The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. This is a quote I have often heard, but only recently began to understand and apply within my own life. This past summer I participated in Girl’s State, and there among the brightest young ladies and future leaders within Virginia I discovered a shocking and life-changing finding. These girls, the girls I have always tried to emulate, are successful because they are not afraid to challenge an idea or personify the change that they want to see. I have always been terrified of socializing because of a lack of self-confidence that has haunted me since elementary school. With this in mind and a conviction within my heart to enact the change that I wanted to see within myself, I ran for Governor of Girl’s State. Running for Governor entailed giving a speech in front of 300 young ladies who had spent a great portion of their day listening to continuous speeches. Needless to say, I was intimidated not only by the size of the crowd but also by the state of irritability I assumed they would be experiencing. As I approached the podium, my heart was racing and my mind was flashing from one prepared point I wanted to make to another, but, as I looked across the crowd, I realized that before me sat 300 peers who weren’t going to throw tomatoes at me but instead genuinely wished to hear what I had to say. Throughout my speech, I could see a sea of smiles, and as I walked off stage, I even heard a girl say “I like her.” As the caucusing took place, the other thirteen candidates and I were sequestered in a room across the hall where we stayed for about forty minutes. Sitting there surrounded by those girls, a feeling of belonging overtook me, and I was suddenly reminded of how afraid I had been to even attend Girl’s State. The entire experience of Girl’s State gave me a confidence I will cherish and refer back to for years to come. Being thrust into a crowd of 600 girls I had never had any sort of contact with before was one of the most terrifying things I had ever experienced, but, as I grew to know some of them, I came to understand that my fear of rejection was founded in a completely ludicrous assumption. As I walked out of that room and heard the name of the Federalist candidate for Governor, I must admit that I was saddened to hear that it was not my name. However, I soon overcame my sadness as the girls from my city came up to me that night and the following morning to tell me that they were delightfully surprised and inspired because of the speech that I gave. I have never been as proud of myself as I was after losing that campaign because within my loss there was a win. I had won my campaign to a more confident self.
July 21, 2011