I still remember vividly when I was doing my grade six and it was that time of the year where we got to vote for class prefects. The class teacher would single-handedly choose potential class prefects and write their names on the chalkboard and the whole class (except for the chosen ones ofcourse) would then cast votes based on that name list.
On that particular year, four potential students were carefully picked by our class teacher and as she was writing the names on the chalkboard (as per norm) to my surprise there was my name on the list! Say what!🙆
As she finished writing my name on that tiny, dusty chalkboard, I immediately felt a strong grip on my chest and my heart suddenly started pounding so fast with intense fear, my whole body started shivering as if heavy rains had poured down on me and I was starting to come down with something (a cold perhaps).
I watched in disbelief as she shouted at the top of her voice “Now class these are the names that we will be voting against this year. If I call out a name on this list and you feel you want that particular name to represent the class then you are going to have to vote for that name by raising your hand, please note that you can only vote for one person.”
Out of the four chosen names, only two people were to be chosen to be class prefects and there was my name on the top two! Just like that I was chosen to be a class prefect!
My heart skipped a bit, I had mixed emotions because throughout my entire primary education level I had never had such a huge responsibility bestowed on me. I had always thought such leadership positions only belonged to a chosen few, those with natural inborn leadership traits and that the rest of us were just positioned on this earth to follow the real leaders.
However, I knew at that particular moment that now I had to start behaving and talking differently as I had seen from some of my friends who had previously held these leadership positions. Somehow, I didn’t want to change, I didn’t want to be like them, I feared losing my friends, I feared criticism and judgement from them. I just wasn’t ready to deal with all that. I mean we had come a long way! On the contrary, I really wanted to have a new experience, to feel how it’s like to hold a leadership position. I wanted to grab this opportunity with both hands!
Deep within me was an ongoing internal battle between self-doubt and this sudden creeping feeling of self-belief. I had no faith in myself, that I can really do this. I strongly doubted my inner capabilities of handling such a huge responsibility. Self-doubt was having a strong grip on me.
On the other end, I was feeling in a different way, strong feelings of self-belief were starting to quickly develop within me. I felt I can do this!
As I went to the front of the class to receive my congratulatory messages from everyone as was the norm, I started questioning myself, like what exactly did my class teacher see in me that made her to put my name on that potential students list. I mean I knew I was one of the most actively participating students in class but that alone wasn’t enough to convince me. I also knew she naturally liked me but still I was less convinced by that so because I needed some answers I then gathered some courage to go up to her after school time to get some answers to my disturbing questions.
I went up to her and said “Good afternoon Mrs Ndlovu, may I kindly know what made you put up my name on that potential student list?” she replied with just a few words and said “Because you can!”
From that very moment, I began to see myself differently knowing that someone out there has faith in me.
Have you ever had such moments where you feel like you can’t do certain things, where you don’t believe you will ever achieve your set goals, where you have this big project and feel like you are not the right person for it, you have this big presentation and you feel like you won’t nail this one.
How do you deal with self-doubt?