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The First Time

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Growing up, I didn't really feel a strong sense of identity or self-worth. In fact, I was a bit apathetic about life in general. (More about this is in my new book.)

Yes, there were things I enjoyed doing as a child and teenager, but I was often content to let someone else go ahead of me, or if I was told "no", I accepted it and never really fought for what I wanted


It was time for try-outs for the drill (dance) team leadership in high school. The top position was Major, then after that was 1st and 2nd Captain, then 1st and 2nd Lieutenant. The Major wore a white uniform while everyone else's was blue.

The "top contender" for Major had a signature move of going into a handstand straight down into a front split. The first time she did it we all went crazy! It was amazing! She was amazing! One day in English class, she turned around and asked me if I was trying out for "Officer". I said, "Maybe. I don't know..." with a shrug. I mean... I thought I was a pretty good dancer, but so were many of the other girls. Moreover, honestly, I was afraid to dream that "big". She proceeded to encourage me and tell me that I should try-out and that she thought I was a good dancer. Wow! Coming from her that was a "major" compliment! (pun intended) And I thought for one moment, maybe... maybe I was good enough.

Then, with the innocence and excitement of all her 16 years, she showed me a piece of paper with her idea of the Officer roster. She exclaimed, "You and (your best friend) could be 1st and 2nd Captains, and (two other girls) could be Lieutenants!

It was at that moment that I felt this feeling for the first time... DETERMINATION (and a little offense! lol!) How dare she assume that no one else had a chance at Major...even if that's how most of us felt. ;)

There were 3 factors to the audition process of becoming Major - a dance audition, choreography ability, and teaching ability. I knew I probably couldn't beat that signature move, but what I could do was choreograph and teach!

Through the process of audition week, my determination to win became less about her and more about me. I felt proud of myself for entering the competition in the first place. I began to wonder if I applied myself and gave it my all... could I win? And if I didn't, how would I feel? I resolved that I would be fine if I didn't win... but I would feel pretty bad if I didn't try.

Well, I gave it my all.

Guess who ended up with the white uniform...


Life will give us glimpses of what's on the inside of us; providing challenging situations that cause us to reach inside and emerge with courage, strength, faith, and determination. The scriptures record in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose. This situation revealed to me that I can be determined; that there is a "fight" in me. It just took the right trigger to bring it forth. It also taught me that my "real competition" was myself. It was then and still is today.

That's the case with most of us. Our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves can have the biggest impact on our lives. Whether those thoughts originated with you or from someone else, you must recognize the ones that do not serve you in order to break through and move forward.

While I felt a little sad for the "top contender", I knew that we were both learning valuable lessons. Hers, a little more humility, mine, a little more faith in myself.

When I see that girl in the white uniform, I think about what's on the inside of her. I think about the determination it took to accomplish an unspoken dream. It reminds me today that I can still do whatever I put my mind to... and guess what? So can YOU!

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