Wednesday 31st May 2023

Having a healthy sense of self not only depends on an honest look inside, but on quality relationships which shape and support our understanding of who we are.

It can be really tough for young people today as they navigate a world which requires them to make lots of decisions about their identity.  Jesus often critiques the human temptation to 'keep up appearances' and cover over the deep things.  In this sense 'goodness' is not derived from practices (like what we eat or the rules we follow), but comes from our heart.  If we are to have the courage to not merely conform—to be ourselves—we need safe environments and quality relationships to assist us to perceive ourselves honestly and live with integrity.  Every person is loved by God.  Being 'ourselves'—flourishing even—has implications for how we recognise and communicate the value in others—personal wellbeing is to overflow in love for our neighbours.

Jed Neville concluded our gathering with a wonderful prefect's 'Last Word' summing up our theme:

Today, I want to address a topic that resonates deeply with many of us: "Not trying to be something you are not." It takes courage to be yourself. Everyone of us here is different but that’s what makes us so special. In this era of constant comparison and social media influence, it is crucial for us, as teenagers, to embrace our true selves and resist the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards. We have all been afraid to stand out at different times in our lives and it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to these idealised versions of others. However, standing out is a good thing. Take those who inspire you most, they didn’t become an inspiration by following the beaten path and trying to be someone else. To achieve greatness in any area you first have to understand who you are as a person and what makes you great. I encourage you to explore your uniqueness and to find self-acceptance. We must all support each other's differences to be able to embrace our own. Remember it’s your unique strengths that contribute to our world. Nobody else can do what you do! Stand up, stand out and inspire others to do the same. Famous author Vironika Tugaleva once said “You will never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.”