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Face Your Fears

For Abbey in Year 11, determination and letting go of fear have helped her to overcome challenges in life. That and watching J.K. Rowling’s powerful graduation speech at Havard University.

Having been at Wenona since I was six, I would classify myself as a pretty experienced Assembly attendee. So, when I was approached to speak today, I thought, I have this one in the bag, right? I’ve listened to countless speeches and followed countless leaders. I should be okay.

But if I am honest, this year’s Prefect’s theme of ‘Own your story’ really daunts me. What is my story? By what parameters can I define myself?

While chatting with some of my friends, I expressed my fear about this theme. What does it mean in relation to me? What is my story? Born in Australia. Lived in Sydney. Been at Wenona since Year 1. Played a lot of soccer. Have two dogs, one sister. The list goes on.

I wasn’t sure if there was enough substance to craft a speech. Upon further thought, I realised that while my story is still being formulated, there is a piece to the puzzle where my story begins. And that piece is determination.

So, with that, I want to make these three minutes count.

Usually, when I look to begin a speech, I call my Non, who gives me advice and helps to keep me on the right track. After losing her earlier this year, I was quite lost at where to begin. Yet I have realised that I can’t let this fear of failure drive me more than my desire for success. And you can’t either.

So, determination. This is a factor that has shaped most of my experiences in my life. To me, to be determined means to have passion and drive. To have self-motivation and an appetite to achieve.
But alongside determination has also been fear. The fear of what others will think of me, the fear to fail or be deemed a failure.

The other day, I was listening to J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Speech. If you haven’t already heard it, I recommend you do so.

She said something that resonated with me, which I’d like to share it with you all today. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you have failed by default.”

To put it simply, letting fear take hold from the start automatically restrains you. Yet I have realised that in my story so far, determination has been competing with fear. Fear has been wrapped so tightly around my story as a means of protection.

When I look back at Abbey in Middle School, I think of someone who was an observer. A girl who was so worried about other’s judging her, so much so, that she lacked confidence. But as J.K. Rowling said, fear of failure is to fail by default. I was immediately letting fear take hold and living cautiously because I was so worried about being judged.

Fear IS going to be a player in your story, but you get to decide whether it is the main character. You can spend the first chapter catastrophising about the ‘worst’ outcome, feeling judged by others, afraid to be vulnerable or worrying about the pathway to the future, but that will still leave you right where you started.

With only three months of the year left, I urge you to start the second chapter of your story. Follow your determination and don’t let fear obstruct the path!

I hope by sharing a piece of my story with you today that you may be able to incorporate determination into yours and not let fear rule.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all at School.

AbbeyW

Abbey (Year 11)