Has Someone Ever Doubted You?
Has someone ever doubted you? Told you something that gave you a pitted feeling in your stomach you never forgot? My challenge for you this week is to use those words, those moments as fuel to prove them wrong.
According to Harvard Business Review, women are not as competitive as men. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the payoff for men in competitive scenarios is usually greater. Second, women are socialized to believe they are less likely to win. I know that’s frustrating to hear so let’s prove them wrong. Using our hardships as fuel in that process can be incredibly powerful. And Amanda Gorman does just that.
“I’m gonna be a mighty king like no king before. Everybody look left, look right, everywhere you look, I’m standing in the spotlight.’ These were the words I repeated to myself as I walked into the LA audition room where a hundred other girls were trying out to be Nala on Broadway New York. The air smelled of Hollywood and desperation. You know, it was crammed with these monster mothers and the savage children. And I remember closing my eyes and feeling I was so close to my dream. In my head, I saw myself loud and proud on a stage in front of a crowd, proving that a girl who’s black and skinny and geeky and had a speech impediment could make it to Broadway.
Finally, after a little bit, they call my number and I walk into the audition room reciting the lyrics, “I-I’m gonna be a-a m-mighty king like no-no king before, I’m w-working on my roar.” And I was waiting there with the other girls. Everyone’s so tense. The monster moms are pushing people out of the way so they can hear and they start listing the names of people who get callbacks. I’m so excited and they haven’t called my name yet and the casting director comes out and says, ‘Thank you everyone for coming, that is all.’ And I remember feeling so broken by what was supposed to be my big break. And my mom came over to me and said, ‘You know, it’s ok. You tried your best. You’re always going to be Nala in my heart.’ And part of me was so glad to know that I would never be, like, one of those girls who made it to Broadway because I would still make it here. I’d still make it to now, being loud and proud in front of a crowd, on a stage, where I know I am a mighty king, mightier than before. I might be working on my roar but look left, look right, here I am tonight, in the spotlight.”
Despite the challenges she has faced, Gorman is still standing in her spotlight, proud, passionate, and even more vibrant than ever before. And like Gorman, Rollins College Valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker is doing the same. Bonker stated in her 2022 commencement,
“God gave you a voice. Use it. And no, the irony of a non-speaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the worth in me, then you can see the worth in everyone you meet.”
Bonker is affected by non-speaking autism and relayed her entire message through text-to-speech technology. She explains her life will be dedicated to helping the “31 million non-speakers with autism…suffering in silence…to giving them voices to choose their own way.”
Inspiring stories like Gorman and Bonker remind us of the blessing of speech and of the power we have sitting within us, waiting to be ignited. Tapping into your competitive side in a healthy way can do just that – it can awaken your superpowers, boost performance, develop character, push our problem solving abilities even further, and ultimately, prove them all wrong.