To Finding Courage and Confidence

Hello my lovelies!  This week has been full of interesting challenges for me, and I thought I’d share with you a little about what I’ve learned this week on finding courage and confidence.

Anyone who knows me (or knew me in high school or college, when I was particularly introverted and reserved) knows that I didn’t exactly have a lot of self-confidence.  In fact, my self-esteem was always pretty low.  I knew I was smart…and that was about it.  When it came to looks, I always found something I didn’t like.  When it came to big group conversations or group projects, I stressed myself out by not knowing the right things to say and then beating myself up over it afterward.  I preferred to be an observer, sometimes for the fun of it, but mostly because then I didn’t have to worry about making small talk.  And then I wallowed in self-pity because I was lonely.  It was an awful cycle.

But I realized this week that I’m not that person anymore.  While I still feel introverted at times (trust me, I still need to find at least 45 minutes in a day to sit and read if I want to feel at all relaxed), I feel more confident in groups.  I’m a little more likely to step out on a limb and take a chance.

My discovery began in mid-February.  I had known since October that my old high school drama teacher and dear friend, Mr. D, was stepping down as the head of the drama club.  I have been going to his shows since I was a freshman in high school 10 years ago, with my senior year as a member of the club and a lead in both of the shows I was in.  (That’s a whole ‘nother story, but suffice it to say that this man and his wife, who worked on costumes and props, changed my life.)  Even during college and after I no longer knew anyone in the shows, I still came back to catch up with Mr. D and see how things were going.

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In February, I impulsively sent a mass Facebook message to old drama club members, many of whom I hadn’t seen or talked to in at least 5 years offering to make a scrapbook of pictures and letters of thanks for him.  This alone had me shaking with nerves–and a hint of adrenaline.  I was excited to be doing something special for him, something that would show him just how much we care.

But I immediately hit my first roadblock–the first person to respond told me that two other people were already making scrapbooks.  It was a rejection of sorts, and it immediately took me back to my low self-confidence, a level I hadn’t felt in months (because, obviously, there are always going to be highs and lows in life).

About three weeks ago, the same girl who told me two others were making scrapbooks came back and said actually no one was, and was I still up for doing it?  I was.  Three weeks wasn’t very long of a time frame, but I was determined.  I asked my friends and anyone who had been in the club to send me whatever they had.

And you know what?  It has been a really amazing process.  I know how important Mr. D has been to me, but it’s been really fabulous to see how much he means to others and to create something that he can hang on to and treasure from us.  I have had old members send me amazing letters and a few that told me they cried as they put together their letters–which I certainly also did.  But I also know that a few years ago, there is no way I would have found the confidence to send that first Facebook message, knowing that there was a chance someone would think my idea was stupid.

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Tomorrow, we will present him and his wife with the book on stage at the very end of the last show he’s going to do.  A bunch of old alumni are going to join me on stage for this, and I’m really nervous about it.  I’m sure he’s going to love the gift, but it’s been 6 years since I was last on stage, in front of that many people.  (I can guarantee that as a final show for him, it’s going to be sold out.)  It’s going to be nerve-wracking, but worth it.  I’m all jumbled up inside and I still have something like 20 hours to go before we get to that point.

While that has been the catalyst for a lot of other small changes, there are still other moments where I stop and take stock of myself and go, “Woah.  A few months ago, I never would have done that.”  Like wanting to be the center of attention in the middle of salsa dancing lessons.  Like going out on a date with someone new.  Like intentionally giving myself a double chin to make someone laugh.  Little things, really, but things I did without much–if any–hesitation.  Things that I would have decided not to do before because it would have been ridiculous or too outside of my comfort zone.

So why am I suddenly more confident?  I’m not really sure.  It could be that I’m finally feeling more comfortable talking in front of groups of people who don’t always like me, which I do every day as a teacher.  It could be that I’m starting to care less about what others think of me as I realize that it doesn’t matter what someone who hasn’t seen me in 5 years thinks of me.  Or it may be that focusing on what I was like in high school while I made this book made me realize just how far I’ve come since then.

Whatever it is, I really encourage you guys to stop and take a look at yourself.  You may think that you’re body isn’t perfect or you say/do stupid things in front of others, but you are still beautiful people.  And once you start noticing that, your life will feel so much different.  It’s more fun to forget about your limitations and enjoy what you can instead of fearing what may happen.  Insanity makes life fun.  Just ask these two.

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