An Anecdote on Confidence

When I was in the sixth grade I tried out for the pom squad.  I was never really girly, and this seemed to be what girls did, so I figured I’d give it a try.  Perhaps this was something girly I could enjoy, and not feel so separate from them.

There were some practices after school where we were taught the routine.  It was all kicks and turns and synchronized pom-shakes to Madonna’s “Vogue”.  At lunch on a Thursday, all the girls marched out to the field behind the playground, lined up in this long line, and the coaches hit play on the boombox.

photo credit: itisdschools.org

Most of the girls had makeup on and ribbons in their hair.  I wasn’t that invested.  There was no connection in my mind between what I looked like and how well I could perform. Why would I take the time and effort to pretty myself up?  It had to come off anyway, or I’d be doomed to prettying myself up forever.  The song exclaimed, “beauty’s where you find it.”  Weren’t they listening?

Plain and practical in my Thursday jogging suit, I took my position and readied myself as the high-pitched synth turned to beats.  Literally striking a pose, we made our first turn and took flight.  Shake, hip, shake, hip, kick, point, clap.  I had this thing down.  I was good at practicing.

About one chorus in, I noticed that the girl to the right of me was a half-beat off.  So was the girl next to her.  To the left, it was the same thing, all the way down the line.  Is everyone off time?  Don’t worry, coaches, don’t worry.  I’ll keep us where we’re supposed to be. 

That was the last time I ever pommed.

I have no regrets.

It never occurred to me, despite all the obvious signs, that I should fall in line and march in step. 

Another non-chorus girl.

I’ve lived a lot of my life this way, completely blind to what might be wrong.  Instead I consistently focus on what I’m doing right.

Sure, I didn’t make the team, but I was successful in preparing for the tryout.  I knew that routine inside and out.  I nailed every twist, turn, kick, and transition.  I just started my counts a half-step before everyone else.

This is the essence of confidence – believing in your ability to practice and prepare, regardless of the outcome.

When good things happen and we don’t work to get it, we call it luck.
Nobody considers winning the lottery as an achievement.


Define accomplishments by work, and you’ll never stop working.  Define accomplishments by the result, and you’re guaranteed to find yourself lacking.

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