When was the last time you felt truly special?
How often do you feel special?
Before you read further, take a pause, and answer these questions for yourself. And hold onto your answers please.
As a child I felt truly special on my birthdays. That day I used to feel like a Queen. Over the range of a single day, I would change into new dresses, get royally served with my favorite dishes, receive many surprise gifts, and go to bed happy and tired. As I grew up, things started changing. All my friends were staying in different cities, and so were my own siblings. I went away from my parents when I started working in Delhi. And slowly, I started to forget about this feeling of being someone special.
A few years into my professional career, I joined Teach For India and was placed as a class-teacher in a government school. Suddenly the feeling of being special returned. And guess what, it was not my birthday. On the contrary, I felt special during regular days at school. I would enter my class in the morning, dressed up in a suit and bindi and a beautiful pair of dangles and bangles, and my kids would scream as if some queen has arrived in their classroom. Let me also tell you that I was a no lovy-dovy teacher. In fact, I used to turn into a complete monster at the end of the day. The incessant clamoring from the field and the bustling classrooms could even make a saint go crazy, I bet.
My students loved me self-lessly, and I can say this with pride that I did the same. No amount of wrath at the end of the day could stop them from loving me with even increased intensity the next morning. Such is the power of true love!
This is my birthday month. I have been thinking what should I do to feel special. I am certain that no gifts can make me feel special anymore. Maybe a call from an old friend? Or a man on his knees with a rose?
I am personally shattered with the incredible amount of pain people are going through. While we were deep into the corona crisis, the amphan cyclone hit us badly, and then the tragic plane crash in Pakistan took place. And there are several hundreds of heart-wrenching stories from different corners of the world that do not even get reported. In my honest opinion, I don't need to do anything to feel special. I am indeed special as I am lying down in the comforts of my sheets and typing on my laptop right now. But something is missing and that's why even after all these comforts I still am not feeling special.
I have been ruminating, and have come to understand one simple theory. I am expecting others to do something to make me feel special. I forgot what I learned during my TFI fellowship -
If you want to feel special, you gotta give yourself into making others' lives special.
I felt special during my two years with students because I was not trying to gain something from that experience. I was only thinking about giving and making their days special.
Now if you are having a hard time recalling when was the last time you felt special, or if you don't feel special very often, you probably need to change the lenses and take some actions. You can take the control of how often you feel special if and only if you are the driver of this feeling. Don't wait around. The earth needs people to generously come out to extend their support. Find a cause that you can support either by money, or time, or something else. You must find out what is your secret power. Give, give, give!!!!!!
You have no idea how special you are if you can offer someone in need a helping hand.
Good luck feeling special!
Swati is the General Manager of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Hyderaad, where she builds powerful partnerships with non-profit organisations to tackle India's most pressing social challenges. SVP is the world's largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,200+ investor-donors across more than 40 cities worldwide. Swati is a Teach For India Fellow - she has taught 100 girls for two years in a slum community in New Delhi. She has previously worked with Hedge Funds for four years as a consultant in New Delhi and New York. Swati holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology.