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Embracing Uniqueness

Careers Captain Liv creatively uses the humble cauliflower as a metaphor to inspire her peers towards unwavering self-assurance.

Each week, our student leaders share their insights with their peers in Assembly.

Let me jog your memory back to around this time last year when a girl got up onto the Assembly stage with a cob of corn and compared it to Wenona. Well surprise - that was me! But don’t worry, I’m not going to talk to you about corn today, because corn doesn’t have anything to do with the Prefects’ 2023 theme “Hands In”, does it? … but wait … cauliflower does!

Think about this. Cauliflower is such a stand-alone vegetable. It doesn’t need meat, other vegetables, sauce or really any seasoning to make it amazing. It is good enough on its own. It stands for what it is and doesn’t need to change anything about itself to be loved by vegetarians and even meat eaters around the world.

Maybe you are all cauliflowers.

I started to think about this after one of my typical late-night millennial scrolls, when I came across an interview with actor Zoe Saldana. What really stuck with me was her line, “That’s my biggest achievement in life. I know who I am. I love who I am. I like what I do, and I like how I do it. I like my mistakes and I like the way I learn, and I like the pace with which I learn my mistakes. I don’t want to be anybody else but me.”

Although this isn’t about cauliflower, I think what she is saying is quite remarkable. I’m sure right now many of us can’t imagine loving who we are when we mess up or make a mistake. I often find it difficult to accept myself for who I am, including in this moment as I stand in front of you with a head of cauliflower. Truly loving who you are can be hard but once we do, we will have achieved something amazing.

What if you really are enough? Have you ever thought that just maybe who you are right now in this moment is all you need to be? The idea of “Hands In” is an interesting one. It is easy to think, what’s the point of my hand anyway? What can I offer those cauliflowers around me? But your hand matters, exactly the way it is right now. The only reason a cauliflower can remain so whole, strong, and beautiful is that all the florets within it are working together to hold each other up.

It can be easy to pull ourselves apart when surrounded by friends who might be achieving more in terms of academics or sport. When we don’t meet the standards we hold for ourselves, it is easy to feel we have failed. Too often, we fall into the trap of being overcritical of our abilities, our personalities, and ultimately ourselves. This is when I think we need to grab the florets around us and remind them that they, along with ourselves, are more than enough.

Ultimately, when we look back at this time in our lives, it will not matter if we were popular, held a leadership position, or got that perfect ATAR. What will stick with us are the relationships we have built and the people we have become.

You are stuck with yourself forever, so don’t waste time being hard on who you are. Put your “Hand In” to the cauliflower, because everyone is proud of you for simply trying. Accepting yourself, flaws, mistakes and all, is something really hard to do. And remember your hand is valued, as well as the rest of you – you amazing little cauliflower!