What I Learned About Confidence From a Middle School Spelling Bee

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May 19, 2014
Hi lovelies! I'm so happy to be back from my little break. Exams are over and the universe lets out a collective sigh of relief (mild hyperbole). Today, I want to share a story from junior high + where I got what I call my quote-manifesto. It's about to get a little serious, a little sappy, a little cliche around here, but this post has gotta happen. If this isn't your deal, no worries, I'll be back with the previously scheduled sass on Wednesday with a post on bioluminescence (oooh, science!). 

So to start out my story, let's just put it out there that middle school is literally the most fragile, insecure, her-snarky-comment-about-my-hair-made-me-cry-for-days sort of stage in our lives. Anything--and I mean anything--can ruin you in middle school, from whatever your mom yelled to you as you got out of the car to what kind of food you brought for lunch.

I was always reasonably well-liked in the "upper middle class" of the junior high social hierarchy. But come sixth grade, I knew my downfall was coming + I knew that it would come in the form of a spelling bee. 

I used to be freakishly good at spelling. Like really good. But more importantly, I thought that made me freakishly bad at being a cool person. I hated being smart, being good at things that other people weren't. 

But because I hate to lose, I found myself in this spelling bee at my school. And I won it. Spelling bee in the county. Won it again. The region. Champion. Then I had states. And it was then that I decided I didn't want to be in the spelling bee anymore. Because who really does spelling bees anyways?

So I tried to quit, but my parents wouldn't let me. They sat me down on our green leather sofa and made me watch a movie--Akeelah and the Bee--about an inner city girl who competes in the National Spelling Bee. In the final moments before the competition, she remembers where she's from and doubts that she belongs there. And at that moment, she reads this quote from Marianne Williamson (bolding mine):

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

That quote is the reason I finished and competed in that spelling bee, even though I lost. But more importantly, that quote has shaped the way I carry myself ever since. You know what? I'm an intelligent person. I am beautiful. I am talented. And I'm capable. 

It's not cocky and it's not silly to believe in your own power. 

Because of that one juvenile movie, I have a manifesto, one that guides so much of what I do. 

What's your quote-manifesto?

P.S. Like when I get serious? Thoughts on being a multipassionate blogger and on honesty/Jerry Springer (yep I'm for real).

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