As excited as I was to help again this year, I left yesterday's session disturbed. When one of the young ladies who spoke last year walked in to the room, I inquired as to why she decided not to speak this year. She shrugged her shoulders. Then I told her that the first place prize this year went up to $250. Her reply was, "I'm not going to win anyway because S always win." Now S (abbreviated for the young man's real name) has won the contest the last two years, and he is talented but the reason why he was winning, I believe, was due more to win by default. The other students were conceding the victory.
Then, I mentioned that the reason that he is winning is because they are letting him win. He is not practicing or taking it seriously, but is still expecting to walk away with easy money. I reminded her of the word that she chose to speak on last year- BELIEVE - and that she had to believe in herself. And she just smiled and walked away. I then realized that I couldn't spend my time convincing someone to believe in themselves when there were other students to attend to who wanted to compete.
But even in her absence it still bothered me. I was not bothered by her alone, but by the aggregate of children who are walking around this earth everyday not believing in themselves. How can we believe in a better future if our children are not believing in themselves? I've visited many schools and talked to lots of organizations, and each time I discover this same mindset, and I wonder where is it coming from. Is it coming from home? Is it coming from the schools? I it coming from their surroundings or is it just something that is inwardly in them?
Self-confidence is a tricky thing in anyone's life, especially, when you are pitted against someone that may appear to have more talent. Honestly, when I was a child I had my doubts and sometimes I recognized that a loss or failure was inevitable; but I still tried. When the odds were stacked against me, I want to prove the odds wrong. Even when my support system seemed shaky, I would pick myself up. But I do admit that it wasn't easy. It was difficult to keep pushing instead of giving up, and I only hope to see our children continuing to push when things seem bleak.
So, here is the call to action!!!!
- Continue to encourage our children and instill in them that they are great beyond measure regardless if they may have failed
- Teach our children not to concede victory when in the midst of defeat
- Remind our children that we support them throughout their journeys, and continue to be involved and active in their lives
- Remind them that pain is only temporary
- STOP comparing them to other people and more importantly STOP putting them down
- Be an example for them to look to