Just Go Left

What a Marching Band Taught Me About Confidence

Choosing Joy, On My HeartAshtenComment

Whew.

That's me letting out the breath I feel like I've been holding for the last week. As you're reading this, I'm on my 10th day in a row of work and wrapping up our biggest event of the year. To say it's been stressful would be an understatement so let's just say I'm basically living for the 3-day weekend I've given myself as a reward for surviving all the crazy. 

See this post on Instagram which illustrates my current mental state.

I'm sure many of you spent your Sundays sipping frothy lattes, wearing your favorite comfortable clothes and soaking every last moment of relaxation before the busy week ahead.

I spent my Sunday with a marching band dressed in neon. 

I realize it's not every day a marching band comes through your office and trust me, this is one of the more unique situations I've been in over the course of my career. As you can imagine it was quite the spectacle: people were coming out of their offices and peering over balconies watch and as the band continued to play, I became aware of over a dozen phones and cameras capturing every single moment of the performance and every ounce of the exhaustion written all over my face. 

Literally people were STARING at us, which is normal since, I guess because, ya know, BAND IN NEON WALKING THROUGH YOUR OFFICE. But I couldn't help but feel a little exposed and vulnerable. In a world propelled by social media, I couldn't help but wonder where these photos and videos would end up? Would the faces of these people be plastered all over social media in fun or mockery? Are they afraid of the people just blatantly staring at them as they march in neon without any kind of protection or privacy filter?

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As we walked from building to building my insecurities grew: it felt strange to be "on stage" like that. It was uncomfortable having phones shoved in my face, capturing goodness knows what face I'm making, how unkempt I looked (and felt) or how completely exhausted I was. I was terrified of being made fun of, disliked or even taunted. I've never felt like a confident person, though I think my friends would describe me otherwise. There have always been nagging doubts about not being good enough or accomplished enough; always that feeling of worry when I expose myself to other people's criticisms and opinions. I suddenly found myself turning away from every camera and every cell phone; even hiding off to the side or in a corner to avoid being seen.

As we went up an escalator and the band had a moment to breathe I turned to one of the band members and asked "doesn't this make you nervous? All of these people taking pictures and videos of you? Aren't you scared being in front of all these people?"

"Honey," he said and I detected a little Southern Drawl, "if I cared what these people thought I wouldn't be doing what I love and that would hurt me more than a few people taking my picture."

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His words have stuck with me these last few days and I couldn't help but ask myself: when's the last time you put yourself out there because you were scared of what would happen if you didn't? When is the last time you believed in yourself enough to try, even if you knew you might fail? I have always admired people who have an unwavering sense of self; who stand tall and proud of who they are, even if there are some people who don't understand them. 

Here were these musicians, walking proudly through uncertain territory, embracing the moment, completely proud and passionate. They approached strangers and let them take pictures and videos, they rocked their mismatched neon attire and they did it all with a smile....there was no fear of rejection or judgement; only excitement of sharing their passions with others.

I have to say, spending the day with them changed how I feel about myself a little bit. I'm started looking for confidence in little moments of victory: like the days when I feel like I simply can't make it to the gym but go anyway or the times that I publish a blog post that's personal and hard to write. These musicians showed me that no matter how scary a circumstance or unsure of myself I might feel, I have the ability to shine and I should be proud of the things that make me, me. 

Still deaf from those cymbals though.