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When I was at school, I wasn't keen on most subjects whether it was chemistry or music. I wouldn't say I was an eager student who wished to get the finest grades and please my teachers. Even sitting in on a lecture that I possessed zero interest in was a drag, not to mention getting pleasure from equations, chemical tests and whatnot. But, as it turned out, I was terrible at everything but literature and had a strong preference for reading and writing. Composing essays or citing poems by heart were things that inspired me and made me highly effective. When I wrote, I felt on cloud nine, thoroughly enjoying crafting essays and discussing books.
My teacher of literature and writing, Danuta Edvardovna, was an enthusiastic, middle-aged woman who knew her stuff and tried to do her best at encouraging her students' love of literature and words. At the beginning, we didn't see eye to eye. Most of the time I kept myself to myself in class, not doing homework and not lifting a finger in the classroom at all. In fact, it had nothing to do with her. Just like many teenagers, at that point in my life I felt a deep aversion toward the very idea of deliberate studying or any other kind of work. Back then, I didn't perceive this attitude as a kind of rebellion, deeply absorbed by my inner world, but that was exactly what it was. Still, Danuta didn't bat an eyelid, letting me do nothing for months. I think she felt that I would stand by what I chose on principle, so there was no point in trying to convince me to study.
At a certain point, things took a turn. Once I was sitting in class, listening to other students' answers and as always, doing nothing at all. However, I suddenly heard Danuta asking a student about a book that I'd just finished the night before. It was a novel by Michail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, and the student had no clue what Danuta was talking about. Apparently, he hadn't read the book. But I had read it. And I knew the answer.
Ignoring the stubborn resistance I felt in my body, I worked up all my courage and raised the hand. Danuta hesitated only for a second, then looked at me with a barely noticeable smile and let me answer. I did it in a heartbeat, describing all the plot points, the main characters, and their motives. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the front row and writing essays about my favorite books and writers. I ignored the standard curriculum altogether and instead wrote about every conceivable thing I deeply cared about.
Danuta didn't force me to write about what she thought would be the right choice. Instead, she gave me the freedom to explore topics and things that I regarded as interesting. Yet, she thoroughly revised my writing and gave me useful corrections and recommendations on style. I wrote about books that I came across in the library, people that I met on the streets and poems that struck a chord within me. Even though at first I didn't like writing, it turned out that when I sat at the deck and started scribbling words on the paper, I immediately became absorbed in the very process, and, to my surprise, even had something to say. Sometimes I miserably failed at explaining what I wanted, other times writing flowed like clockwork. At these moments, words were pouring on a sheet, letting me enjoy the process to no end.
On the whole, writing on a level that she required me to write was a tall order. At times, I felt like a fish out of water, rewriting and crossing everything over again. Still, even though Danuta was a pain in the neck, because of her I got used to the discomfort of the writing process. Day after day, I broke the mold and went back to square one every time I wasn't satisfied with the result. Because of that, I grew from strength to strength in my writing and honed my skills every day.
Danuta turned out to be more than just a teacher who wanted to see work done. She was a person who was eager to see how her students study in their own, unique way and finally find their feet in the world. She encouraged me to ask questions about myself and my place in the world. She taught me to connect with my topics on a deeper level instead of following traditional ways of writing. Even though I was the only person to whom she gave such freedom in the entire class, I never asked her about her decision, as well as I didn't discuss it with other students.
This kind of freedom gave rise to all sorts of questions in my mind. It increased my curiosity about the world and, on top of that, developed a burning desire to write within me. Since then, my passion for writing has followed me throughout the years, sustaining me in hard times and being for me a lasting beacon in the chaos of the world. It helped me to write my first diaries and articles. All in all, it encouraged me to share my writing with others.
I believe this kind of interest and enjoyment wouldn't be possible without Danuta, who helped me reveal my interests and instilled a love of writing. Attentively revising my essays, she helped me to believe that my efforts would never be in vain. Letting me have the freedom to write about anything and everything, she made me eager to take action and write in the first place. Eventually, she taught me to reflect on my choices and helped me realize that I have the most responsibility for the development of my interests and that my own actions are crucial to sustain my passion over the long-term.