Believing, Trying, Achieving: Trust Yourself Not Doubt

It’s been a very special day. Along with thousands of other students my daughter got her GCSE exam results. The success of trying and of believing in herself has been rewarded by great achievements. It made me think about when we first start to doubt ourselves.

I enjoyed my high school days. Yes, there were ups and downs. After all teenage years are full of changes. As I worked out what it meant to be adult and how to behave there was one things I was always certain of. My teachers believed in me and encouraged me to keep trying. In anything I did they wanted me to be able to believe in myself. It worked. My life long passion for learning and trying came out of those positive voices I heard in that most important phase. I feel my doubts really began when I reached the world of work.

So it was interesting to me to see the reactions of the pupils this morning. There was a general admission that the courses were harder. Alongside a change to the grading system (over the years it’s been letters, numbers, letters and now both) which produced quite a bit of confusion. Amongst the delight was quite a bit of sadness or shock. I know that most students would have been trying their best in their studies. But some had clearly got results below their hopes or expectations. It occurred to me that the doubts caused by the change to a new marking system and a harder curriculum would stay with some students for a very long time. No matter how supportive the staff. Or whatever these pupils went on to do.

I guess it seems strange to me now to notice that we build in doubt. No matter how much trying and effort, some people end up at the bottom of the results table.

At the very time when those young people are trying to become the adults of our future there are tests that end up leaving someone doubting their abilities. Of course these methods of grading people were introduce by a system that requires workers who can be classed as skilled rather than unskilled. And the skills set is directly related to what industry wants. Not what those people can actually do. I listened to the careers officer talking to some of the young people. She was tying to encourage them that there were still ways they could get onto courses they wanted. But I wondered what these teenagers actually heard.

In my work I meet many people who discovered self doubt in school or at exam time. People who have so much to offer our world. I see how they hold back from believing in themselves because these early disappointments have stuck. There has to be a better way of organising our education system. A way that I and everyone else can encourage young people to believe, keep trying and have a sense of achievement. I do my best to present a positive picture of life long learning to my daughter. I’m working on my own self doubt. And I’m also determined to keep trying all sorts of things in life because I’ll never know what I can achieve otherwise.

Trying to rise above the self doubt matters. Please help the children you connect with to recognise that if they try they will find so many wonderful abilities with which to live a happy and full life. And if you doubt yourself take time to try things too.

Day 640 of my blogging challenge 

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