Janet Sumner Johnson
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25, 2010 |

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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?

Speak up:



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