A few months ago, Year 12 student Anna Khan took to the lectern during assembly to speak to Senior School students about self-belief.
While Anna is recognised around the school for her leadership (she’s Robertson House Captain) and performing arts (she just performed as part of the Canberra International Music Festival), her message to fellow-students was about teamwork, resilience and commitment. Anna’s story is a wonderful example of how participating in sport, and being determined to stick with it, can deliver life-affirming moments and skills which can be applied throughout life.
These last few years I have been rowing here at Canberra Girls Grammar School - I started out in the bottom Year 7 boat, then training in the 3rd crew. There was a distinct moment in my rowing life, where my coach, looking at a defeated crew, said:
“I have seen girls become first eight rowers from the third crew, and you can all do it.”
She built us to look forward. I looked to the day I could make the ‘first eight’. I put my eye on the prize that day and never let it slip.
Throughout rowing, the training becomes progressively more and more crazy, up until recently for me it has been 20 hours of training a week. It’s mornings of literal blood, sweat and tears, but mornings I wouldn’t give up for the world. Because I’ve learnt a big lessons that I want to share with you all. Rowing is a gruelling team sport; you’re doing one perfect stroke 250 times. You row for the girls in front of you and you push yourself even more for the girls sitting behind you, knowing around you the other girls are doing the same. Racing is completely committing to a greater cause, the boat crossing the line first.
In the moments after I finished my last race as a schoolgirl at Head of the River in March this year, it clicked…it has always been about believing in what I can do, trusting myself enough to keep going and not giving up. There were certainly times as I cried while vomiting, thinking I could absolutely never do an erg test again only to do it again weeks later, moments as I lost races I had aimed to win, and trained in the morning even though my bed called me.
Why would I put myself through it? Because I had a firm idea that I was meant to be there, I believed that I could face all of that and come out the other end the rower I wanted to be. Now this is quite a rowing way of looking at it, but what I aim to say is; you have to be aware that you hold the power to change the future; you hold the oar to success. Believe that you can do it. It might be now that you’ve just picked up a sport, or a new subject, maybe you’re learning a new instrument. Maybe right now, this second, you aren’t the best, you don’t go as fast, know it all or play the right notes, but there is nothing like self belief.
To believe in yourself doesn’t always need to be pushing yourself to the extreme; it can be just a gentle reminder in the back of your head saying you are worth it. That’s all you need, put that little bit of belief in yourself, feel it build up into a confidence that you can be proud to wear and take that first step forwards.
So as you make your way through 2019 – and beyond - make sure you remember to believe in yourself and try your best, because back in 2014 as a Year 7, I sure didn’t know I would make the first eight, nor did I think I would be here telling you all about, but I believed in myself to try.
That’s all that I can say to you, believe now because the future comes next.
Photo above: Anna (second from front) competing in the Head of the River, 2019