Teachable Moment Final

Sadman Chowdhury 

Teachable Moment

In recently becoming an adult in the past year, I can confidently say that I am proud of the person I’ve become and the character I display. I’ve made it an oath to myself that I should live life in a way where I never judge anyone at first glance, and never think worse of something just because something is different. Uniqueness in people and things, along with finding something worthwhile in everything, are qualities I’ve learned to adore and live for. However, ‘learned’ is the keyword. Some people are good people at heart as soon as they gain consciousness, while others need to work their way up there through self-reflection and change. I was the latter.

At the birth of the 2020s decade, it’s a recycled tale that this new decade harbored some of the hardest times for people who lived through the pandemic. Although I can share this sentiment with the rest of society, another sentiment that was often found among people who experienced the pandemic was that it was a blessing in disguise in many factors. For me, the ‘blessing’ I received from the pandemic was a long-overdue change to the way of thinking I had at the time. Before this significant self-reflection, I took pride in my personality being very blunt. I would tell myself at the time that the way to live was always to tell the truth no matter how harsh it was. In theory, this personal philosophy isn’t all that terrible on the surface, but that’s only what I would tell myself, and not what I would stand by. In reality, I would take my personal opinions and force my thoughts as facts in my mind. This led to me acting in a manner that would sometimes harm others and portray myself in a terrible way that I look back on and denounce for the way I was acting.

Throughout the pandemic I had a friend group I would talk to every day online whether it was through our group chat or group calls. It consisted of a variety of people who knew each other in middle school and got closer at the beginning of our freshman years even though none of us went into high school together. However, the problem with limited contact during the pandemic is that emotional understanding is limited to the confines of our devices. This leaves a barrier of judgment that would be gone if you could talk to someone in person. Even though we would talk constantly with one another online as if we were narrating our lives to each other, it took me a while to understand how my closest friends’ perceptions of me were shifting. I would do things like making jokes that, in my head, I would think these jokes were funny, but in reality, they would be annoying and harmful at times to my friends. Jokes like making fun of the way my friends looked and comparing them to animals were something that, at the time, would have been funny to me but now condemn. Another thing I would do was constantly undermining and making fun of my friends whenever they would do something that was noteworthy, such as getting a good grade. My friends would call me a ‘hater’ because I was rather critical of whatever the subject of conversation was, and whenever someone wrote this in the chat, it would get laughs from everyone else. To me, I thought it was just some banter and jokes between friends. But I would eventually realize that it had become just an accurate description of the person I was at the time devoid of any irony in the name-calling that I thought was happening. 

As time passed, I would notice the shift in attitude my friends would take when talking to or about me. It would vary from the feeling of being scorned during conversations and being left out of the very few hangouts that could’ve occurred during a pandemic. I had become a friend that one wouldn’t want, and I was slowly feeling the repercussions of it. At first, I tried to justify my actions and try to victimize myself. I would always tell myself that I was just ending up as the ‘butt of the joke’. But, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was looking for excuses to justify the way I was acting when the actual course of action would be to look within myself for change.

It took some months leading up to the beginning of my Sophomore year to finally begin to change. It took a while to get there, but eventually, I learned that I wasn’t a victim of anyone else’s wrongdoings but myself. I made it a mission to develop myself into a more likable person. I began to loathe myself in the mornings. I became conscious of what I was saying and realized that from another perspective, I looked like a terrible person. My odd, but albeit simple, method of choice to force myself into changing for the better was a routine in which I would wake up in tell myself in the morning “I need to stop”. Call it personal affirmations, manifestation, or whatever you like, but simply telling myself I would become a better person did work. It led me to become aware of how I was acting and realizing that action was needed. After a couple of months, I began to notice changes in myself for the better. As someone who used to be sensitive to emotion in the prior, I had become much more serene. I used to suffer from minor anger issues on getting upset about insignificant things, but now I rarely find myself getting frustrated at minor things. It was as if my whole outlook on life had changed. If something didn’t directly affect or harm me, which was most things, I would never waste my energy on it. Such as getting angry because someone in front of you walks too slow, or bumps into you because they’re in a rush. Why should I be mad at them when I’m sure they have their reasons for acting like that?

The benefits of my self-reflection would quickly begin to shape. I had become significantly closer with my friends. We would hang out much more often even before all pandemic restrictions had been lifted, and the overall feelings and attitudes I would feel from them had healed and gotten uplifting. I distinctly remember a conversation with a friend about a year after I had ‘changed’. He said to me “You know that one time me and Leroy hung out during Covid and got food without anyone else? It’s kinda crazy that I remember shit-talking you because you were so annoying”. In this situation, someone would typically be mad at their friends for talking behind their back, but for me, it was different. I knew what I had done at the time was worthy of criticism and knew that it was something that we just had to put behind us. We laughed about it while going further to say how much nicer things are now. This further confirmed my resolve in that I had made a necessary change. It created a great lesson in me, not just for self-improvement but in other areas like problem-solving, everything starts with yourself and you can only get better when you look within yourself.