When the doctor ordered me to stay speechless for three consecutive weeks and not muttering a word, my family thought that I will ask for a sickness leave from work. Why would a teacher go to work if she’s voiceless, they objected. Stubborn, my mother thought I was. During these weeks I went to work daily, not muttering a single word. The administration made substitutions for my classes, and I went on grading the assignments I had earlier from my students, planning new tasks, organising my folders and doing all the pending tasks that were on my to do list.
Sitting in a staff room full of people greeting each other, chatting, discussing, answering calls, and verbally engaging with students in breaks while keeping my mouth shut wasn’t as easy as anyone can imagine. I was in deep emotional pain and I felt partially disabled. Having my mind still working, I insisted to go to work daily to avoid feeling completely useless. To be excused from participating in conversations, I prepared index cards and wrote on them my case and how I’m sorry for not being able to speak. The consequence was clear in my head; if I don’t rest my voice completely I will be operated. I had no choice but to remain mute fearing to risk an operation in my vocal cords.
These tough days taught me something called ‘self-discipline’. People in my circles were wondering how I made it for three weeks without a word neither at work nor at home. It’s true I was voiceless at the beginning, yet after few days it was expected that my cords had rested and I could start speaking. Yet I didn’t even give it a try. I had an end in mind. I wanted my voice back, I didn’t want to be operated. And in these three weeks I understood that self-discipline is like a muscle, it grows by practice. All we need to do is to tie it to an end in mind.
Read the intro to this series of articles at: