I almost didn't post this because it isn't really literary. But it has to do with confidence, which is the thing that keep us going in the face of all kinds of obstacles. The story I am about to share has been tickling the edges of my mind lately, but I decided to go ahead and tell it because I keep seeing posts on twitter saying things like "the most phenomenal woman in the room isn't the prettiest or the most successful, but the most CONFIDENT."
I completely understand the intent behind this little declaration. And I suppose it's empowering to think that key to fabulousness is in your own head, you just have to unlock it. But I think this is most appealing to people who are already confident-- or those who *act* confident. I can imagine a person who doesn't always feel so sure of herself reading that sort of message and feeling even LESS sure of herself as a result. So this one goes out to all the girls who could use a little propping up.
When I started college, I was not a very confident person. High school hadn't done me any favors, if you know what I mean. Add to it that I was going to be the youngest person in my class (sweet 16!). But I soldiered on, hoping something good was right around the corner. I had an honors scholarship, so I suspected that maybe I was smart, or kind of smart, or something. But I knew that I was not fabulous. (And let me tell you, at Spelman College, there was a lot of fabulousness happening.) Basically, I was an invisible girl.
After the freshmen orientation, the upperclassmen came back to campus. A few of them said to me, "Hey Donna!" I gave a embarrassed weak little smile until they realised that I wasn't Donna, instead I was some random freshman. This happened again and again.
Then, one day, someone chased me across the student center. "Donna!" I turned around because it was like Donna was my other name by now. The person said, "Oh you're not Donna. She lost her ID." I took the ID card and promised to take it to front desk where this Donna person could claim it.
I looked at the photo on the ID and gasped. (Really. Literally. An audible gasp.) Donna was GORGEOUS. And she did look like me, but gorgeous. It was like I was the BEFORE and she was the AFTER. I held on to her ID longer than I should have, looking her wide smile, and sassy tilt of her head.
This little moment changed the way that I looked at myself. I have wondered many times about what this little story means.
I think it means that even if you are not the most confident person in the room, it doesn't mean that other people won't find you beautiful or interesting. I like to think that other people may often have a more generous view of you than you have of yourself. And I think the story also means that even ugly ducklings aren't always ugly-- no transformation needed.
I did finally meet Donna, and she had heard of me, too. (I'm afraid that my appearance didn't give HER any confidence boosts!) But she took me under her wings and taught me important things like how to properly apply eyeshadow and how to dodge curfew. I haven't seen her in years, but I will always be grateful for what she gave me-- my gift of confidence.