My best childhood friend was outgoing and adventurous, always up for anything with anyone. K somehow managed to seem both laid back and enthusiastic at the same time. About everything. A go-with-the-flow attitude and a twinkle in her eye.
She would come up with an idea—let’s form a band, sneak out at night, play truth or dare—and I would tag along. I just kind of drifted in her tailwinds. She was the shiny and free-spirited one. I was the ordinary and careful one. We balanced each other out.
The first month of seventh grade, K decided we were trying out for the middle school dance team. I thought about my dancing experiences to date. When I was eight-years-old, I convinced my mom to sign me up for ballet. I proudly showed up to the first class in my pink tutu with silk slippers to match. I tried awkwardly to launch my leg up on the bar for a stretch, while eyeing my classmates elegantly warmup with easy splits and pirouettes. Ballet was a nonstarter. Then there was tap dancing the following year. Excitedly lacing up my black patent shoes…only to trip over my own insecurities with every shuffle ball change.
Ugh, I was not a fan of this dance team plan. And, as always, I went along with said plan. We spent a week preparing. Meeting after school to watch MTV videos and practice our moves. Kid N’ Play, the Roger Rabbit, and a few Running Mans for good measure.
The day of tryouts, we waited with a 100 or so others in the gymnastics room. Two or three at a time, little clumps of tweens slipped through the daunting double doors to the basketball court. Small, etched glass windows allowed us spy on our competitors’ auditions. Oh crap. These girls were the real deal. The graceful ballerinas and tap dancers who had been doing choreography since they could walk. This was their thing. This was, glaringly, not my thing.
I was terrified. Carefree K wasn’t phased. When they called our number, I swallowed hard, clenched my jaw and my fists, and walked wide-eyed into the giant, echoing room. We put our hip-hop tape into the boombox, hit play, and did…something. What exactly, I can’t recall. I remember the thumping of my heart, the loud sound of mouth breathing, and bopping my limbs to no beat in particular.
Afterward, in the hall, my bestie tipped her face up, laughed, and shrugged it off as a fun and silly experiment. My chin dropped, I moaned, and shrugged on a shroud of embarrassment.
In high school, I drifted apart from K (and out of her tailwinds). Years later, I realized something. The more outrageous her actions and choices were, the more insignificant I labeled myself. The bigger her sense of wonder, the smaller my sense of curiosity. Yet, she never asked that of me. And, there was room enough in our friendship for both of us to shine.
I was drawn to her light, because that light was within me, too. I just had to let it radiate. Eventually, I did just that.
All of us have old stories—at least a handful from middle school!—that are still ruminating in some shape or form. Years (decades!) later, these old tales continue to define our self-worth and how we navigate the world.
We all have the power to spin a new yarn. To ditch dusty narratives and create fresh, positive thinking patterns. The key is in changing what’s on repeat in our mind. Try these mindsets shifts from executive coach Chantal Pierrat for a happier brain (and life!).
“I am enough. I am more than enough.”
“I create the positive things in my life.”
“I have something unique and powerful to offer. My wisdom comes to me easily and flows like a river through me.”