Principal's Blog - 14 June 2018

12 Jun 2018

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

Last week we commemorated the feast day of St. Marcellin Champagnat with our Champagnat day celebrations. What a wonderful day it was. A thoughtful and meaning mass celebrated by our great supporter – Monsignor Tony Ireland, A delicious lunch provided by our parents and staff, Some fun and exciting activities organised by our House leaders and SRC and of course Marcellin’s Got Talent. All this under sunny skies and amidst cooperative, and appreciative young men – what more could we ask for!

Below I have printed my address from this celebration. Happy Feast day!

Do you ever have moments of self-doubt. When you don’t think your good enough. When you don’t think you will have a go at something because you might fail. When you constantly compare yourself to others knowing that you will never quite measure up.

Personally, there have been many times in my life when I have had these feelings. They can come on in simple seemingly unimportant moments. Like when I’m trying to master a new skill. Will I ever be able to solve that Maths problem or catch a wave on my stand-up paddle board, or will I be able to sand that piece of timber to a perfect finish. Or they can more significant. Will I ever be able to master the art of teaching or Principalship. Will I ever be a really good father to my children or supportive husband to my wife.

I know that I am not alone in these feelings of self doubt. Some of the most famous, successful artists and authors in history battled self-doubt and esteem issues before making history. In fact, some held these feelings throughout their entire lives, even after their work had been held up in high regards by the public. However, sometimes it's our doubts, worries and anxieties that push us to achieve great things.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning American author John Steinbeck felt like an imposter for the praise he got for his work. He wrote in a 1938 journal entry: “I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”
One of the most famous artists in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci, faced the human condition we know as self-doubt. He painted some of the greatest works of Art in History like the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper”. But like the rest of us, Da Vinci also experience self-doubt, procrastination and esteem issues. Da Vinci was known for abandoning and never finishing certain projects, and he was also very hard on himself. A line from one of his diaries read: "Tell me if I ever did a thing."

Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh struggled with self-doubt and behavioural issues. But he persevered once saying "If you hear a voice within you saying you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."

St. Marcellin Champagnat lived with great self-doubt throughout his life. He struggled as a learner during his time in the seminary. Marcellin had not had very much schooling and when he entered the Seminary he found the other students were far more advanced than he was. To make matters worse, he was older than the others. Because of this he found the studies very difficult and made very slow progress. At the end of his first year he was asked to go home and think about his future. After talking to his family and praying about his difficulty, he decided to return to the Seminary and make a fresh start. The priests who ran the Seminary were very impressed with his new enthusiasm and dedication to study and made him a leader of the other young trainee priests. Many people had looked upon Champagnat's foundation of the Brothers with great scepticism. These attitudes became worse during the building of the Hermitage – his home for the brothers. He was laughed at and ridiculed by many people. One of these was the local Bishop who told Champagnat that he was a "madman" and that he would not support him.

Even Jesus himself experience self -doubt. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was killed he prayed to his father in heaven to spare him from what was to come.

So how do we overcome these feelings of self-doubt. For me the first thing I do is realise that I’m not alone in my doubt and that it’s natural part of being human to feel this way. It’s good at those moments of doubt to remind yourself about your successes and achievements – give yourself some credit. Don’t dismiss those who are offering encouragement and positive feedback, particularly those closest to you. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. There is a difference between being self-reflective when you’ve mucked up and beating yourself up for the mistakes you have made over and over again. Face your fears. Don’t let fear and self-doubt paralyse you. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never get anywhere. Give yourself a bit of a push, you will be surprised what you can achieve.

Mostly, in dealing with self-doubt I pray a lot. I look to Jesus who tells me not to be afraid, he tells me not to worry about tomorrow, and that nothing is impossible for God. So I keep hoping and I keep trying to be better than I was yesterday and I keep hoping, knowing that self-doubt will always be there but knowing too that with the love of family and the love of God I will get there eventually.

So on this feast of the great man St. Marcellin remember that even the greatest and most successful doubt themselves and know that in those moments that God has a plan for you, a plan for your welfare and not your harm, to give you a future with hope.

Mark Murphy