If you get good grades, you will get a good job. If you get a good job, you will get paid well. If you get paid well, you can do whatever you want. But, will you have the energy to do what you want after getting that high paying job you’ve always wanted? Will you still have the same dreams you had in the past while advancing through the levels in your high paying job? Will you have the same confidence that you had when you first dream about your dreams? Will you live your life according to what others think?
My name is Sheena Kothary and I am 21 years old. I was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey and currently reside in Plainsboro, New Jersey.
As cliché as it sounds, I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. I was the kid that used to line up her stuffed animals and dolls to read out loud to them. I always had a creative mind and loved all the artsy aspects of life. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I really started to question myself and get influenced by the negativity of others. While others were discussing what grade they got on a test, I was the one that enjoyed talking about my passion for dance and art. Perhaps this is why my best friend and I clicked so instantly. Growing up in a heavily populated South Asian town, I often would come across situations that would make me believe that my choices and interests were wrong. While others were out taking classes for school, I spent my time in the studio dancing, wondering what I could paint next, or simply sitting on my piano bench playing around with notes. I would always get attacked with comments like, “You know you won’t make money being a teacher,” or, “I wish I could become a teacher, that’s such an easy path.” A part of me would always want to tell these people off, but instead I would take these comments and let it simmer within me.
I grew up in a household where the emphasis was not put solely on grades but also heavily on creativity and passion. My parents always pushed my brother and me to experience new things in life and they nudged us to follow our hearts. They taught us how to truly live and for that, I will forever be grateful. I would also like to say that no path is “easy”. We all go through different hardships along the way to achieve our goals, but it is the support we have that allows us to move on with grace. The world will not always appreciate your actions or decisions and honestly, that’s okay. If you asked me a few years ago I wouldn’t be able to say that with confidence because I was the type of person who would try to please everyone before my own self. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to do what makes you happy.
Since most people’s primary focus when undertaking their education in any field is money, there was a point where I tried to convince myself that being a teacher isn’t what I really desired. I looked into being a dance therapist so that I could still involve my passion for dance. I tried finding the highest paying job that involved working with children. The girl who couldn’t even look at a needle almost convinced herself to have a desire in becoming a pediatrician. Luckily, I found what success meant for myself before making a decision that was not fit for me. If I am able to do what I love every day, I’m successful. If I can make a difference in people’s lives, I’m successful. And although this definition for success is different for each one of us, I truly wish that everyone finds what makes them successful. I have always been the type of person who will do everything just so that I can make someone happy. Saying “no” was rare for me and I’d always maintain my bubbly personality in hopes to see a smile on someone else’s face too. Therefore, when I heard what others had to say about me, I simply just absorbed the words without ever acting upon them. The voices of others mattered more and was respected more by me than my own, and that was something I needed to stop doing.
As I make my way into the teaching world there are a few things that I will strive to teach my students as these are things I wish I was taught in school growing up: self-respect and self-awareness. We’re constantly taught to treat others fairly, kindly, use our manners, and the list goes on. Rarely are we taught how to treat and respect ourselves, though. The better we understand ourselves, the easier it is to follow our own minds rather than the thoughts of others. Just like how we’re taught not to cheat off someone during a test, the same should apply in our actual life. Our paths are unique and it is up to each individual to do what makes them happy. We spend our days in school switching from class to class, subject to subject, getting as much information stuffed in our minds. Rarely, however, are we taught to take a break from the mind and focus on our heart. Rarely are we taught how to take what's inside us and embrace it outside rather than just taking knowledge and keeping it inside. I wish something as simple as this was focused on more when I was in school because I almost took a wrong path in not only my career choice, but in other aspects too because of the influence of others. Before being aware of my wants and desires, I soaked up the voices of others which opposed my own, and this nearly made me take a different turn in life.
My name is Sheena Kothary and this is my Project Why.