#25: My First Gala or The Age of Confidence

This past weekend I did one of my firsts. In case you recall, it was me promising myself I would try 25 new things to commemorate turning 25 this year. With that said, one of my firsts happened this past weekend. It was a gala for work, which in layman’s turns means you get dressed up like you would for prom (but with less glitter) or a classy wedding and go to an event where everything is “free” (and by free I mean you pay a fair amount of coin to get all the free stuff where you are then expected to spend even more money to support said cause gala is for). I went to represent my boss and company.

No pressure.

I’ll admit, I had about two days where I seriously questioned why I had volunteered to go. I’m not known as the classy one in our circle of friends, and I wanted to do my best to represent my company. On top of that, I still had nothing to wear the night before.

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Thank goodness for certain department stores and their steep discounts. Through the magic known as clearance items, I was able to pull together quite the outfit. The outfit is what helped calm my nerves. The second I shrugged that silky sheath of a gown on, I felt comfortable and confident all at once. Believe me, that is not an easy combination to come by with formal wear.

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It was almost as if the dress had some magic powers, for the moment I purchased the dress I was no longer nervous for this gala. I felt ready. Prepared. Ready to take on the world (or at least the world of very generous individuals and their lifestyle that was oh so foreign to me).

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As I prepared for the gala, the nerves stayed hidden. I curled my hair (all by myself – those that know me understand that this is a feat indeed), slabbed on some after 5 o’clock make up, shimmied into some black tights, and threw the dress on. When I saw the finished project, something happened. As I looked at myself, I didn’t see the awkward duckling everyone has come to know (and love). I didn’t see a girl that struggled with her confidence on the daily, that had issues with anxiety and always seemed to question herself.

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No, instead I saw a confident, mature, and beautiful young woman staring back at me. It was like knowing you have potential bottled away somewhere, and then suddenly seeing it take form for the first time. That was my Saturday.

What was great was once we arrived at the gala, for a brief second this new bold lady disappeared, only to come back to the surface and network like a boss (see what I did there?) and she wound up having a fantastic time. This woman used the right fork on her salad, properly held her knife when cutting into her filet mignon, and helped keep an engaging conversation all through dinner. In some ways, the few hours at the gala and the confidence gained almost made up for every embarrassing moment I experienced at school dances as a young lass. Almost.

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Now this all may sound quasi-arrogant, but I am merely sharing because I know I am not the only one out there that struggles with confidence. Especially in the writing community, we can be an insecure bunch, and that feeling intensifies when one actually lets others read their work (more on that later). It’s like exposing a vulnerable nerve, an open wound, and praying the individual holding your precious words doesn’t pour copious amounts of sodium into the fragile abyss that is your literary soul.

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No. I do not share this experience at a gala to brag about how great I looked or how amazing I felt afterwards (well, not only). No, I’m sharing because it makes me happy that the confidence and potential I had been searching for so long is there and showed its shiny beaming face finally. It gives me hope that when other, bigger, scarier things come up in the next few months or years, be it related to writing or not – I will be able to handle it, no matter the size or fear attached.

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So, I raise an imaginary glass of bubbly to you (again), recent graduates, fellow writers, and others who struggle, and to you I say simply this:

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YOU GOT THIS.

Sincerely, The Shoe