“As is our confidence, so is our capacity.” ~ William Hazlitt in Characteristics
One of the biggest problems I see in students is lack of confidence. So many talented, bright, hard working students think they aren’t good enough. And because of this, they do fail.
Their hearts fail them at the last minute, and they panic. Then an exam is failed. A paper goes off into nonsense.
Often when I asked what happened, the students will tell me they panicked and “blanked”. But as I listen to them, I realize the reason for the panic–they don’t think they are good enough. They also don’t think they are worth the success. No confidence.
I have no easy answers for this one. I don’t know how to help people build their confidence. For myself, I usually look at the fact that I’ve done something similar before, and that makes it easier to do it this time.
I’m also a cantankerous git, and every time someone told me I wasn’t capable of doing something, I worked harder out of sheer spite. My high school guidance counselor told me I wouldn’t get into my first choice college. Did it. Early admissions, too. MA advisor told me I wouldn’t get accepted to my first two choices for a PhD program. Got accepted to both. In fact, I only applied to the two. It was what I wanted or nothing. Doctor told me I couldn’t have a child. Ask my son what he thinks about that statement (okay, even I call that one a miracle, but I do think sheer stubborn will never let me accept the diagnosis).
When I told my college professor that I thought, maybe, some day I’d like to teach at a college, he literally laughed in my face and said, “You?” Six years later I stepped into a classroom. Twenty-five years on, I’m an award winning teacher.
These people in my life weren’t being mean or cruel. They were giving their honest opinion. (Maybe that last example bordered on mean.)
So I worked hard, and I prayed. That’s the secret to my confidence back then. Now, I know I know what I’m doing. I’ve found age a wonderful thing on many levels. That’s one thing my students lack. of course, but if they don’t start having confidence now, they will never be able to gain the experience to enjoy it in old age.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your hard work. Believe in your determination.