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Brick wall
Stav Papadopoulos : Maria said, ‘Knock the wall down!’

Maria said, ‘Knock the wall down!’

The wall keeping me from being me. I had a new beginning to make.

By Stav Papadopoulos

It wasn’t the wall that literally divided her house from mine she was talking about, but the wall keeping me from being me. It was time for my debut. Maria said it was time. The time had come for me to break through. I had stories to tell, ideas to share, experience to hand down, people to talk to, a new beginning to make.

The wall had been standing there for quite some time. It had served its purpose well as a hiding place. I had built it to insulate myself from hurtful comments such as “You are too sensitive,” “Oh, you must be exaggerating,” “Stop thinking so much.” It was also the perfect place to resort to when after a long day’s work or when a problem begged for an answer I needed some comfort. I would indulge in creative pleasures all I could. What I created — art, stories, fun items — I would keep to myself or tucked away in boxes thinking they cannot be taken seriously and no one would ever be interested in them.

No distractions, no comparisons, no criticism, no comments, no worries!

Behind the wall I would be hard at work thinking up new ways of solving problems and communicating ideas, planning new projects, designing material, writing down all my ideas, my experiences, my observations, my proposals, the scenarios in my head. I looked upon all of this as a sort of hobby; the sweet activity was after all a refuge from the bitter pill I would sometimes have to swallow in daily life. I would get behind the wall and see to it that it was further fortified lest anyone should come and destroy the peace and quiet I enjoyed.

I was perfectly content with putting all my creative energy in my teaching. Students certainly appreciated it and the rewards were abundant. But I felt an obligation I could not easily explain. I felt I could not keep all of this to myself and I was ready to reach out and tell my friends, my colleagues, my students, everyone. With the constant creative activities and interests I was discovering and exploring, there was so much I had come to know and it was changing my life. I accepted an invitation to a creative pursuit from a most gifted mentor — she took a chance on me and sent my writing in and when I saw it published, I was overwhelmed. Then I plucked up all my courage and set up a teachers’ workshop and when they came back to me for more, I knew I had done something right.

The wall could no longer contain me

Knowing how far I had come as a teacher and most importantly as a person was empowering. Here I was having the time of my life — opportunities opened up to join creative pursuits I had not dared try, requests to share knowledge and offer help soon followed. My life was turning around, my classroom was transforming, and my confidence was growing. The wall was now stifling me and I had to get past it.

“Do you remember how self-conscious you used to be?”

“As you discovered on your own, you may be overly analytical but you are highly capable of ‘building and rebuilding’ anything and yes, you are highly sensitive but with a deep appreciation for the finer things, sure you are endowed with a tendency to see all things out of proportion but it’s only because of your fun loving and creative nature. You are now a believer in yourself. You are ready.” said Maria, my next door neighbor, my friend, my mentor. •

Next: Part 2: My Creative Mentor »

Updated 1/9/14