I walked into the room head held high and heart racing. Everyone was greeted with a firm, seemingly confident handshake and a smile in the hopes that an escaped giggle wouldn’t seem out of place. I hate that I laugh when I’m nervous. What am I twelve? Ugh. I felt like an imposter and I was terrified someone would notice that I clearly didn’t belong.
Would they dismiss me if they knew the truth?
The introductions began and I watched as my face was plastered over the large projection screens. I winced at the sight of my headshot. My eyes quickly scanned the room. Had they noticed it wasn’t professionally taken? I felt sick. I had given my 11-year-old daughter Bailey a crash course in photography just weeks prior and borrowed my neighbors perfectly manicured yard to set the backdrop for the shot. My bio was unconventional to say the least, but then, everything about my story was.
I reminded myself not to fidget nervously. That would surely give me away. My legs turned to jello beneath me. An image of me tripping and falling on my face flashed through my mind.
Please Lord.. please help the words to come.
But I was also the kid who couldn’t wait to go door to door selling gift wrap and magazine subscriptions for the school fundraiser. The one who raised rabbits in the backyard so I could sell them, and offered to house train them (for an extra fee of course). Who had a babysitting gig booked every weekend and invested the spoils in homemade muffins and cans of soda to sell to the construction workers building homes in the neighborhood. And yet, when it came time to go to college, “business” never even crossed my mind. So I opted to do the only logical thing I could think of and enrolled in a beginners equestrian course. Riding horses. I figured if I was going to waste time and money attending school I might as well have fun doing so.
I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t sure who I was let alone what I wanted. That’s when I met Brandon. He wasn’t like the others. He knew exactly what he wanted out of life and how he was going to get it. He was predictable. Safe. And easy on the eyes!
He also wasn’t interested.
Not one to turn down a challenge, I set out on a “catch and release” quest. Four and a half months later, we were engaged. My parents weren’t keen on their 18-year-old daughter getting married, so naturally, we waited a whole six months. Two weeks after my nineteenth birthday, we were pronounced husband and wife.
His friends would often come over for dinner and I would listen to them dream up entrepreneurial business endeavors. Being the only one in the room without a degree, I kept my opinions to myself. What did I know anyway?
Standing on that first stage, speaking at that first conference, I felt a surge of adrenaline unlike anything I had ever before experienced. The words flowed with ease and anxiety turned to excitement at the possibility of enacting change in the minds and lives of others. I walked away from that experience with a greater understanding of who I am, and even more, who I had the potential to become.
In the days preceding that first conference I allowed myself to feel like I didn’t belong. As if I had nothing worthwhile to contribute. The voice was loud and unrelenting. It sought to stifle my dreams and make me question my value and ability to make an impact on those around me. It exploited every fear. Every insecurity.
The voice was my own.
As I stepped off that stage I was confronted by countless women. Story after story was shared. Within each story was a dream, and in the way of each dream was a roadblock of disbelief that had been constructed and perfectly positioned by the dreamer herself. My heart raced faster than it had before I took the stage.
This is it! This is the reason for my success.
Nothing on paper suggests that I have the circumstances or education necessary to run a successful company. And I certainly know how to build an impressive road block. But there was something else. Something I had never identified previously. I can build a mean roadblock, yes, but I also know how to smash the sucker to smithereens!
Someone will always be smarter, more talented, have greater resources, a better education, more expendable finances and so on. That’s real. That’s life. But it’s up to me if that’s the excuse I choose to use to define my limitations.
As women, we have this nasty ability to compare the worst version of ourselves to the best version of those around us. Our “beginning” to someone else’s “middle”. Even in the very midst of my opportunity to step into who God created me to be, I degraded my potential for success before even allowing myself to try.
I deserve better than that.
My daughters deserve better than that.
We as women deserve better than that.