And so it happened that I tended to surprise people. The teacher who set up high school graduation, convinced that I wouldn't be able to put two words together in front of a crowd, assigned me to give the welcome address (instead of the valedictorian speech, though I had the highest GPA). But, to everyone's surprise, my little speech was funny, and entertaining, and, well, really good.
When I auditioned for The Wizard of Oz in college, I walked up to sing a solo, and the director later told me she was cringing, anxious that I was going to totally embarrass myself. But then I sang, blew everybody away, earned the part of Dorothy. Yet she and so many other people had expected nothing from me. I'm not sure that I expected much more--I just knew I liked to sing.
That's the funny thing about expectations. If I expected myself (or anything or anyone else) to be perfect, I would likely be disappointed. Yet I have been lucky to go through life with people not expecting a great deal from me. Sure, I could have used that as a crutch, but I have grown to use it as a challenge. "Oh, you think I'm nothing?" I say to myself. "Just wait and see."
I just returned from an interview with my husband, one where I was almost as analyzed as he was. I feared I wouldn't do so well, that my nerves would get the better of me and I'd catch foot-in-mouth disease... but then I realized, with a shock, that I was expecting too little from me, that I was dismissing my capabilities. And when I was actually in the thick of things, I did fine. I did better than fine. I was good. And it was easy, maybe even easier than giving that graduation speech, easier than singing onstage. It felt natural. It felt like me.
Even a few years ago, I couldn't have done it. And if anybody had seen me in high school, they never would have expected me to do well, either. I would really surprise them now. But I've grown up a lot since then, and every day I become more and more my genuine, un-shy, beautiful, capable self. And I even sometimes surprise myself.
I guess I've grown a lot from that shy kid with the big glasses. Have you?