Jan 23, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Growing up, I was the neighborhood tree-climbing champ, which translated well at school to the monkey bars. Confidence, more like showing off. Of course, I got my comeuppance. One afternoon, I was zipping across the indoor monkey bars in the gym. Everyone watched, and one of my fourth-grade classmates said, "She never falls off." Even the gym instructor had moved away, so sure I wouldn't need spotting. But then sweat like baby oil covered my hands, which slid on the painted bars. I boosted up, hoping to re-firm my grip, and fell half on the mat and half off. My left elbow cracked against the gym floor. The liability: eight weeks in a cast. The cost: my pride.

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I got hooked on the action. The illusion of confidence. Las Vegas is a city built on the overconfident and their losses. I helped. The irony of losing the biggest bet of my life was that I wagered against the team my grandfather had laced up his 1924 sneakers to play for. Betting against family history. Basketball is the bouncing heart of the state of Indiana. Especially on the campus of the Indiana Hoosiers.

So there I was at the counter of the Bellagio sportsbook sliding four grand in cash over to the teller. “Gimme Oklahoma minus eight,” I said, certain that the Sooners would cover eight points as the favorite against the Indiana Hoosiers in the 2002 Final Four NCAA Basketball Tournament. From the jump ball on, the game was never close. Papa’s alma mater dominated the overconfident Sooners from start to finish. After that, I gave up on gambling.

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Jan 24, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Confidence is a big subject in my life as a passionate runner of long distances (up to 100 miles), also known as ultra running.

Long before my races, confidence is already a particularly important ingredient in this intense cocktail of emotions:

"Will I be able to complete my training? Will I not get injured or sick? Will the run take place? Are the organizers really serious?

The days leading up to the race are typically characterized by excitement, anticipation, concentration, but also by a loss of confidence: Am I really prepared? Is the course well marked? Will everything go well? What if...?

And then finally the long-awaited day: the heart beats, adrenaline flows through the body and go! Will I make it? Will my body and mind play along?

Without this important ingredient "confidence" I probably could not be this passionate ultra runner.

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Jan 24, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Starting 11th grade, I was on top of the world. I was in the drama club, a political club, a book club, and on the school newspaper. I had all As. The summer I’d dedicated to my passion of modern and ballet. I had a driver’s license and a car at my disposal. An unrequited love signaled his interest. So of course I ran for class president, and won. Then came a classic case of burnout. I quit dance, despite it being the one healthy constant in my life. I guzzled instant espresso to pull all-nighters and could barely keep my eyes open during class. I flunked biology. I suffered terribly over a crush. I hated being class president and abdicated. Friends and teachers helped me through it all, but it would take decades for me to overcome many of the negative habits that reared their head that year.

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Jan 29, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I speak my mind, unabashedly championing others. For myself, however, I retreat, worried my words will be misunderstood, too angry, or that I’ll forget what I want to say and never resolve the issue. It’s why I love acting. I can fully release using someone else’s words and circumstances without self-doubt.

Acting confidence led to scripting a response to a former boss whom I knew would once again verbally and possibly physically harm me. Using my training, I’d stand up for myself. So I set the scene, rehearsing my lines loudly enough so that, in the moment, others might hear and help me.

Then it happened. She stood over me, yelling a tirade that made me shrink. Lost in a thick fog that loudly spun around me, I forced my mind to reach for words I knew were in me. But all I could squeak out was “Stop harassing me.”

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I was asked to play bass and sing back-up with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls on her solo tour back in 2008. My drummer,, from a short lived band in Durham North Carolina, was her drummer and suggested me for the gig. I was honored, nervous and excited. On this month long tour we would be playing live on a huge late night talk show that I now cant remember which. I told all my family and friends.

I practiced daily the 13 songs for the tour, learning the bass parts from over 4 different bassists on 4 of her albums. It was a HUGE endeavor, as I play by ear, and some of the other bassists were way more accomplished in their style of playing than I was. I was stressed beyond belief.

Amy came to practice with the drummer and myself a few times. Amy said everything sounded good and was happy with the sound (even through some of my mistakes).

The week before we were to leave the drummer decided that I wasn't ready and told Amy the same. The drummer called me to tell me that she told Amy I wasn't ready, in her opinion, and that they were going to have someone else play bass/sing on her tour. (the drummers best friend)

I was furious and hung up on her. I crumbled onto the floor, weeping from the release of the stress that had been building up over the past month. My confidence went into the toilet. It took years for me to gain a sense that I was indeed a good player. But still, to this day, I continue to sit on that confident yet not confident see-saw.

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Mar 17, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

When has my confidence been a liability? When it was not confidence, but hubris or impetuousness usually involving lack of clear thinking and preparation. I've gotten pretty good at disguising my anxieties (appearing confident) around taking on unknown places and circumstances. It's taken longer to learn that --aside from regular exercise, mindfulness and prozac-- a good way to abate anxiety around life's uncertainties is to do my homework. To prepare myself the best I can for what new adventure my soul truly seeks. Case in point, don't declare that scuba diving is your next big thing without any further investigation, sign up for a 2- day certification course in Mexico, be dumped over board within hours of learning the basic underwater survival skills, descend 60 feet under the ocean and be surprised when it is the least relaxing and most panic-inducing experience of your life to date. True confidence or "firm trust" is born of knowing one's self, one's strengths, weaknesses, one's predilections, peccadillos, and also applying that same curiosity to the nature of others. Confidence is certainly earned in part through mistakes and missteps, through foolhardy self assurance, but if it is a liability then my guess is that hubris is more the driving force.

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