This I Believe

Stacey - Moraga, California
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Trusting My Step

Two years ago, I didn’t care about the event; I never thought I would. I was so sure in my mind that the one event I’d never do in track was pole vault. And what’s my best and favorite event now? Pole vault. How ironic.

How many think pole vaulting is scary? I did when I was first introduced to the sport. The prospect of throwing your body into the air with a pole is pretty intimidating. I watched other vaulters run down the runway and at the perfect moment, plant the pole and jump. It was amazing — it was as if they hit an imaginary mark and knew when to take off. In the past two years I’ve been vaulting, I’ve learned to trust my step — trust myself.

Freshman year, 2005, I was constantly referred to as “The Next Tiffany Chang” because I resembled her so much; Tiffany set the school record for girl’s pole vault in 2004. I felt like I was always under this imaginary shadow, unable to be anything but “The Next Tiffany.” However, I believed in my abilities and in myself, gradually vaulting higher and higher; by the end of sophomore year, nobody called me “The Next Tiffany.” By believing in myself, I proudly made my own name in my track community.

Trusting yourself is having confidence in what you do. By learning to trust my step in pole vault, I have learned to trust myself and that has made me a stronger person. For example, I’ve learned to overcome my shyness around people — I open up more and take the initiative to start a conversation. I never used to talk so openly because I was so self-conscious of what others thought about me. Moreover, because I’ve learned to trust myself, I’ve become mentally more willing to attempt activities I doubted I could do, such as public speaking. Sophomore year we were required to do a ten minute-long oral presentation, and because I believed in myself, I had an easy time talking. Although I still stutter and mumble on occasion, this happens less frequently now that I’ve learned that trusting myself leads to more opportunities to express who I am. I’m not changing the world, but I feel like I’m making a positive difference in my life by trusting what I can accomplish.

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started vaulting. But what I’m able to accomplish now, on and off the track, are due to the lesson I learned in trusting myself. Sometimes we fall hard because something doesn’t pull through. And in pole vaulting, I literally have fallen hard. I don’t always get it right the first time which I’ve learned to accept because I trust myself not to give up. To achieve my dreams, all it takes is to trust my step — trust myself.