Changing My Community

Change is something that is seen as “controversial”, something that is “taboo”. But I see change as something that sparks conversations/discussions, as something that inspires others to take action. When I refer back to the question, I become a little bit anxious because sometimes to inspire change it takes courage. As someone with anxiety, it can sometimes be hard to be brave and to take action. At first, I believed to inspire change you had to rock the boat, and be loud and present… but then I realized there are different ways to inspire change.

I am an after-school teacher at JHS 185, I teach different subjects such as Creative Writing, Webtoon 101, and Dungeons & Dragons. A lot of the classes I teach have an element where my students are able to express themselves through a creative outlet. But, as expected from middle schoolers, sometimes it is difficult to draw creativity from them. One of the main reasons why some of my students didn’t want to write or draw was because they continued to compare themselves to others, or because they didn’t think it was good enough. I taught my students to do art for themselves, and that everyone is feeling/thinking the same way they are. I told my students how I used to be like them and even read them one of my old drawings from Middle School, to show them that in order to get better at something you have to try it first. Even if their first try might not be subjectively good, as long as you have the courage to continue, you never know where you’ll end up.

I am teaching my students how to change their mindsets about themselves and their capabilities. In Middle School kids are going through a lot of changes both physically and mentally, and it’s hard and often belittled because they’re “just kids”. I want to offer them a safe place where they can express themselves without the worry of being judged. Change often comes with each new generation, who are inspired by the generation before them. I believe the job of an educator is to inspire the next generation to help to make the world a better place.

What am I an expert at?

I guess I am an expert (that still has a lot to learn) at Improving. I have a lot of hobbies. That is just something that someone with ADHD might have since I’m constantly changing my interests based on what’s on my TikTok FYP or what I’m currently watching. Two hobbies that have been extremely consistent are art and writing. Some of my friends and family who have seen my work think that I’m an expert, but I can’t call myself an expert with confidence, because I find myself constantly comparing my work with others. It’s a ruthless case of Imposter Syndrome, that affects more people than I would’ve thought. Even knowing this, I still can’t say I’m an expert because there’s a lot that I don’t know and can’t yet do. I originally wanted to say that I’m an expert at learning but that wouldn’t be exactly right because most of the information I learn is locked away in the deep recesses of my brain, and I don’t always go out of my way to learn.

Something I am good at is improving. Recently I took a look at one of my first drawings and I cringed, remembering how good I thought it was, but then I looked at the work I do now, which isn’t perfect but looks so much closer to the art I want to produce. I did the same with my writing, I took an idea that I’ve been developing since High School and am fine-tuning that idea so that I can write a novel. When I first read through the old synopsis and sketches I almost died of embarrassment, but I knew there was a solid foundation for the idea and knew that I can build on that idea and make it into something I can be proud of. I compare the first first chapter and the current first chapter and character designs and see a huge improvement. The storyline is more coherent and the characters have so much more depth and diversity.

Improving also applies to my mental health as well, while I can’t say my depression and anxiety are cured, I can say that I’m in a better place mentally than I was four years ago. Something I always see myself doing is improving whether it’s: make-up, my sense of fashion, my art, my writing, my cooking, my gaming; it’s something that I can see, it’s something that doesn’t require skill or talent, it’s something that’s measured by myself. It’s something that I can say with confidence that I am an expert on.