Five years ago, I was in an extremely dark place.
I struggled to stay motivated in both my personal and academic life. Everyday, I felt as if I was just going through the motions. Often, I would feel extremely lonely.
I will never forget the day one of my teachers noticed the sadness in my eyes. She asked me to stay after class and talk to her for a bit. I did not know it at the time, but our conversation was one that I would treasure forever. In complete darkness, one of my teachers took the time to turn on the light. She was someone I loved, respected, and truly looked up to. Knowing she was there for me beyond the curriculum has played a major influence in my life.
Over the years, I met several other teachers who acted as sheroes in my life during some of my hardest moments. My teachers were not only my educators, but my friends and my mentors. I’ve felt a special connection with several female educators in my life, and they’ve taught me so much about myself and how I want to tackle the world. Here are four major lessons I’ve learned from these awesome mentors throughout my academic career.
1. Remember Your Worth
Educators are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever met. Often, my teachers would spend long hours working hard and grading papers. At times, feeling unappreciated was inevitable. However, despite these occasional thoughts, my teachers continued to move forward, reminding me to do the same in my life.
As a young girl who struggled with self-confidence and always strived to feel like I was “enough,” this advice resonated with me. My teachers inspired me to realize that I did not have to measure up to unrealistic standards or strive for perfection; by working hard, staying motivated, and remembering my worth, I was already doing enough.
2. Learn Outside the Classroom
One of my favorite teachers was also a therapist who worked night shifts, all while getting her PhD. Although school can take up a lot of time, my educators always reminded me of the value of getting involved beyond the classroom. Seeing them juggle multiple activities inspired me to do the same.
To them, there were no limits except the limits I put on myself. The inspiration and mentorship from my teachers allowed me to start a nonprofit during my academic career, which has been an amazing and educational experience.
3. You’ll Make Mistakes
One of my favorite parts of several of my teachers was their ability to be vulnerable. They weren’t afraid to open up about their past, have bad days, and remind us all that it is okay make mistakes.
Whether it be failing a test or hurting someone you love, school is full of ups and downs. Having a mentor who was not always perfect was a great reminder that even the strongest people have weak moments—and that’s totally okay.
4. Female Mentors Are Important
Seeing my teachers as strong, female, mentors has been the best reminder that every individual can make a difference. Every young girl has the potential to grow into a shero.
For me, this was such a beautiful realization. Coming from a Pakistani background, my mom was never allowed to get an education. As a young girl, she was told she was incapable of learning.
Often, when entering classrooms, self-doubt would fill my mind. However, the female mentors in my life (including my mom) have taught me that I can achieve all of my goals. This female mentorship has been an essential part of me developing confidence and courage to tackle the future.
It is safe to say that I would not be where I am today without the amazing educators who have believed in me along the way. From last minute homework questions to important advice, my teachers have been instrumental to my growth throughout the years. Because of my teachers, I have become a strong and motivated leader, ready to tackle all of life’s challenges.