“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus I was fourteen years old, sitting in the doctor’s office with my eyes closed. My heart was pounding with anxiety, as […]
I was never an outgoing kid. A series of unfortunate events during my high school years, whose perpetrators undoubtedly know of my longlasting distress, left me emotionally crippled. I was shy to the point of becoming unable even
Ever since I was a child I struggled with self-doubt. That feeling that you aren’t good enough, that you can’t accomplish anything, that you’ll never be successful or happy. I wrestled with that feeling every day, trying desperately
Charlotte: “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.” Bob: “You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” -Lost in Translation, 2003 One
I am so non-confrontational that the thought of saying anything to anyone that might rub them the wrong way has always given me instant anxiety.
I have suffered from this syndrome of wanting to keep the peace at all costs since childhood. And now that I am just a couple of years shy of 50, I am really sick and tired of carrying around this burden of having to keep the peace. I want to speak my truth!
I stood in line with 150 other girls who wanted the same thing I did—a spot on the TopCats dance team to cheer on National Football League’s Carolina Panthers from the sidelines. Nineteen and 21-year-olds listened to tryout music in their earphones and spun their perfect, spray tanned, sequin adorned bodies into pirouettes as they practiced their first-round routines.
They appeared as though they had been dancing their entire lives unlike me who had only taken jazz classes one month prior to auditions. This observation simultaneously scared me and made me curious. I decided to explore the latter by asking the girl in front of me how long she had been dancing. “Since I was four,” she replied.
Five years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia alone. In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to. A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity—until, however, I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling novel, Eat. Pray. Love. It chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce.
The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagination of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies. It was this convergence that left no question about where my first trip abroad would be to once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I decided to go, I wanted go alone—just like Elizabeth Gilbert.
In July of 2012, I decided I wasn’t dreaming big enough. I attended a conference full of people doing amazing things for themselves, for charity, for their families… And I felt an incredible sense of inadequacy. Inadequate because what I felt inside wasn’t matching the actions of my outsides, and all these amazing people I was meeting were showing me that it could be done. My heart was overflowing with emotion, compassion and eagerness; I was just so scared to harness it for fear of rejection or failure.
In July, I decided to stop letting fear dictate my inaction, and instead, I began to let it fuel me to take more action.
I was the recipient of some bullying as a skinny young kid. One older boy in my neighborhood entertained himself with me occasionally by trapping me in our garage and threatening to beat me up if I tried to get out. Later, tougher kids would chase me home from school, I wasn’t actually hurt very much, but I became afraid of being beat up.
Even though I became an athlete in junior high school, the fear of being beat up persisted.
I recently came to some new conclusions about developing self-confidence, namely finding the confidence to make changes in one’s life (such as living a more meaningful life). They’re a bit unconventional (actually, they’re the exact opposite of how most people will tell you to develop confidence). I’ll share my epiphany with you first, and then tell you about a recent experience that got me there:
Many people say: first, try to build your self-confidence by convincing yourself to feel good (e.g. dress well, seek positive affirmations, etc.; and then go try to change the world). But I realized that never worked. No matter how “confident” I felt, I could never feel confident to do what I wanted to do. I realized, then, that this approach was completely wrong.
Even though my Kilimanjaro summit was 18 months ago, I still remember that final ascent like it was yesterday. I had been told prior to my climb that it would be a life-changing experience, but I shrugged it off as, “it’s a 19,000 foot mountain – just how life-changing can it be?” But, as I took those final steps to the summit I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face.As the only female in the group, I sniffled and mumbled something about the cold and the wind, and pretended it wasn’t happening.
And it would have been one thing if the tears had only been that day – but they weren’t. I found myself spontaneously bursting into tears that night, the next day, and the next day. As a matter of fact, those tears continued on for a full two weeks (at which point, I assure you, it was getting old).