Call me a delusional, dreamer or a head in the skies type of girl, but I am of the belief that I can do anything. You may think the whole “You can do whatever you set your mind to” mentality is for fortune cookies or only something that parents and teachers tell children as they are growing up. I would like to challenge that mindset and any thought or fear in your head that tells you, you cannot do something. If no one has ever told you, you can do absolutely ANYTHING. You can have what you want. You can go where you want to go. You can become the person whom you want to become.
How do I know this? I haven’t always believed in myself. In fact, I have struggled with insecurity, fears of rejection and not being good enough for as long as I can remember. Then life happened and with it came some important lessons that have forever changed the way I look at myself.
Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
“The thoughts you think will create the life you live. Choose wisely.”
Three years ago, I competed in a pageant at my university. I am not exactly the pageant type. I am not tall, skinny and have never been a beauty queen. I am probably as ordinary as ordinary comes. I am a tomboy at heart, dressed in a girl’s clothes. I like to shop but don’t do it often. I would much rather rock climb or go to a basketball game than sit at home and paint my nails. I rarely wear makeup and I can count the number of times in my life that I have had a mani/pedi on one hand.
So what possessed me to go out for a beauty pageant? The summer before my junior year of college, I interned at a local newspaper and had the opportunity to interview several pageant winners for news stories. I was amazed at the humility and down to earth nature the ladies possessed. I was also impressed by the large amount of scholarship money these girls had won through competing in pageants. These girls were ordinary just like me. I remember thinking, if they could do it, then so could I. So that next semester when the opportunity to compete in my university’s pageant was presented to me, I took it.
Fast forward a few months later, after fundraising, shopping for dresses, working on my platform and exercising like crazy, it was the night before the pageant. I was afraid. In my head, I was already defeated. The other girls competing in the pageant were more popular than me. They were pretty and poised. They had the ideal pageant look. I was literally shaking in my boots, and then a text arrived.
A friend of mine was competing in another pageant the night before and she won! One of our mutual friends text me the good news. I remember being so happy for my friend, but I wasn’t at all surprised that she had won. I knew she was going to win. My friend was beautiful, not only on the outside but on the inside too. She was kind and outgoing. She was hardworking and giving. She was talented and well spoken. I believed in her, and then suddenly, it hit me. Why did I believe in my friend so much but did not have the same confidence in myself? Why didn’t I believe that I could win? Why didn’t I believe in me?
The weight of that moment has stuck with me. I realized then that if I wanted to win, it was up to me. This applied not only to the pageant but with everything in life. I had to change my mentality. I had to start looking at myself as valuable. I had to see myself as enough. I had to start believing in myself the same way I would for a friend. So I told myself, “I can do this.” The next day, butterflies and all, I packed up all my dresses, my makeup and my costumes, and headed over to the auditorium. I felt calm. I was at peace. I was strong. I understood that my task for the day was just to be myself, to pour my heart on that stage and give my all. If the judges and the crowd like it or hated it, so be it, but I knew who I was and that was enough for me. My head was in the game.
I believe my last minute change of thinking caused me to win that pageant. Just by changing my thoughts toward myself, I was able to do something that I didn’t think I could do. I have seen this to be true so many times throughout my life. When I started college, one of my goals was to intern at a magazine in New York City, but I had no idea how I was going to afford it. A few years later, I was living in lower Manhattan working for one of the top magazine publishers in the world.
I could tell you story after story about how the power of the mind changes things. The truth is the thoughts we think will create the lives we live. So if you want something, I challenge you to make it happen. If you have a dream, go after it with all that you have. Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you because fears are only as real as we allow them to be. When those old thoughts of not measuring up come to your mind, say this, “I can do anything.”