Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I have Confidence

When I was in second grade, my music teacher, Ms. Bellsauce assigned songs from the movie Sound of Music for us to learn.  I sat in the music room eagerly waiting for my turn. My friends and I wanted to sing "Favorite Things" together.  My second choice was the "So long, Farewell" song.  But, when she got to me, she said "Noelle you will be singing  I Have Confidence".  I was devastated.  Not only did I not get a cool song, I got the one song I had no idea what it meant.  I didn't want to sing alone either. 

She sang each of the songs for us, and then we left with the sheet music to learn.  I remember practicing with my mom and brother in the car.    I began to like the song and when it was time to sing it in music class, I nailed it.  Not Tony award worthy, but for an eight-year-old I did pretty well.

That song is on my favorite playlist on Spotify.  When it's not on a loop in my head, it is playing in the background.   I met with Ms. Bellsauce for coffee a couple years ago.  I reached out to her because she was still teaching at my elementary school, and I needed to ask her a few questions relating to my current job.    I told her how much singing that song had influenced my life and how crazy it was that a random decision could mean so much to a kid.  30 years later and she told me there was nothing random about that decision.  She chose the song for me because I lacked... confidence. 

Confidence is something I have had to work on very hard.  It does not come easy.  Early on, I discovered that I had physical confidence.  There wasn't a sport I didn't try, or that I didn't excel.  Being athletic gave me body confidence.  I celebrated what my body could do.  Of course, when I got to high school there was a brief moment when I thought girls shouldn't beat boys at soccer and I would act shy, and not run after the ball. But then I woke up once I discovered that was idiotic, and not nearly as much fun.

The confidence I had in my athletic ability, unfortunately, didn't carry over to other aspects of my life.  

I'm an extremely slow learner.  I can read things to learn, but I can understand things much better if someone explains it to me.  Or if I ask questions.  Sometimes the same question, again and again.   So I would do this in class and kids began to notice.   I quickly earned a reputation for being stupid.   Now, I admit, I can be a bit ditzy at times, but it is only because I have about ten things going on in my mind at once.

Once you get a reputation its kind of  hard to shake. And I began to believe it.   And once you form an opinion about something, no matter what it is, you will continue to believe it until you are shown something different.

It seemed that the older I got, the less confident I was becoming.

The first time I recall singing I have confidence was on my way to my an interview for an internship with a production company in California. I got it.

The next time was drumming up the courage to kiss a handsome guy sitting on the bar stool next to me at Harvell's on 4th Street in Santa Monica. He kissed me back.

I had to work really hard to graduate from high school.  Doubly hard in college. I recall singing I have confidence on my way to my last final exam in college.  I passed.

I hummed it right before I walked down the aisle to marry the guy from the bar.

I blared it in my car on my way to my first post-college interview at a radio station and I got that too.

I have confidence the world can all be mine, I have to agree, I have confidence in me

It sounds silly, but that song has given me such courage when I have lacked it. My brain is telling me, I'm stupid, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not funny enough,  not ___________ enough.

I just applied for grad school.  During the entire process, I found reasons why this was a horrible idea. I'm almost 40. I have been working for the past 15 years in the field, what more could I learn? I have four young kids and a mortgage and a million other adult expenses.   Plus, I'm a slow learner, I'm lucky to have just gotten out of college in five years. Plus I had to get my transcripts and ask people for recommendation letters. Who the hell is going to recommend me?

But I just did it, stopped making excuses and just applied, and after what felt like an eternity (2 weeks) I was accepted.  Somewhere in the acceptance letter it said that Me, Mommy, was going to be going to graduate school, not only that, they WANTED me.  Had I listened to my doubts instead of my recording of Julie Andrews, I may have never applied.

The courage to serve them with reliance,
Face my mistakes without defiance.
Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them
I'll show me!

I created the Mamalogues out of a crazy idea I had one night. Had I just left it on the table, and never followed through,  it would have never existed. And what is the purpose of our staged show? To give women a voice, to give them a platform and get this.. to give them confidence.

I see so many great things in other people, but I am blind to seeing those things in myself. 

But for whatever reason, this letter of acceptance, it meant a lot to me.  Not for the degree, but for the crazy notion that I believed that this stupid girl who failed algebra two, four times could even have a chance.

Whenever I feel defeated or scared I call my mom. I think she has a list stored in her phone of all my " adult milestones" that she recites in an effort to remind me of everything I have done with my life.
"You graduated college with honors" she still says it with a bit of shock in her voice.
I reply " But it took me five years!"
"You had four babies"
I reply " But I had c-sections"
"You got married"
I reply " Because I gave him an ultimatum" Not really, but I did mention that I wasn't going to wait forever.. ( I was 24 when we got married)

"But" I begin, and she always stops me because she already knows that I'm going to go into a rant about someone else, who has had five babies, and has three PhD's and makes 5 million dollars and has not only a husband but a boyfriend too and... (Just kidding on that part).

I begin to lack confidence most when I start comparing myself to others.  If someone is beautiful, does that make me less pretty? If someone is intelligent, does that make me stupid? If someone appears to have all their shit together does that mean I don't? 

I have a friend who in an artist and lives in Santa Fe. She didn't finish college, she doesn't have children and isn't married. But she is the most bad ass cool, independent, wonderfully happy, radiant woman I know.  She is so cool that she doesn't even have a Facebook account.  And sure, she is wonderfully confident in her life and her career. 

Her confidence in just being who she is, not trying to impress anyone or one up anyone. She just creates, and exists and is perfectly content.  What she creates is one of a kind.  What I create is one of a kind, what anyone creates is unique and can't be compared, especially if it is original.

Ms. Bellsauce knew this, even in a class of 2nd graders.  Confidence should come from within. I'm almost 40 and still learning this, and it isn't something that a degree will give me, I have to figure it out on my own.

Yesterday morning as I left a particularly difficult workout I started to tell myself untruths.  I was cursing myself for eating like crap over break, for drinking too much, for not sleeping enough.  Then I literally stopped.  It was an effort to calibrate.  Instead of adding to my list of gripes that I was lame for putting myself down, I decided to think something positive.

I'm here. I'm healthy. I'm breathing. I'm loved. My car is going to start. And I took a step.

With each step I occupied my thoughts with something, anything, as long as it wasn't negative.

By the time I got home I had already built my confidence to a acceptable level to face a day of work, and I did it all without calling my mom. Which I'm sure she is grateful considering she is on West coast time.

All I trust I leave my heart to,
All I trust becomes my own!
I have confidence in confidence alone.

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