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Encouragement and appreciation are recognized as very important elements in most forms of human interactions. In particular, they are widely applied in many workplaces and are known to be the components of a successful relationship or friendship. Also, they are commonly used in education. The positive effects of encouragement and appreciation are numerous and, in their level of impact, can work for a short, as well as a long period. Most of us have experienced the effects of appreciation in their lives and could describe them as inspiring, calming, or heartwarming.
Overall, appreciation and encouragement tend to produce a very pleasant influence on people and stimulate them to continue moving towards their goals with a changed and more optimistic view of the situation. The latter effect is the most important one when it comes to the use of appreciation and encouragement in education. In this narrative, I would like to share a story about the role appreciation and encouragement played in my personal experience of being a student, and also offer some thoughts on how it changed my perception of learning and self-improvement as parts of an academic environment.
Being a Good Writer
First of all, I would like to mention that being a student writer can be rather challenging due to a wide range of topics and tasks to complete and numerous requirements that a writer needs to match to produce a high-quality paper. Working on my writing skills and attempting to stimulate my growth as a writer, I focused on developing my vision of what a good writer is. To my mind, one of the main and most important skills a good writer should have is flexibility. I feel that critical thinking is the foundation of a writer’s flexibility as it allows the author to approach various themes and issues professionally and keep an open mind for the provision of an objective evaluation of multiple sides and aspects of a problem under discussion.
For me, flexibility is sometimes hard to achieve because of my limited experiences and biases. Fighting them, I often force myself into uncomfortable and unfamiliar topics and kick myself out of the comfort zone of formal and collected approach. Doing so gives me a strange feeling similar to social anxiety when one is terrified of meeting new people and talking to them. After all, my stories are my thoughts. Sharing a unique personal story is like publishing your diary. It makes me shrink on the inside as if I’m letting go of my amour and now can get kicked and hurt by anybody. I guess this fear of criticism is something any writer faces and a logical way of out of this situation would be growing a thicker skin. However, I wonder if someone with a thicker skin could be as sensitive and perceptive to the world around as I want to remain as a writer.
An Encouraging Academic Environment
Moving on to my story, I would like to mention that I believe that one of the greatest first experiences related to writing and sharing stories happened to me in high school. It was during my English course when I got a task to share a personal story that described some kind of fear or an event that I found uncomfortable. The objective was to teach us how to write about emotions and share personal stories. I had several experiences related to fear to choose from. I selected one from my preschool childhood when I had a scary dream that seemed to crawl into reality for a while to continue haunting me. Having brought my finished scary story to school I realized that the task was not to simply turn in the papers but to read them out loud in front of the entire class.
Now that was something much scarier than the dream I wrote about. There I was standing in front of the class with a piece of paper in my trembling hands – a high school teen, practically a grown person, having to tell everyone how I got scared of a bad dream. For a moment I even thought about changing my story into something more respectable on the go. Then I thought of grabbing my stuff and running out of the classroom. As I was cheerfully hopping down the stairs relieved of my literal nightmare, my teacher’s gentle voice calling out my name yanked me out of the imagination land. “We are ready for your scary story”, she said smiling. And I found myself back in my position as the most miserable public speaker.
I gathered myself and decided to just go with it. “The Dwarf behind My Bed”, – I read the title scanning the classroom for occasional giggles. I cleared my throat and coughed about a dozen times and finally started reading. As I was done, I lifted my eyes from the paper preparing for the teasing and mocking. But the room was quiet. Some of my peers were smiling which made me assume they saw my story as ridiculous and were thinking of ways to make fun of me. My teacher expressed appreciation (which she did to every) story and I finally was allowed to sit down. And then my classmates were asked to share their thoughts. I was surprised to hear that my story “could make a cool horror movie”, and that it gave some people chills, and that some even had similar experiences as children. Of course, some classmates found my story funny or dull, but knowing how terrified of the negative reaction I was at the beginning, this did not feel as bad.
In conclusion, I would like to explain that I decided to share this story because this is the memory I go to whenever I feel scared or hesitant about expressing certain personal thoughts and opinions in writing. As a student writer, I often am self-conscious about my work and reluctant about showing it to others. However, to grow as a writer, learn from my own mistakes and triumphs, I have to share my work. After all, writing is a form of art and art is worth nothing when no one can see it. This story always reminds me that no matter how personal or embarrassing what I choose to share may seem, there will still be some people who will relate to my writing and find it interesting. And regardless of the inevitable negative comments, the positive feedback will make the writing worth it. I learned this lesson in high school due to my teacher’s ability to push us out of our comfort zone and, this way, show us how to be real with the audience, be prepared to negative feedback but also be confident that there will be an appreciation that is so much more valuable and encouraging for a learner than all the negativity put together.