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How Do You Feel About Yourself?

I recently read a blog by Amanda Gore who is an international keynote speaker, author and Director of The Joy Project. In this blog she raised the question “Is there one thing that underpins everything in your life… yes, everything!”

As possible answers she suggested money, health, family or position/status in life. By way of explanation Amanda suggests that these are not the answers:
• Money? -despite what many people would think! As long as you have enough so you can eat and have shelter and can pay for essentials, money is not a factor in joy.
• Health? To some degree yes — but this other thing impacts your health dramatically.
• Family? No. They help but don’t affect everything.
• Position or status in life? No — that is just a label anyway.

Rather, she would suggest that the one thing that underpins all areas in our life is…how you feel about yourself. This is a simple answer to such an important question and the importance of it lies in its simplicity. Many young people today are seemingly lost and open to being easily led. Peer pressure is a common phrase we use in talking about making decisions. Peer pressure is often the thing that fills the void when you don’t feel good about yourself and you rely on others to determine how you should feel about yourself – often with good outcomes but more frequently with poor or disastrous outcomes.

You may wonder what the point of raising this is and the easy thing to conclude is that I may suggest how we can help our young to deal with this. The point I would like to make is that the best way we can support our children is not about telling or asking them anything but rather asking ourselves the very question we feel we should be asking them. As adults and importantly parents who we are and how we behave have the greatest influence on how our children develop. The suggestion that Amanda would make in her blog is that most parents don’t know how they feel themselves because they have not stopped to notice this for perhaps years. Jon Juradini, a Professor of Psychiatry at University of Adelaide, says, “Life is not just about feeling good. Life is about being good at feeling.” For many parents the busyness of life has meant that they have been numb for so long we don’t even know we are numb!

Not only do we not know how we feel, but we have never really consciously thought about how we feel about ourselves. Our feelings are often like a program running in the background of our lives controlling our thoughts, actions and lives. We will often use words like “insecure,” “poor self-esteem” and “lacking in confidence” to describe what we see in other people — people who don’t feel good about themselves. There is a saying that great parents say and do things and model behaviour that helps children feel they are worth loving, safe and secure. In the end what we do is infinitely more powerful than what we will ever say to our children.

While reading this blog, I know the thought crossed my mind – how do I feel about myself? It is a question I can’t remember asking myself very often. And I must confess, a question that was not easy to answer readily. What we do with those answers is the subject of another ATConnect blog perhaps. But I would like to leave you with this: the thought that the hopes we have for our children often lie within ourselves and the fact that we don’t often prioritise our needs is not necessarily a good thing (contrary to what many may think!). A healthy awareness of who we are, is the key to our children developing a healthy self-perception. A starting point may be the question – how do you feel about yourself?

Choral Concert
On Wednesday night I was delighted to attend our end of year Choral Concert in the College Chapel. As a culmination to a lot our hard work, it was great to listen to our various choirs confidently perform. It brings me great pleasure and pride to not only listen to the choirs but more importantly to see the smiles on the faces of the boys performing and importantly the enjoyment that these performances brought to them. In an all-boys school musical opportunity is a key ingredient to a well-rounded education. Music and in particular performances are a great learning opportunity. In a comparative way, music performances are a bit like an examination after studying a subject in class. Performances give us feedback on how we are developing, they allow us to test and challenges ourselves and importantly to step out of our comfort zones. In the analogy of an examination, the one thing that differs greatly is that in an academic examination you can generally complete the challenge in virtual anonymity, whereas in a musical performance you leave yourself open with nowhere to hide. This takes courage and courage is always worth developing. I will always applaud the courage I see in our various choral performances; maybe because it is that side of me I wish I had more courage in.

Andrew Coogan accompanied by Quentijn Whitfield on guitar.

On another level it was great to see a number of our students take an even more daring step forward by electing to sing a solo. I would like to congratulate Oliver Bradshaw, Fin Derry and Andrew Coogan (who was accompanied on guitar by Quentijn Whitfield ) on their solo performances. Not only were they great individual, high class performances but importantly for me, they stepped up as strong role models to all the students listening on the night. I would hope that their performances will be a strong example to other students of what is possible rather than impossible. We often talk about the capacity of students to show leadership, and I would like to congratulate Oliver, Fin, Andrew and Quentijn on the example and leadership that they showed in their performances.

Finlay Derry going solo at the Choral Concert.

We are very fortunate at ATC in the quality of staff that we enjoy and in music we are very blessed to have staff who are both talented and passionate. I would like to congratulate Jason Goopy, Kate Thompson, Mark Jozonovic, and Mary McGuinness on their leadership within our choral program. Once again it is not just the quality of the program that I am grateful for, but more importantly it is the passion that they share with the students and the obvious love of music that they generate in the students.

Well done
We are often very aware of times when poor behaviour colours our view of the youth of today. I have often said that I am a person that lives life with his glass half full rather than half empty. Whilst we will see instances of poor behaviour in our boys, the reality for me is that it is the minority of students in a minority of the time that cause me disappointment. The other reality for me is that the majority of our students are great ambassadors and role models, the majority of the time. One quirk of human existence is that we are often quick to criticise and slow to congratulate; it is sad that this ratio will very rarely be reversed. It was nice to receive an unsolicited email this week at the College. In part it read “I work at a local cinema and we get quite a few of your students in after school especially on Fridays. I wanted to give some positive feedback to say your students are always extremely polite and very respectful of other patrons. It’s such a pleasure having them come in and makes a wonderful change from some of the other school groups we normally get. Keep up the good work!” For me, this was not a surprise but nevertheless nice to receive such a message.

With best wishes,
Michael Senior