Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 1: Act with Confidence
When it comes to my ability to organize a closet, I know I’m a great asset. When it comes to making my family’s famous brownies, I know I can do no wrong. When it comes to striking up conversations with strangers, I know how to walk away with a new friend. But when it comes to cornhole, volleyball, or other skills I have no perceived ability in, I tend to be more passive.
For the most part, I’m very comfortable with who I am, what I do, and how I portray myself – through The Smile Project and otherwise. That said, there are some aspects of my life where I can easily feel underprepared and overwhelmed all in the same moment.
I experienced quite a bit of this in 2017 as I took on roles and positions that felt very out of reach. I was nervous and on edge and it didn’t take long for the same spark that makes me befriend every dog owner in my apartment building to fade away into a quiet voice of passiveness.
I am not a passive person. I never have been. If I have a question, I ask. If I want help, I request it. If I need support, I will make that clear. However, I noticed a few definitive changes in myself last year that I wanted to address. That’s how I found myself focusing on confidence and attitude this week. It feels like a good place to begin this year of self-growth and tackling challenges.
At 4:41 am on Wednesday morning, I silenced a blaring alarm and shuffled to the airport, making friends with other early birds. I was en route to Dallas, Texas for a work meeting where I would see out the end of the week and as I stepped off the plane into the warm southern air, I promised myself I would keep my bright eyes up and my brain in full focus.
I asked questions and I sought out advice. Any pre-conceived notions of limitations that I had set faded away when I promised myself that I would act confident – even if I didn’t feel it. In every interaction I had, from the folks at the airport and the hotel to my colleagues from across the country – I promised myself that I would take an active role in my world and experiences, even if I felt nervous.
There are so many studies about how you can trick yourself into feeling happier by smiling or less afraid by tricking yourself into strength. I’m no psychologist, but I definitely think they are on to something.
Act like you’re supposed to be there – I promise you, you are. Smile like you are ready to take on the world – I promise you, you are. And be an active participant in work and play – I have a feeling the world rewards those who confidently pursue what makes their heart sing.