Having three daughters as I do, and having lived in a boarding school, I am not unfamiliar with the songs of Taylor Swift and have lost count of the numerous car journeys where all the women in the back have repeatedly filled the playlist with her songs. One of my favourites is a song called ‘Fearless’ and it’s become even more special because of what Taylor Swift said about it:
“To me, ‘fearless’ is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.”
If you look on our website you too will see the word ‘fearless’ but this doesn’t mean that we don’t experience fear, worries or anxiety. On the contrary, OHS is a school where we model having fear or worries and still stepping up. I remember talking to some Sixth Formers about public speaking and their fears around it and one of them asking me how I came over so confidently. You may notice if you have watched one of my assemblies that I inevitably speak before a lectern and there’s a good reason for that as once I start speaking my knees inevitably begin to shake and these tremors tend to move up to my hands which means that the piece of paper that I hold, if I have to, starts to tremble. However, I realised a while ago that it is so important for us as adults to share our own doubts with our young people and then do it anyway. We may hide it better but the adrenalin rush before an event, the shiver of fear before getting up on stage or the knot of anxiety before an exam, is something to face with tenacity because it means you are moving out of your comfort zone and stretching yourself. And here, in this newsletter, are so many different examples of students who have stepped forward. Some, no doubt, have been given an encouraging nudge, but the vast majority have taken it upon themselves by their own initiative to grasp their moment. Whether it is a Science competition or a Philosophical essay challenge, publishing an academic paper or building an artefact, writing a poem or stepping forward for a Physics Olympiad, cutting your hair to raise money for charity or running 125 miles, these students take hold of the chances they are offered.
And I’m sure at the start line, the touch of the scissors, or the scratch of the pen, they feel that tremor of fear but they go ahead and do it anyway. I am so proud of that courage and the constant and burning desire to try something else, something new, something different. Fearful, they are fearless and gloriously OHS.