Mistakes I’ve Made #8

21 June 2011 — Leave a comment

Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to my youth work I’ve made some clangers! Hopefully by reproducing them here, it may give you a bit of a laugh and help you to avoid doing the same thing.

Photo: 'EXECUTED BY MISTAKE' by the_moog on Flickr

Mistake #8: Not believing in myself

This may seem a strange topic to follow on from Mistake #7 about thinking I know best, but the truth is I can be quite contradictory – at least internally. On some things I know my own mind and am absolutely convinced I am doing the correct thing, yet at the same time I can be doubting and second guessing other choices and decisions constantly! Self doubt can be a crippling problem that stops us being effective in our job, relationships and general life.

An important example of this for me was when I went for my first ever youth work job interview (and my second ever interview). I was 19 and confident that I wanted to work with young people despite not really knowing what that entailed. When I was taken into the interview room, I suddenly felt very self-conscious and couldn’t bring myself to look at the three people interviewing me! They asked me a bunch of questions which I must have answered well, but I simply didn’t believe I should be there. Why had I even gone for that job? What was I thinking? These people would never hire me! In that situation, nearly everything positive faded away and left me feeling pretty useless.

Amazingly though, I was offered the job! I later found out it was because of my local knowledge (as I wrote about here), but my manager spent the next few years publicly encouraging me at every opportunity.

I do still have moments where I doubt my own abilities and think that I’m not good enough or educated enough or liked enough to achieve something. But I love what fellow youth worker Roy Hutch wrote on his blog a few weeks ago:

Remember – you will make mistakes, you will get it wrong, you will screw up once in a while.  That’s life, it does not mean you are finished.

Have confidence in yourself, a right understanding of your ability, learn to love yourself appropriately.  Be confident that you are capable of many things – you are not a failure because you have failed.  Learn to have confidence in yourself.

So what about you?

Have YOU ever had a moment when you really wondered if you were cut out for this role? What happened? Share with us in the comments!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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