"Be a good person. Don't be a bully and treat others well and with care. You don't have to stand out, just be a normal, ordinary person."
As a teenager, I was kind of a troublemaker. I was always messing around and playing pranks on people. I felt like I wasn't particularly good at anything, so school was really hard for me.
In secondary school, KELY came to my school and put on a 10-week social circus programme. The programme was mandatory for all the "bad" kids like me - everyone else got to attend other activities, but a small group of us were chosen to attend the KELY programme instead. At first, I found juggling kind of boring. The trainer tried his hardest to engage us, but most of us just sat around waiting for the session to end.
It wasn't until the seventh or eighth session that things turned around. One of my friends managed to master a trick, so he turned to me and said, "It's not that hard. Surely you can do this, too?" I didn't think my friend was particularly talented, so if he could do it, I could definitely do it, too. I spent the next 10 minutes practicing the trick and then I got the hang of it! Once I figured out that first trick, I asked the trainer to teach me some other tricks. That's how I learned five tricks in that one session alone.
My teachers saw that this was something I was really good at, so they asked me to perform for the school. After the performance, I felt like the audience was really impressed by my skills, so I wanted to develop further in this area. I had observed my trainer in class and I thought that maybe that was something I could do in the future.
Now I am a teaching assistant at a secondary school, where I also coach the school's circus team. We have competed against schools across Hong Kong and we have even travelled to compete in Taiwan! Before taking this job, I lived and breathed the circus life, but this job has expanded my perspective and given me the opportunity to learn new skills. I don't plan to stay in this job forever, and maybe in a few years, I can be a full-time circus trainer.
When you first learn circus tricks, you can pick up things pretty quickly, and your improvement is exponential. At some point, though, you'll hit a bottleneck. You'll come across a trick that you just can't seem to get the hang of and it's easy to give up at that point. It's happened to me many times before. As a trainer, my job is to help my students work through those moments and keep going. It's just a matter of practice and trying things a different way.
A lot of my students like to post videos of themselves performing circus tricks on Instagram. But more often than not, they've spent hours filming themselves, only to get the trick right that one time! After they post the video, they stop practicing. I tell my students that patience is everything. Just because you've done it once doesn't mean you've mastered it.
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