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A Quiet Strength

I was thinking about confidence the other day. I used to believe that it only looked one way. Bold and loud. Like if a woman was "confident," she wore red lipstick. Or high and uncomfortable heels. Like the ones with the spike type of heel. Not sure why but this is what I thought confidence looked like as a young girl. Once upon a time, I worked at a coffee shop called "Sojourner's" which was located in a beautiful old building in downtown Valdosta. It was a beauty! My friend, Carson, probably remembers that coffee shop. This was long before she and I even knew what a Starbucks was. It was there, in that coffee shop, where I witnessed just how quiet confidence could be.

I met a lady at work one day. She came in for her creme brulee latte frequently. I like her style. Maybe she shopped at J.Crew? Her baby pink cardigan was pretty. She did not blend in with other people. Usually, in the afternoons, I waited on the few customers seated inside. One day that same lady walked in and said, "Hello. Um, what is your name? You look familiar." I glanced away quickly. "My name is Felicia ma'am." Shyness came over me. "Not sure where you may know me from, either." I didn't make much eye contact with her because she was beautiful! I immediately felt intimidated. She said, "Well Felicia, you ought to smile more. Do you know that you are beautiful? And with those big brown eyes were created to look, young lady. Not down." I couldn't help but look her in her eyes; she had my attention. I stood there. Perplexed. I was in complete awe. What had just happened? Was she talking to me? When I returned to my dorm, I thought about what happened at work. That encounter was a first. This marked the very first time a strikingly beautiful black woman (that was not a relative) was kind to me. I felt some sort of emotion I had never felt. Seen.

That night, I told myself I was beautiful. And the next morning, I smiled when I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. I was empowered. And I felt good inside. I soon learned that this incredible woman was a brilliant Communications professor at Valdosta State University. I would eventually become one of her students. Not once did she announce that she knew she was beautiful, smart, and capable. She wasn't that kind of lady. Oh, but every time I was in her presence, I clearly could hear her quiet confidence. She knew she was extraordinary; in fact, she owned it. Without ever saying a word. I had a full-circle moment; when I read her words in a letter of recommendation that she drafted on my behalf for a job opportunity. It said, "It is with great humility that I recommend Felicia Williams for this role. She always tells me that I am her role model; however, what she doesn't know is that she inspires me to be the best me that I can be. I have never met anyone like Felicia, and I got a feeling I never will." All I could do was smile.

So sis, what does confidence look like to you?



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