Confidence is a funny thing.
When I tell people I struggle with confidence. They look at me like I’m a crazy person. I like to think I’m a pretty transparent person these days so for people who have known me for years and think “how can she not be confident?” She posts everything about her life.
Truth is, I also question everything I say, do, wear… everything. Why? Because I care about what you think about me.
- I care if I’m liked.
- I care if you think I’m smart.
- I care if you like my outfit.
- I care if you think I’m a good person.
I’d like to pretend that I didn’t. But I want to be accepted. Now I realize this is going to be an ongoing battle. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people in my life who have blocked me on social media, unfriended me or even talked poorly behind my back.
It happens. I won’t fit everyone’s lofty expectations of me. KNowing this truth sucks. Because who would honestly choose to not be liked. Um… no one. So the reality of this hurts me.
It makes me question myself every time I do my hair, put an outfit together or wear false eyelashes… (like everyday)
Can I tell you something? Even though I question myself, I still try and stay true to me, why?
Because trying to fit in everyone’s box is exhausting. You know whats even crazier… I have no clue what everyone expects of me. I can make assumptions, but at the end of the day… I will always fall short. And that is why I struggle with confidence.
When I danced in the NFL, I had to fit the mold of what the team “needed”. There would never be an official “need” but lets be honest, how is it that the top 28 women chosen just so happened to fit every racial profile in the area. Sure it looked like a lot of blondes, but when you compare year to year, there was a quota.
Don’t quote me on it, I was obviously not in the decision making room, but after 9 years of auditioning and 6 seasons making the cut… You start to see a pattern. Just me observation.
Any way, at the beginning of every season we had our “CG Look Consultation”. This is where the directors would “make suggestions” on what they would like to see you. If they suggested red-head, you were a red-head. If they asked if you were willing to go blonder, you went blonder.
I was never forced to do anything but there was definitely an expectation. I respected the uniform and the organization and all of the women that came before me enough to “look the part”.
I honestly loved it. Imagine having someone basically telling you that you would look amazing as (fill-in-the-blank). I didn’t have to think about much when it came to my appearance.
Post cheering days, I felt free to DO whatever I wanted with my hair, my nails, my makeup… I was free from signed “look agreements”. But guess what? I did nothing to change my look… for 7 years.
I was scared I wouldn’t look good. I had truly lost my identity and confidence to just be Ashley. I was now, Ashley the former CG. So I felt I needed to live up to your expectation of a former NFL cheerleader. So I continued to look the part.
For most of my adult life, I had to look the part for some role. I was 18 when I first made the team, and spent the next 9 years fitting the mold. When I stopped cheering, who was Ashley???
It took me 7+ years to break up with that girl. The girl who looks like she could walk back into auditions and make the team. The girl who wanted to live up to expectations. The girl who wanted to please you.
Now almost 9 years removed from that scene I realize the loss (and the gain) I’ve had with that experience. It took me awhile to figure out who Ashley was but these days, my mind isn’t consumed with YOUR expectations. Today its simply filled with love and acceptance of who I am AND who I am becoming.
Sure I still want to feel accepted. And yes do I believe you are who you hang out with. And yes will I still care if you’re not happy with me. But nowadays, I respect my own opinion more than the worlds and knowing that, give me all the confidence I need.
- Yes I rock eyelashes most days.
- Yes I don’t wash or brush my hair daily.
- Yes I wear jeans and a Tshirt with tennis shoes daily.
- Yes I sometimes eat junk food.
- Yes I miss workouts here and there.
Accept me, don’t accept me. I can’t control your thoughts or your feelings about what I choose to do. But know this, regardless of your feelings towards me I will always do what I feel is best for myself and my family and friends.