Call it a Christmas in July present: the result of a week-long summer class I took at Penn State University that changed my life. And will hopefully change yours, too, like injecting steroids into your self-confidence.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
When my college professor told the class to set up like a Soul Train line dance, we knew something crazy was about to happen. We were not at a party. We were part of an emotionally-intense and condensed course to rack up a quick three credits in July. Little did I know it would influence my self-esteem and confidence like no other single event in my life.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
There were twelve of us in the eight-hour-a-day class at Penn State Ogontz. It didn’t take long for us to bond. But as fast as we got close, and as close as we got, we still weren’t prepared for what Professor Al Miles pulled on Day Two.
“Make two lines facing each other, standing shoulder to shoulder with an aisle between the two lines,” the tall, blond professor directed. We followed orders and appeared ready to line dance. But this was not going to be a line dance.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
“You will each take turns walking one at a time down the aisle, stopping half-way. Then you’ll walk the rest of the way and stop near the end. Both times you stop, you will say something, anything, but it has to be the same thing both times. Take a minute to think of something to say.”
I was standing midway in line, so I had extra time to think of what to say. Hmm? I’ll say something funny. But what? Okay, maybe something clever. But what? The first person went. He stopped half way. “Hi.” Then he marched on. “Hi,” he said again at the end.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Now I was fully focused on thinking of what to say. I thought of popular sayings at the time (1990). Too unoriginal. I thought of jokes, one-liners, maybe just making a funny noise, but that would be lame….and then I was next! Decision time. (What would you say, Dear Reader?)
I started my strut. From the corner of my eyes I saw my new friends’ expectant faces. “What’s he going to say?” they were thinking. (Actually, they were not thinking this as you’ll see in a minute.) Half way. I stopped. I spoke. I continued. Lather, rinse, repeat; I resumed my place in line.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
I wondered how I did. Did I sound cool or boring? Were people thinking my word choice was stupid? Was my walk awkward or cool? So many questions and Facebook not invented yet to fulfill my need for acceptance with a positive comment or a hallowed (or is it hollow?) Like. Then the exercise was over and the professor had two questions for us. They. Blew. Me. Away. (BTW, this guy could be my twin.)[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
“What did the person before you say?” the teacher asked.
Woe. I remembered only what the first person said. I didn’t remember the person before me because I was too consumed with debating what I was going to say. Second question: the knockout punch. “What did the person after you say?”
Blank. I had no idea what was said after me because I was busy in my own mind wondering how I appeared in other people’s eyes.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Only one person out of the twelve knew what the others said. The rest of us were preoccupied with something more important: ourselves. It seems we humans are so concerned about “our own pimples,” as the professor put it, “that we don’t notice other people’s pimples.”
Psst: Let’s flip that around. Other people are too consumed with their own pimples (traits, actions, bad hair, etc.) to notice yours. That means you don’t have to worry what others will think about you, your outfit, or your “pimples.” Be yourself and be happy and confident knowing everybody else is busy worrying what you think of them.
Oh, I don’t even remember what I said when I walked down the aisle. That’s how unimportant it was.[Featured Image Credit: www.lifehack.org] [/nextpage]