Confidence breeds success in college

Column by Natalie Glover

Last week, I came very close to quitting the Kernel altogether. After a moderate effort of trying to think of column topics and coming up empty-handed, I figured that if I didn’t have anything to say, I may as well just not write anymore and focus on graduate school. But it wasn’t so much that I had nothing worthwhile to say, it was that I lacked the confidence that others would find it so.

Then I realized I didn’t care. If I really believe (and I do) that One carpenter of a deity bled and died on a tree so that you could know what real love is, you better believe that I will let this shine through in the school newspaper. What could be more important than that? And as for the more conventional topics, I’ll leave those to the people who are passionate about them.

All that being said, I would like to encourage you, as you begin the academic marathon that is this semester, to do whatever it is you do boldly and with confidence.

Before I go too far, I’d like to appeal to my inner-philosopher and define my terms. If we look at the roots of the word ‘confidence,’ we find that it includes con (with) and fidence (fidelity). It’s not about thinking you’re hot stuff, but being true to yourself. So many people think that to be successful, they must pattern themselves after some sort of prototype, and this is so untrue.

I attended a party on Friday night, to which my best friend wore a blue A-length dress with polka dots on it, and she looked amazing. Why? Because she didn’t see it on her friends or in the latest issue of Vogue. It was something she liked because it appealed to her, because it was different, and she wore it well.

I have another best friend who spends a great deal of time studying to be an actuary. To the skepticism and sometimes downright bewilderment of others, he spends days on end studying numbers and figures while others do more normal things like sleep. Each test he passes gets him closer to his goal, and he will most likely get there. Not because he is intelligent, but because he decided to make the sacrifices necessary.

I am reminded still of an author I know. He has three PhDs, 50 published books and tenure at a well-known university. Much to my surprise, he was put in the ‘slow class’ in elementary school. Most of his teachers thought he didn’t have much potential until one came along who told him that he wasn’t as stupid as he thought he was. She gave him a Robert Frost poem to read and write about, and he grew to not only have a love for Frost’s work, but to write a biography on the man. This, of course, was well after he got accepted into Dartmouth.

There is no telling what you can do if you stop listening to the people who tell you that you can’t: the parents who scoff at you for wanting to practice music instead of medicine; the friends who tell you you’re stuck up because you have more ambition in your pinky than they do in their entire body; the classmate who boasts that he did better on an exam than you did.

If this sounds like you, or there’s anyone else (including yourself) telling you lies like this, please disregard them and pursue your dreams. Failure is not a crime, and you can be sure you will encounter some of it along the way. But you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving 110 percent. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t valedictorian in high school or if people look down on you for being from eastern Kentucky. Forget them. Jesus Christ was born in a feeding trough.

As you go on about your day, and your life, remember Marianne Williamson’s words:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”