Janet Sumner Johnson
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Oct 25, 2010 Uncategorized 23 comments

Story time: When I was little, I wanted to be a cheerleader. Doesn’t every little girl?

I told my mom and while she smiled, I saw the worry in her eyes. “It’s really hard to become a cheerleader.”

I told my friends who looked at me with skepticism. “Why?”

I told my older sister. “You have to be popular to be a cheerleader. I wouldn’t count on it.”

The thing is, I’d always been taught that I could do whatever I decided to as long as I was willing to put in the effort.

So in 7th grade I convinced my mom to sign me up for a cheerleading class. I learned to do kicks and jumps. I learned how to hold my hands just right. I learned how to chant loud and clear so everyone could hear. I learned how to do back-handsprings. I tried to learn how to do the splits.

The day finally came, and I awoke to a single rose in the vase. A note was attached. “We love you no matter what happens.”

I was nervous! I knew I wasn’t the prettiest, the skinniest, the most graceful, or the most popular, but I had worked hard. When my number was called (22), I went out there and did my best. I was thrilled when I was given a call back . . . right up until I flubbed the dance in a major way.

They started calling the numbers. The first, second, . . . . when the seventh was called, I knew in my gut I didn’t make it.

But my gut was WRONG. I was the last one called. My years of work had paid off. I had done it!!

 (I’m on the bottom, second from the right)

I tell this story because as a kid, I never doubted my abilities. I KNEW I could do anything I put my mind to. Even if it was hard. But now, as an adult, I let doubt seep in. Worse, I let it influence me. And really, what’s different? NOTHING.

Nothing has changed but my attitude. So I’m telling myself now: I CAN write, and I CAN succeed . . . even though it’s hard and takes lots of work and practice. It may take years of effort. But I CAN do it. And so can you.

How do you overcome doubt?


23 Responses to “”

  1. I love this post so much. I was always the negative girl as well with things. I used to tell myself that expecting the worst would help me avoid disappointment, but now I believe in being positive.

    Everything happens for a reason, sometimes it just takes a while to figure out why. 🙂

  2. Renae says:

    I take comfort from this wonderful blogging community. Without the support of those I've met through blogging I would have given up. Great post!

  3. I love this story! I didn't try anything as a kid because I totally lacked any shred of self-confidence.

    When I surprised myself and was accepted into grad school, I realized I could do anything I set my mind to do. I got into grad school because I had worked extremely hard at getting the necessary grades (and getting experience in my field). Same deal with my writing. I'm constantly pushing myself to do better. I'm still hit with self-doubt, but I have great writer friends (from the blogging community)who are always cheering me on.

  4. Joanne says:

    Great story, and congrats on your cheerleading success! Hard work always pays off. I consider small successes as doubt busters. Writing a good chapter, publishing in a lit journal, query requests, that sort of thing, they're all stepping stones along the way.

  5. "Nothing has changed but my attitude" -> YES, love it!!

  6. Oh, I love this post. I was pretty similar as a kid. It just didn't occur to me that I couldn't do things, provided I tried hard enough. That said, I was smart enough to stay away from things that required a stack of physical coordination. Confidence is one thing, klutziness is another!

  7. Wonderful story. Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing it.

    Great CAN DO attitude!

  8. Nice! Confidence is a great thing. It can be easy to have faltering confidence, especially as an adult. I think kids (teens included) often believe they are invincible and can do pretty much whatever they set their minds too. I think it's a great quality to have. 🙂
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  9. Bekah says:

    Good for you! We can't always listen to the people saying we can't

  10. Celeste says:

    I don't know, Janet. You could do an amazing "Running Man" and "Spirit Fingers!" Go Spartan!! (said Spart-Uns)

  11. Great post!!! I was a later cheerleader b/c after not making it in MS, I gave up on it, did drama and other stuff, but after years of dance, I wanted it bad enough that I went back out and finally made it, lol.

    Now after writing this, I realize how this is totally me and the writing game…from getting agented to being on sub. You just gotta believe….not matter how hard it is.

  12. Jen Daiker says:

    Go you!!!! What an awesome accomplishment, and my sisters would have tried to crush me dreams as well!!

    I just take a shot of life and suck it up! Just kidding, I normally wallow in my self doubt, then ask my sweet husband to give me compliments until I get the right one and get back to work 🙂

  13. Janet,
    Good for you! I decided to go out for cheerleading in college when I'd never done it before. My main motivation was that my husband played football and I wanted to travel with the team. HA HA! Well, long story short, I tore my hamstring muscle the first day of "practice" (it was practice for the tryout, so don't get impressed too quickly). I kept going, though, through the whole week, until I visited my aunt that weekend and did my dance. She laughed so hard she rolled off the sofa and lay on the floor gasping. I think that's when it sunk in that cheerleading was not in my future. 🙂

    But I'm proud of you! And I know with that attitude, you will succeed! 🙂


  14. Lynn says:

    What a great story! It is so important to believe in yourself and to have other's believe in YOU. The rose was so such a beautiful touch! I used to write affirmations to get over doubt. I find reading inspirational stories (even one like yours) very helpful too. Thanks!

  15. Aw, great story! And you're right: attitude is everything! Keep on writing, and you will succeed!

  16. I overcome doubt by reading inspirational stories like yours. Thanks for the boost!

  17. ironically i put on a cheerleader costume when i feel doubt, makes me feel so pretty

    kidding by the way…

  18. Lenny Lee! says:

    hi miss janet! that was a real feel good story for sure. i like stories like that cause it gives out lots of hope for getting your dream even if youre the only one that believes in you. now cause you know you could do it you gotta follow that nike commercial and just do it!
    …smiles and hugs from lenny

  19. I think we need to come up with a cheer for writers.

  20. JKB says:

    I read this on my blog follower yesterday, and reread it today.

    HOORAY for determination! YOu can do ANYTHING!

    (and thanks for visiting my blog. You can do that lots too! *hee*)

  21. Ya know, you're so right. I remember when we moved (I was 16) and the guidance counselor at my new school talked me out of taking AP biology because it was so advanced. I thought, "I know my previous school did not have great teachers, even though the biology class was really good. I guess I'll have to pass on AP Bio." And I backed down. He tried to convince me I wouldn't be able to make Concert Choir, either. I told him to let me audition. Made it. No problem. Why didn't I go back and insist on being allowed into AP Bio? Despite my confidence in my musical ability, I had very little self-confidence anywhere else. I've had to work so hard to build it up in writing, but then, I had to sing a lot, too. Maybe it's that process that gives of self-confidence. Great post.

  22. MikeS says:

    What is this "doubt" thing you speak of?

  23. Heidi says:

    Aww–that's very inspiring. I never even tried out for cheerleading because I wasn't popular. Good for you!

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