Posted Mandy Murphy on 6/9/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
One recent Saturday, I was witness to a 7-year-old girl culling together two years’ worth of training into a five hour demonstration of her strength, knowledge and skill in front of a panel of 17 Masters and Grand Masters from Korea judging her every movement. She was testing for her first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Her focus was unwavering, except for the occasional glance into the bleachers, when our eyes met and she flashed her contagious cheeky smile.
This young person happens to be my daughter, and as I sat, nervous on her behalf, I was reminded yet again, what an honor it is to be her mother. She has always had a unique inner strength and solid sense of self that I have admired. She knows who she is and lives from that place. Each passing week of her black belt training, her commitment and determination stayed steady. Never once did I have to prod her to do her exercises, practice her forms, or study her Korean vocabulary. She decided when she was 5 that she wanted to be a black belt, and that was that. She was determined.
As I watched in awe as she achieved her goal, and I was filled with admiration, gratitude, humility and, oddly enough, a bit of sadness. If I am honest, I felt a sense of longing to be strongly reconnected with the youthful confidence I once had in knowing who I was and what I am capable of accomplishing. My daughter was showing me something that I had drifted from. I used to be similarly filled with determination and commitment, having lists of goals that I went after with determination. With age and overflowing life responsibilities, I am finding this one-pointed, “I am unstoppable” attitude hiding in quiet crevices of my being.
As I pondered these feelings, she transitioned to the board breaking section of the demonstration. She quickly made her way through the first and second board break. The third board break was a backward kicking board break. She missed her target on the first try, then again on the second. The third try made contact but did not break the board. With each attempt, I sunk a little lower just imagining her sense of defeat. I felt defeated myself. Yet, without hesitation she went for the fourth attempt and the board broke with a sharp crack. Her body held high, she ran for her fourth board breaking station with a jumping kick and snapped the board on the first attempt. She was not even phased and not in the least bit feeling deflated as I was imagining. Instead, she was proud.
What I witnessed that Saturday was the power of self-confidence. As I have grown and experienced more life, I have learned that it is not always so seemingly easy to live from that place of confidence. It is not always easy to set a goal and achieve it. The importance of a strong sense of self was one of the major reasons I founded the Girls on the Run of the Triangle, NC council 15 years ago. The Girls on the Run curriculum finds many powerful ways to connect young girls to their unique self and encourages them to wholeheartedly believe in their inner power. This foundation of self-confidence is necessary as these girls age and experience more and more life that has the potential of negating their self-worth. I continue to feel grateful for doing work that helps girls build this foundation.
I walked away from the event with a renewed sense of the importance of believing in myself. I was given a gift—a review lesson—by my daughter, unknowingly, on the power of self-confidence, staying the course, staying true to my commitments and being gentle with myself each step of the way. Her 7-year-old goofiness also reminded me that I also really want have fun along the way!