my immediate circle of friends also went through him to get a UK licence, and I bored them to death with my Oscar stories. They still joke about how I was his favourite student because he mentioned me a couple of times to someone who learned from him after me. There is no non-creepy way to find out the truth, so I just laugh and enjoy every time that’s said because I’d LOVE to be his favourite student.
PS: He gave me a hug when I passed the test. C got a ‘you were lucky’ from him.
Lisa – she was my professional coach for a few months. With her I learned how to hold my ground, deal with difficult people, ask for things I think I deserve, not settle for shit I don’t deserve, and talk assertively. She taught me things that are all obvious, textbook, surviving in the corporate world tricks. Yet, not easy for introverted, anxious, obedient, brought-up-in-a-patriarchal-society characters like me. She unearthed the confidence that was buried deep inside me. I still don’t know if I met her at a time that was right or if she helped me create an environment that became right, but she was behind one of my most successful career years. And I can still do with more of her.
Vicky – she’s the lady who helped me break the weight barrier after innumerable failed attempts. I was a sugar addict who didn’t know whom to talk to when I found out about her. And if this sounds grave, it IS so because I ate cakes, pastries, cookies, chocolates, biscuits, etc every single day. She lives in New Zealand (13 hours ahead of me in the summer) but I needed someone I could trust (she had helped a friend previously) so I didn’t mind early morning WhatsApp calls with her. She listened through my history, my weak points and foods I felt I couldn’t do without – and then helped me take small steps in the right direction. She was always positive and encouraging, and helped me understand that sustaining a change is more important than a short sprint aimed at losing a few kilos. She also gave me the confidence to stay on plan and make good food choices even with my intense travel schedules for work. With her, I lost 11 kilos and am forever grateful for that help.
Julia – she’s the one who’s helped me keep 10 of those 11 kilos off in the past 15 months. I now eat everything I like and go to Julia’s fitness classes. Unlike gyms and many other classes, hers are fun because she has a pleasant and authentic presence, coupled with genuine interest in people who’re in her class. She’s no hard taskmaster but brings enough energy with her for me to push myself and do more. I love her and miss her every time she goes on holiday. I spent a whole day feeling excited after attending her first online class during the pandemic lock-down!
The school of life is ongoing. I’m on the lookout for the next such teacher to walk in and shape my course.