AIM Mentor Shares
Tricia Tan
Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

In 2007, I was in the education sector, very disillusioned with the state of affairs. On the verge of leaving, I had a HTHT (short for heart to heart talk) with my reporting officer (RO).He was puzzled why I wanted to leave, since I have had such good performance appraisals for the past consecutive 3 years, and was being groomed for the leadership track.

I cited stress and personal reasons which had led to me being diagnosed with clinical depression. I had started a family and my baby girl was 8 months old. My work, my own high standards and expectations, as well as the demands of a full-time working mother was overwhelming. Moreover, after having taught for 5 years, I was jaded with the system, by how it conflicted with my ideals of real education.

I remember at one point in the discussion, my RO told me, “You need to know how to play the game.”

Guess what my reply was.

“Alright, then obviously this game is not for me. I want out.”

END GAME. But it was not KO - knocked out. It was entirely voluntary.

There was no formal mentoring system in place then in the school. And I had looked upon this Head of Department as a mentor. He recognised my efforts and contributions, gave me opportunities to lead projects and train other teachers, on top of my normal teaching load. However, all that also meant more responsibilities were placed on me. And that added to my stress. That was how and why I left the teaching service, though my heart and passion still lie with developing youths.

Fast forward 10 years later. I thank him for that advice. Why? Because every time I faced a crossroad in my career, that statement would pop up in my mind, not in the original form but that of a question, “Tricia Tan, do you want to continue playing this game?”

Posing this question to myself has helped me smoothen various major life transitions – from professional to personal, from 3 other career switches to the most life-changing major decision of ending my marriage.

In life, we find ourselves juggling many balls. From basketball to tennis, from bowling to squash. Each game has its own set of rules to play by, to adhere to. And what I’ve learnt and applied in my life is that, if you cannot stand the rules, then try to change it. But if you cannot change the rules, then leave and make your own rules.

Better yet, get out there and design our own game!

Tricia Hwee Tien Tan

Tricia is leading the next learning circle on 7 Nov 2019. Join us:…/the-first-m…/register

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