‛Embarrass yourself and your confidence will rise’ says once timid head boy
Sam Bean clearly remembers a time when he was not as confident as he is now.
His parents were going through a divorce and, having lived in the US for five years, the plan was to return to Bermuda.
All the change brought anxiety which impacted his academic performance when he eventually entered school here.
“In the fifth grade I went through a lot; a whole heap of things that made that time very hard in my life,” said Sam, now 18. “And when I came back to Bermuda I felt like I had lost a lot of what I once was.
“I was in the States at a very high academic level. I came back here and I was not doing well emotionally and it had an effect on my education and that led to anxiety surrounding my education. You grow up and hear all these great things: you’re going to be something one day, you’re going to achieve this one day …. But over those first two years that I was back in Bermuda it didn’t feel like I was going to achieve anything.”
Sam wasn’t conscious of the change in his behaviour until his father, Kevin Bean, started asking why he had become so “timid”. The conversation ultimately led to him joining Chatmore British International School, a co-ed private school in Smith’s.
“I really didn’t start to step out of that until I was able to come to Chatmore where they gave me the chance to be myself,” he said.
“Being at this school allowed me to pursue my hobbies, my interests, my passions and that led me to start taking risks.”
It gave him the confidence in 2017 to join the Bermuda National Youth Parliament, where he was able to put his debating skills to work covering the Ministry of Energy, Sustainability and the Environment. That experience then prepared him for the following summer, when he attended a two-week course at Babson College, a business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
“That’s really where I became this confident individual,” he said. “That’s really where I was able to get up in front of a crowd. Right now I could get up in front of a crowd of 1,000 people and just start speaking and not really feel any type of way about it – and it was because of that experience.”
A friend he met on that trip encouraged him to help him “host” an event before a crowd of about 300. It did not go as well as planned.
“I was terrified. I was nervous. But something about his smile, how he was, reassured me,” Sam said. “We went up there and made absolute fools of ourselves. We were all over the place. It was terrible.”
Their lip-synced opening act fell flat; nobody laughed at any of their jokes.
“It was bad. It was a good idea but when it was put into practice it was not the greatest. Even though everybody was looking at us like we were strange, because we were laughing about it, because it was so funny to us, not anything that any of those people thought mattered. And at that point, I got over that fear.
“I really did. And it’s the biggest thing [I would recommend] for timid people, for people who are shy and lack the confidence – just do it. It feels uncomfortable, yes. You will have knots in your stomach but keep doing it and you’ll get used to it.”
Without the push from Chatmore, he never would have reached that point, Sam believes.
“What led up to me having enough confidence to go there in the first place was me trying out debate – an extracurricular activity supported by the school.
“The staff here played a very important part in convincing me that I was even worthy or smart enough to try something like debate. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
He is now the head boy at Chatmore, with three IGCSEs under his belt “so far”. After his graduation in June he plans to spend two years at the Bermuda College before transferring his credits to the US, where he intends to make urban and regional planning his focus.
“It’s something I find very interesting,” he said. “I like to build. Not necessarily getting my hands dirty but really I want to help develop smaller communities into larger more prosperous communities. There’s a satisfaction I derive in that. I have bought some books on subjects. That’s how interested I am – an 18-year-old in 2021 going out to buy books.”
His advice to anyone who feels insecure is to take every chance that comes.
“Surround yourself with the best kind of people that are going to uplift you and make you a better person. I want to tell them to pray if they are religious, and I just want to tell them, even if it’s once, do something that’s incredibly outside of your comfort zone. Do a massive speaking thing, do a presentation, go away somewhere and just embarrass yourself and your confidence will rise.
“Try something like that and maybe make sure you’re with friends [while doing it]. Make sure you’re away so that if you do mess up and embarrass yourself nobody’s going to know who you are so you can go back home and it never happened.”