Confidence is Key

Chelsea - Amherst, Virginia
Entered on May 26, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in being confident in oneself. I do not mean the type of confidence that makes one cocky; nor do I condone confidence to the point where one feels invincible. The confidence I speak of is the kind that allows the quiet girl to audition for a solo. This confidence is the kind that gives the science nerd the ability to stand out at improv night. This confidence is the kind that makes Julie Andrews dance down the street on her way to meet the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music. This confidence effects no one but the possessor, but allows anyone who possesses it to shine.

All my life I’ve heard the importance of being sure of yourself. Dance teachers forbade me to use the word “can’t.” From age three they drilled the belief into me that the only reason I couldn’t do something was because I didn’t believe I could. Softball coaches constantly reminded me to step into the batters’ box thinking when, not if, I hit the ball. Choir directors encouraged me to sing out- I shouldn’t be scared someone would hear me.

Yet all this advice went in one ear and out the other as my self-consciousness turned me into a bundle of nerves on the stage, in the field, and in front of a microphone. Despite the stress these activities seemed to cause me I enjoyed them and practiced until the skills I needed became muscle memory. I didn’t have to think in order to perform dance routines, hand eye coordination became instinctual, and years of voice lessons produced a voice I could barely recognize as I sang. I knew my boundaries, and I wasn’t in a hurry to step outside them.

However, the idea of spending another year sitting the bench on the softball team didn‘t appeal to me. I joined Ceramics Club to avoid going to some of the conditioning. But I chickened out when my friend encouraged me to join them in One- Acts. When the director of my friend’s play fired a girl, I decided to take a risk and asked him if I could have the part. He gave it to me. After one acting experience I decided to take a much bigger risk and audition for the musical.

The night before auditions I hit panic mode. I became convinced I’d ruined my life. Who gave up a sure spot on the varsity softball team to go out on limb for some musical? However, that morning, I had a revelation. No one was going to notice me unless I made myself noticeable. So I became louder and more outgoing, and it was fun! Onstage I could be whoever I wanted to be. I then spent the next two months becoming the character the director wanted me to be after I got cast.

After the musical, I became more sure of myself in all aspects of my life. I received leadership and showmanship awards for my work in show choir and I coach for a Dixie Youth softball team. Something the director said the closing night of the play in her memoirs about each cast member stuck with me though. She said that when she heard I hadn’t played softball in order to be in the play her first thought was: “Thank God she got cast.” Her second thought was that I had to have incredible confidence in myself, and that confidence had caused me to stand out at auditions. This is the kind of confidence I’m speaking of- the confidence to follow one’s dreams.