A Question of Motivation
To the Maritzburg College Sixth Form 2020
To say that the Sixth Form year at Maritzburg College is a special year, is an understatement. Long-awaited, it carries with it privilege, pride and indeed honour. So many small boys who have sobbed in my office in their junior years, homesick every Monday morning after a weekend with their family; drowning in homework, projects and tests; or feeling bullied by their peers, have nevertheless clung to their dream of reaching Sixth Form bliss one day.
But, being a sixth former right now, you may be excused for questioning whether this is what you signed up for! In no way does it resemble the sixth form year you had planned for yourself – and, I can assure you, nor does it resemble the sixth form year your parents, your teachers, or your school as a whole had planned for you either. With still a month to go before school is to resume in any semblance of normalcy (and the jury is out on just what that means), challenging times are upon you. But history shows us that it is in times of adversity that humans show their mettle – their spirit and resilience and so it is that I’d like to suggest the following practical steps to assist you in doing just that.
- Accept the situation as is
Face facts – the situation is not as you want it to be. Once you accept that, you can move forward, putting your energy into making the best of the situation. Your energy is your currency so do not waste it. Allow positive energy exchanges only – no giving away valuable energy to decrying the ways things have changed; the ‘if-only’s’; the ‘not-fair’s’….
- Establish what matters most to you and focus on that
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here! Decide what outcomes you want, given the resources you have. Be realistic as you check your progress against your goals and desires (which I’m assuming you have already set!)
- Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone
Given the current necessary online learning culture, you have been readjusting from the face to face methods of teaching. Try and foster a spirit of adventure; rise up to the challenge. You will go down in history as being one of the 2020 matrics who lived through a final school year like never before. Carve out a glorious path for yourself instead of finding every excuse in the book to be discouraged.
- Tap into your own power
Remember that you can only be that which you give yourself the power to be! This is your chance to think outside the box and ‘try on’ being flexible and adaptable, even if it isn’t your natural state. Often a natural response to uncertainty is doubt and fear. These are very convincing emotions. It is a fact that you become what you expect of yourself. So expect the best and that is what you will produce.
- Set positive intentions
While the now as well as the future seems so uncertain, perhaps even unstructured and things seem to change from day to day, allow that to infuse you with hope. While anything seems possible, that is true in positive terms too. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, you can write your own story; your own book.
- Carpe Diem
Seize the day…. don’t waste another second! Make decisions that you need to make. Start work you have avoided. Make ’To Do’ lists (and then do them). Look forward and not over your shoulder. Contact the relevant people to help you if you are stuck. See your life through the lens of hope. Remember without darkness, light would mean nothing.
- Reach out
Above all, you are not alone. Find a study buddy, preferably one who is at a similar academic level. Working alongside another, pressures you to commit to set work deadlines. It’s an opportunity to connect to a ‘like mind’. One of the curative factors of any group work is the knowledge that others feel the way you do. Be generous with your time and skills. If you can tutor another, you are layering your own knowledge, and also finding out what you, yourself, may not know. Be aware of the happy truth that what you give out, you stand to receive.
Decide today if you are going to follow the dance, although the music may be disliked or even, at times, unknown. If you concentrate on keeping to the beat, it’s easy but, fall out of step – and pretty soon, there is chaos.
[A call to Sixth Form: if you are struggling and feel you need psychological support, please email me on email@example.com]
Mrs Renee Wulfsohn
School Counsellor, Maritzburg College