Identify your strengths

Ask your counsellor
Last Updated 25 September 2013, 15:34 IST

Dear Madam,

I am a student of class X studying in a residential school. I feel that I am turning out to be inferior. In my previous classes, I was bold enough to face the public in competitions or other activities. However, now I hesitate to open up my ideas. I even hesitate to speak out certain correct things in front of my teachers. This has led me to develop an inferiority complex. Nowadays my voice shivers, whenever I speak to the public in certain competitions. Most of my classmates tease me whenever my voice shivers. I feel ashamed. So please help me.


Dear Yashaswini,

I understand that you are feeling you are not good enough and are faced with self-doubt and this is stopping you from expressing your opinion, either in class or on stage. You also think your friends are teasing you because of this. I want you to make an attempt at understanding what your fear is. What in your opinion is the worst thing that could happen if you did express your opinion, or if you did falter while speaking on stage? Once you are able to name your fear you will be able to address it.

Also, you must understand all your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Those friends who laugh at you also have their weaknesses. They are not perfect, and neither are you. Why don’t you let them know how you feel when they laugh at you? Being open about your feelings gives you strength to face situations. For instance, if you are nervous before a speech on stage, and you go up on the podium and in the first line or two mention about how making this speech is a very scary experience for you, you will find that you don’t then need to ‘pretend’ to be ‘brave’. You will understand that it is okay and normal to be scared, and one can overcome it.

But more than anything else, I want you to believe in yourself. Write down a list of all your strengths, and acknowledge them to yourself. Then make a list of your weaknesses, understand that everyone has weaknesses, see which ones you want to overcome and which ones you are comfortable living with. And then go ahead and overcome them. In this process take the help of a trusted adult you can work with. Better still work with a counselor.

All the best

Dear Ma’am,

I am a Class IX CBSE student studying in Kendriya Vidyalaya. Recently I have changed the section and I am facing an inconvenience. I was the topper in my previous classes. After changing the section, I am feeling I can't cope up because of the competition. All the toppers of the other sections are in my section and I feel inferior amongst them. I want to gain my confidence back.

A student

Dear student,

The important thing is not to try to be the topper all the time, but to perform to the best of your ability and to put in your best effort to achieve your potential. Being the topper among a class of mediocre students does not help you achieve your potential in life as much as being amongst a group of bright students who are all striving to achieve their best. This kind of positive peer pressure helps you reduce the gap between your performance and your potential because it forces you to push yourself. Don’t view this as a failure because you are not topping now. Instead, view it as an opportunity that is allowing you to push yourself to succeed. Because ultimately success in life will not come because you topped in your 9th grade, or 10th grade, but because you learnt the important life lesson of pushing yourself and putting in your best effort. Success is not about getting the highest marks in any given group.

Success is about driving yourself to do the best you can. It is about doing better than you did the last time, not necessarily about doing better than everyone else. Use yourself as a benchmark, and let the class drive you to your potential. The moment you shift the benchmark of performance from the rest of the class, to yourself and your previous performance, your focus will change. The marks you get only make a point to others, which is not important. Your effort makes a point to yourself, which is the only thing that matters.

Don’t base your confidence on what others are getting. Don’t view others’ marks as a deterrent - instead view them as a driver and a motivator that will narrow the gap between your performance and your effort.

Hope this helps. All the best

Dear Ma’am,

I am Likitha of class 12. I am an average student (70%) but in 10th I got good marks (90%). I had a wonderful set of friends, but I changed my college even though I didn’t want to, because of my parents’ pressure. In the new college also I made friends but they are not so close like my old friends. And here I don’t know why I have lost interest in studies. Before, at least I used to open my books but now even if I do so, after sometime I feel sleepy, or else I loose interest and close my books. I plan to study each day, but I keep thinking I will do it after some time and the day will be gone. With my own interest I took PCMB. I wanted to become a doctor. I know it is not so easy but seeing my marks I have lost confidence. My mom wanted me to take commerce and now she scolds me saying, “If you can’t, why did you take science?” There are only a few months left for my board exams. I am scared about my future. Please help me.


Dear Likitha,

I notice that you are already speaking in past tense about your desire to become a doctor, as though it is something that is already not possible. I urge you not to give up your dreams so easily. But make sure it is something you want to do, and not something you are pursuing only to prove yourself to your parents (or anyone else). I also notice that you are labelling yourself as ‘average’ and are surprised by your performance in the 10th. Labels are very dangerous and we tend to live up to the labels we give ourselves. If you consider yourself as ‘average’ you will tend to fulfill that label for yourself. So take a few minutes to identify your strengths, and recognize your uniqueness and special abilities and qualities. You may have average capability in some areas but that does not make you ‘average’ as a person.

Each group of friends has a unique chemistry and energy. It cannot be replaced by another group in exactly the same way as no two groups will be alike. The new group will never be exactly like the old, but will have its own energy and positives.

You say you are scared about your future. What is your worst fear? I feel that this fear is overwhelming you and you are losing your motivation to study. Name your fears. When you name them, they are not as scary any more and often you realize that some of them may not even be rational. You need to find your own motivation to study. And this motivation has to come from you, not from your parents pushing you. After all, who will be the biggest beneficiary of your hard work?

All the best

Maullika Sharma is an MBA graduate with a specialistion in counselling.

She works with adolescents and parents. Send in your queries to Ask Your Counsellor,  Education, Deccan Herald, 75, MG Road, Bangalore-560001 or email as at dheducation @deccanherald.co.in

(Published 25 September 2013, 15:34 IST)

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