Growing up I was shy and had a decided lack of self-confidence.  I was an honor roll student and would know the answers in class but it was painful to be called upon by the teacher or have to give speeches in school.  Having any attention drawn to me would cause an immediate reaction of uncontrollable blushing to my face and neck.  In grade school I was taller than many of my classmates, including the boys.  I had to wear glasses, endured jokes about being called “four eyes” and overall felt very awkward and tried hard not to be noticed.  I spent way too much time worrying about what other people thought of me and got caught up in endless cycles of the “what ifs”.

Over the years as I’ve gained more confidence, I have learned not to care so much about what others think and be comfortable with who I am.  I also try to live more in the moment and enjoy the now instead of wishing my life away to some other day and place.

Diane saddle

As I recently celebrated another birthday. My husband, parents, grandchildren and I went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  My 14-year-old granddaughter thought it would be funny to let the server know it was my birthday.  Anyone who has been to Texas Roadhouse knows the drill – a group of servers show up at your table, shine the hanging light in your face, loudly announce your age to the room and everyone around you loudly shouts a big “Yahoo” in lieu of “Happy Birthday”.  Well apparently that wasn’t to be embarrassing enough; my granddaughter and the perky young server conspired to have the saddle brought over.

I immediately started shaking my head no when I saw it and momentarily thought about sliding under the table. (Old habits die hard…)  But then I saw the smiles on my two granddaughters’ faces and thought of the lack of self-confidence I’d heard each of them express and decided – what the heck – I was going to do it.  I would be a good sport and set an example for the girls about not caring what others think.

So I slid out of the booth and after taking a moment to (somewhat) gracefully get on the saddle, I sat up tall, waved my arm in the air and enjoyed the shocked looks of my family who later said they couldn’t believe I actually did it.  I even surprised myself a bit.

Afterwards, as I reflected on the experience I realized Oscar Wilde was right, “with age comes wisdom.”

Working at netlogx, a company that specializes in IT risk management, I took from the experience a tool we use a work at the end of a project:  lessons learned.  Some of the things I learned from the experience:

  • It is empowering to let go of worrying about what others think of you
  • Being spontaneous opens you up to new experiences
  • Opportunities to set a positive example for a child are priceless
  • The tendency to blush furiously doesn’t stop as you age

For days when my self-confidence may need a boost I plan to remember my experience and remind myself to “Saddle up and sit tall!”  Yahoo!