I want to be completely transparent with you guys. I have always struggled with confidence. Most days my hair is a mess, I probably sound like a crazy person, and my teammates laugh when my southern accent comes out. I’m far from perfect, but the truth is no one else is either. No matter if it was in school, an FFA event, or even starting a new job I was always nervous. It would take almost anything in me to go up and talk to a new group of people, walk in that contest room and give that speech, or talk to my boss. I wasn’t confident in myself. Even when running for State Office, I wish I had a dollar for every time my face turned bright red, my heart rate increased, or I started to have shakes. I wasn’t confident in myself.
Throughout this year, a lot has changed for me. Moving 2 hours away from my family, losing my Pappy, and a lot of little moments that didn’t go quite right. Not feeling good enough compared to my teammates, and certainly not comparable to any reflection, speech, or memory they could give. I wasn’t confident in myself.
This feeling started to change for me during the last half of my year. I was so fortunate to travel to Districts 10 & 11 during FFA Week in February. When I started my first visit at Seymour, I walked in feeling myself and confident as could be. Then that continued at Crothersville, the State House, Seymour’s Degree Ceremony, Tecumseh, Lanesville, North Harrison, West Washington, Northeast Dubois, and Heritage Hills. This week of traveling allowed me to find my confidence. It was my absolute privilege to visit these areas and meet so many awesome members. One memory that also sticks out was facilitating at the Purdue Women in Ag Conference. I got to help over 120 young women find their passion for agriculture and address struggles and how to overcome them. I truly believe that I changed lives that day, because my life certainly changed that day as well.
Now we are hitting banquet season and my confidence has sprung back into action. My first banquet was Monrovia, then I gave my keynote speech at Owen Valley, and rounded out for now with Lanesville. Although I had my small mistakes, I walked into each of those banquets with a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am confident in myself.
It is so very hard to find confidence amidst so much chaos. We often have so many things spinning around at once that we don’t remember to credit how we feel. It wasn’t until I went out and discovered who I was, that I felt confident. No matter what you’re going through right now, you can find confidence. My best advice is to truly be yourself and don’t change for anyone or anything. For me, that means skating with a granny walker the whole time at the Columbia City skating party, and being so proud of myself. It means trying new things and erasing my mindset on why I thought I shouldn’t. And that makes me the best version of myself. I can’t change myself and expect to be even more confident. Because amidst the chaos, once I learned who I was there was a weight lifted off my shoulders.
What the world needs is the best version of yourself that you can be. For me that meant laughing, making jokes, and feeling ok if I made a mistake. For you that might mean saying what you’re thinking, finding your people, or simply believing in yourself. Throughout all of the chaos in life, I encourage you to keep reaching and finding your confidence.
Skating with a Granny walker,
Gracie LeeState Reporter 2022-2023