A Thought Piece by Naa Adei Kotey 17 July 2019

Last year Naa Adei Kotey, a student at Heartlands Academy, had her essay presented at the Royal Society, the world’s oldest independent scientific academy.

Having completed her studies at Heartlands, Naa Adei is now studying Cybernetics Engineering at the University of Greenwich. She’s also our student correspondent, writing pieces on everything from STEM to university life

Naa Adei delivered this inspiring speech about positive thinking at the National Pupil Celebration Event 2019. 

A few months ago, I read a book called The Power of Your Mind and realised how much our words influence us. A lot of us aren’t aware of how much control we have, and that puts us in situations where we can’t be our best selves. I want to explain why the only thing standing in the way of what you want is you.

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. Chances are you’ve heard that before. It’s also one gigantic lie. You’ll always hear that you can never let what others say upset you – and that’s true – but you don’t realise the power of your words. Sticks and stones might break your bones, but words can hurt you so much more.

Your words can build you up

Your mind and your words are so powerful. With them, you can build yourself up, but if you’re not careful, you can break yourself down. First things first – your mind is not your brain. It’s a gateway to everything that makes you, you. Everything that makes you laugh, cry or smile, it’s behind that door. Once you let something through, it becomes real to you and effects how you feel.

Think about it like this: imagine if someone told you you’re not good at something or hurt your feelings. At first it doesn’t mean very much to you. It doesn’t matter. Then after a while you start to think about it. Now it’s in and you’ve got a problem. It starts changing the way you think. Before you know it, you stop trying because you think you’re going to fail. Then what happens? You don’t do well because you didn’t try. In the end you became the thing you spent so much time thinking about.

“I can, and I will”

Let me give you an example. GCSE PE used to be the absolute bane of my life. I hated it. And I really mean I hated it. You see, at school I was that annoying kid that seemed to be good at almost everything. English? Yes! Maths? Even better. Science? Sign me up! Those were my subjects and I loved them. But PE? Nope. It used to frustrate me so much. Why couldn’t I be good at this one thing? It got to a point where my teacher told my dad that I wasn’t going to do very well. I was so ready to quit but my dad refused and told me that the only thing standing in my way was my desire. He said that if I wanted to do well, I could. From then on it became my mantra; ‘I can, and I will’. And guess what? I got an A in PE; even came top of my class in the written exam. How? I stopped thinking about everyone else and started believing I could do it.

‘Can’t’ is the most destructive word in the English language and I’m going to tell you why. Anything you can imagine can become real. If you can think it, it can exist. Once you start using the word ‘can’t’, in your mind, everything to do with that idea starts slipping away. It’s like it’s been deleted from your imagination.

“Tell yourself out loud that it’s going to be great.”

Look around you, everything you see is a product of someone’s imagination. For a while the only place these things existed was in someone’s head. Luckily for us, they didn’t leave it there. They believed in it and produced something amazing. Don’t give up on your ideas because of someone’s opinion. In fact, before you start working towards it, tell yourself out loud that it’s going to be great. Even if no one agrees with you, your idea will work. Why? Because you said so.

You’re a student, great, I’m a student too. But be a student with a difference. Be that student with dreams and ideas so awesome that people can’t help but listen to what you have to say. But to do that, you need to keep ‘can’t’ as far away from you as possible.

You are the pilot of your life. If your life was a car, your words would be the steering wheel – they decide the direction you’re going. You can always choose where you want to be. Don’t choose to stop being the best version of you.