I come across hundreds of students who are extremely shy to speak in public!
I am not talking about speaking on stage, from a podium. I am talking about just in a class when the teacher is teaching… when she is asking a question. Yes, hundreds of students become tongue-tied, blanked-out… They forget what they want to say… They fumble, make more and more mistakes… And, then, they look around and assume that all others are ‘perfect’… They assume that others are laughing at their ‘mistakes’… They assume that something is wrong with them, only with them. So, they become ‘guilty’… apologetic… even angry with themselves… frustrated or depressed.
I was one such student… Desperately shy… Chronically nervous in class and at every gathering!
Speaking from stage was just unthinkable… Too terrifying even to think… leave alone attempt!
In class, I had the right answers. But, I had a weak heart… too weak to raise my hand… leave alone stand up!
So, whenever the question was thrusted upon me by my teachers, and when I found myself tongue-tied and blanked out… I too would look around only to see all ‘perfect’ souls around, only to experience that deep ‘hole in my soul’ – my terrible personality defect – and, then, I would stay away from others, all alone, and brood, feel ashamed and guilty…
Then, that obvious thing would happen: I would compare myself – the ‘defective soul’ – with all those ‘perfect ones’… and suffer inside!
When your self-confidence is so low, you cannot feel good about yourself. You feel you are worthless… a waste!
Let me tell you this: you have to ‘experience’ it… to ‘understand’ it!
So, coming back to hundreds of my students who are like me… like how I was at their age… I tell them this: “Take heart, dear; God has cast this defect in you with a purpose.” I assure them this: “Your flaws are your very strengths, your special endowments!” Then, I tell them one of my favorite stories.
Long time ago, there lived an old woman in a Chinese village. Everyday, she would carry water from the village stream to her house. Two pots, hung on each side of a pole, she would carry them on her shoulders.
Now, one of the pots had a crack on it; so, by the time the woman reached home, half of the water spilled out of the pot… while the other pot was perfect and carried full water in it, every day.
And, this would go on and on…
The perfect pot was obviously proud of its achievement, its perfection… while the cracked pot felt ashamed, apologetic and guilty.
After almost two years, unable to suffer it any longer, one evening, the cracked pot collected its courage and said to the woman: “Ma’am, for two long years, you have been carrying me on your shoulders, despite my defect… despite knowing that I spilled half of the water along your way… and served you only half good as compared to the other pot who has been always perfect… Why did you tolerate me? Have I not let you down? I feel ashamed and guilty!”
“Come, I will show you why,” said the woman consolingly to the heart-broken pot, “I will tell you why you should not feel ashamed or guilty about your defect.”
Saying so, the woman pointed to the beautiful flowers on the wayside. “Dear, can you believe that these plants bear such beautiful flowers only because of you?”
The pot was left puzzled!
“I knew your flaw, and hence, I planted these flower seeds on your side of the path,” the woman explained gently, “For two years, you have been nurturing them without your knowledge… and, look, how glorious they look!”
The cracked pot was unable to believe it!
“My dear friend, every day, I would take these flowers home and decorate my table,” the woman continued with all her warmth. She asked, “Is it not because you had that crack in you?”
I don’t think, I would have ever remembered this story, today… leave alone trying to express it through my Blog… Yes, had I not been so shy and scared when I was a young boy!
Because I was endowed with my own ‘cracks’…
I have been able to ‘spill this water’,
all these years,
and be of help to some of these wayside flowers…
I did not know that was the reason why I had called my daily writings as ‘The Wayside Flowers’!
Take heart, therefore, all my dear young and old friends! We never know how good we are, despite our cracks… until some wise-soul, comes our way to show us the amazing beauty we have been able to leave behind…
Yes, despite our cracks, I said!
Pics.: Ashok Ahuja