Although I am a devastatingly beautiful Child of God, I haven’t always been this way. Once upon a time, I was a chubby Child of God who looked middle-aged despite being 10 years younger than I am now. Through my ugly duckling-like transformation, I have learned many valuable lessons about life, and people, and trees. Did you know that Dame Judi Dench loves trees? There’s a documentary about it.

One of the tools that I picked up on my travels was confidence. I had always figured that if something needed to be done, it would probably be better to let someone who knew what they were doing handle it. This probably was also influenced by my laziness, but I genuinely did not think that I should be throwing my hat into the ring. Being a leader felt cocky. I’ve always been extra cautious never to appear too confident or arrogant, which is ironic because there has never been an instance where I’ve ever been mistaken for either of them. I have been correctly identified as a self-pitying, self-effacing hermit with low self-esteem, but somehow no one has ever thought me arrogant.

I realized lately that this fear of being viewed as a know-it-all had been hindering me. I had been limiting my ability to bestow greatness unto the world. I first realized that I had something to offer when I was Assistant Stage Manager in college. When we ran out of mini cupcakes for the night, I had the idea of cutting them in half to make extra cupcakes. Several people marveled at my ingenuity. I blinked. Was I a genius? I simply cut a cupcake in half. Not one to miss out on an opportunity, however, I added “Thinking on my feet” to my list of special skills on my resumé.

When I started working full time, I was again surprised at my problem solving skills. I started tackling problems head on, instead of telling my boss there was a problem and then walking away. I ended up becoming someone that people actually asked questions of. Me! Granted, most of the questions were about whether or not our pastries were gluten free, but still! Me!

When I first began writing, I would write these short sketch-like plays filled with jokes that I found funny. People liked the humor, but criticized the lack of structure. So I wrote plays with structure, that looked and sounded like what I saw on tv, with stale sounding dialogue that I felt like I could hear someone say maybe if they were just really standoffish and strange. People told me they liked my humor better. It didn’t occur to me until recently that perhaps I could combine my sense of humor with the structure necessary to tell a story. I thought I had to make my writing become what I saw on TV, instead of learning the proper form and then injecting myself into that form.

As my confidence began to improve, most aspects of my life did as well. I began to think that perhaps my many thoughts that sought to save me from embarrassment were actually holding me back. I started chatting with customers at work instead of shunning eye contact. I started to be vocal and enthusiastic when spotting my buddy at the gym. I stopped lying there immobile like an opossum during sex. And lo and behold, people were responding positively to the new me!

Looking back at my past, I see that I didn’t have a whole lot of agency in my own life. But I decided that instead of getting in my own way and wishing that I could make the changes that I wanted to make, I would just throw caution to the wind and shape my life the way I damn well please. And if I make mistakes, I’ll learn from them and grow. But if I hold back and only give 50% for fear of looking stupid, then I’ll stay exactly where I am while the rest of the world keeps moving.

-Theodore Dandy

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