Posted by at 4:10 pm  Add comments
Oct 182011

Buster-Skull-roller-derby-130104706596980000I am a confident person. I am confident in my abilities as a skater, as a leader, as a worker, and in all aspects of my life. I was taught to always do my best and take pride in everything that I do. That confidence is my source of motivation. I know that I am capable of great things, I expect great things from myself, and I work hard to accomplish great things. I recognize and seek out areas for improvement as a skater and in all my roles.

Webster’s defines confidence as belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. The issue is that many people confuse confidence with conceit. Self-confidence is necessary. However, you have to have confidence in others as well as yourself. You have to believe in your own capabilities an in others’, especially as a member of a team.

Over the years, I have been accused of being conceited, but never by anyone who knows me well. I suppose it is still my fault if I project an air of arrogance, but I truly don’t feel that I do. When I see myself, I view myself as strong and capable. I love what I see when I look in the mirror. If that were the only thing that I said, you might think I’m arrogant. But when I see others, I love them too. I know that sounds like bullshit, but it’s true.

I work as a physical therapy tech and recently I had a patient who was incredibly inspiring. I spoke to her for a solid hour about her love for everyone. She works in maintenance at a geriatric health care facility. To some people that is just a job, just a paycheck. But, she told me that when she comes in contact with someone, she makes a difference in their day. She may only see them for a moment while she is sweeping their floor or changing their linens, but in that moment she brightens their day. She greets everyone with a warm smile and opens a conversation. She takes pride in what she does. If her own mother were at an inpatient facility, she would want everyone there to treat her well, and so she recognizes the importance of what she does.

As a physical therapy tech, I could go through the motions and get by without putting my best into what I do. But, I would never do that. It might seem insignificant to ask a patient how their weekend was, or give them a sincere compliment, but I know that what I do matters. Maybe no one has asked them about their weekend, maybe something really significant happened and they simply want to share with someone. By being that person who asks I have made a difference and I take great pride in that.

My inspirational patient told me that she sees everyone as beautiful. She reminded me to be kind to those who are unkind because they need it the most. Love and confidence may not seem to go hand in hand initially, but they do. To appear confident rather than conceited, we have to remember that there is something to love in everyone. It is hardest to see in people who don’t see that in themselves, but that is when it’s crucial.

Someone who lacks confidence will not take pride in what they do, they may feel insignificant. I would imagine that going through life feeling unhappy with yourself would make you at least somewhat unpleasant. It might be challenging to smile at someone walking by with a scowl on his face, but he is the one who needs to see your smile! That small gesture is a reminder that you see good in them even when they can’t see it.

Of course, there are some people who have confidence in themselves and not in others. Those are the ones who are especially difficult to reach. My personal example of this is a “good old boy,” an older, country raised man who thinks that he knows better than I do about everything because of his upbringing, years of experience, and possibly because he’s a man. He’s not alone. We have all encountered arrogant people. What makes them arrogant is that they have a falsely high opinion of their own abilities and a low opinion of others’. These people don’t seek out areas for self-improvement and they don’t see the good in others.

I’ve learned recently that the best way to approach these people is with the same sincerity as you do others.  Don’t allow arrogant people to cause you to lose site of the good things that are within each person. It may seem counter-productive to look for good in someone who only sees good in himself, but if you don’t you will become him. As challenging as it is, you have to maintain your ability to believe in him. You may never change that person, but they may end up having confidence in you and that is a start.

If you only believe in yourself and not in others, than you are arrogant. If you only believe in others and not yourself, than others will doubt you. You’ll encounter people who struggle with one or the other, or with both. Don’t lose your confidence- you have to believe in yourself and in others, especially when it’s challenging.

As part of a team, especially in roller derby, you have to trust your teammates. If you’re playing defense and you doubt the person you are in a wall with, what happens? You leave them and try to hold the jammer on your own, or you overcompensate and end up leaving a space for the jammer to slip through. If you had trusted your partner’s abilities, whatever they might be, then you would have been better off. If I am in a wall with a brand new girl at practice, I will probably tell her to hold the inside line and guard it with her life then I’ll play defense on the outside and help keep our wall protected. If the jammer is coming up and my partner has left some space on the inside line, I will move her to where she needs to be. If my partner misses the jammer and I don’t have time to re-trap then we’ll just reset and adapt for the next pass. It is okay to be realistic about her abilities, but the point is that I don’t jump the gun and leave her. Instead, I work with her; I know that she has the potential to be a strong member of my team, but not if I don’t give her every opportunity to learn.

As a jammer, I have to be confident in my abilities. When I line up, I see the first holes that I am going to take and I take them. If they close up, I am ready to find another way, or fight through. I am confident that I will get by each of the opposing blockers, and I am confident that my blockers will be able to hold the other jammer so I can get through before she does. As soon as I doubt that, I hesitate. Any jammer can tell you that if you hesitate when you get to the back of the pack you may end up stuck. If you doubt your abilities you give them enough time to wall up in front of you.

An important thing to remember about confidence on and off the track is that it has to be realistic. If I know that I am going up against a solid wall, I don’t doubt whether I can do it, I simply adjust my plan. Maybe I’ll need one person to start on offense to get me through, maybe I’ll need to keep fighting through while my blockers stay on defense, the point is that I won’t back down. For most people, especially new athletes, the problem isn’t being falsely sure of their abilities, it is the looming self-doubt that comes with being new to anything. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about the realistic part. Just know that you can’t fly through a wall of solid blockers just because you are confident. That is called a back block.

Everyone on your team will have both strengths and areas for improvement (including you) but play to the strengths! Remember that off the track you’re a team with everyone in the world; it’s just a much larger playing field!


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