I remember when my highschool cross country coach told me to join track.
I remember my eyes widening, and me going, “Nooooooo. No way.” I wasn’t a sprinter. I wasn’t even a middle distance-er. I just like jogging and enjoying nature. I didn’t like the repetitive track, which I also found ominously daunting and pushing me to go harder and faster. I found the latter specifically anxiety-inducing.
Somehow, he pressured me to joining, and I’m half glad I did! It pushed my outside my comfort zone and made me a better cross country athlete. The sprints that I dreaded quickened my standard pace in long distances, and I always left a practice feeling proud of my effort. In a way, my coach believed in me more than I did.
I remember also coming in dead last place in a 200m run which I never signed up for. To make things worse, I was given the number “1” on my jersey, which made me want to shrink even more so at the starting line when all the other athletes were taking their place. They were tack athletes. They were tall, and god, they looked competitive. I wanted to die as I crossed the finish line 8 whole seconds after the last person.
I remember someone from the bleachers shouting, “She is SO SLOW!” I never felt so humiliated in my life; I wanted at that moment for the earth to swallow me up whole. I don’t remember what my coach said afterwards, but that might be because I tried to hide from any social interaction after that.
You know what? I did come last, and, I lapped everyone sitting on the couch who never had the courage to take a chance on themselves and do something scary. It was painful, but I don’t regret joining track and I don’t regret competing. I think what I got out of it mentally was rewarding beyond measure; I did a scary thing. I did an uncomfortable thing. I did something I was BAD at. It stretched my comfort zone, and, what was the worst that happened? Just a bad feeling. I was scared of a bad feeling. No bad event happened to me; I was scared of my own shadow. I was scared.
I’ve taken this into what I do today; I try new things. I do things that I have a high chance of getting rejected at. I do things that stretch my comfort zone. I am the most inexperienced in a jazz dance class sometimes. And doing this builds self-confidence by stretching my comfort zone; it also keeps life INTERESTING and thrilling!. 🙂 I’ve also taken this into speaking and life coaching; I encourage others to take the BOLD step; not the safe, small step.
So…how has self-confidence played a role in my life? By encouraging me to take the expansive step my heart has been yearning for. You’ll see me on stage one day. You’ll see me fail and feel humiliated and carry on.