Over the weekend I flagged the USAC .25 midget series race in West Liberty, Ohio. The days were long, in fact Saturday proved to be a 15 hour day at the track, but each minute of that day was worth it. On Saturday there was, and I'm out of touch in regards to talk like this, a scare that the world was going to end. It didn't, I believe, end, but had it there is no other place that I would rather have been.
I truly wish you could see the difference in the way I handle these races now. This was only my 7th ever oval race and while I guess I did a great job at the first few I did I was unsure of myself. I made no decisions on my own and I won't bore you as to the small details that go into a race, but I had no confidence; well, maybe confidence isn't the right word. I didn't know what exactly was expected therefore I was watching and learning what exactly was the procedure on anything and everything. In July when the Battle at the Brickyard race comes up I'll talk about the then & now aspects, but this story, today, has a different plot.
So yes, my confidence is up, and with this comes the ability to talk more. The two go together and maybe this is when I was not so confident I was so afraid of making any possible mistake that I avoided talking at all costs. Around the USAC staff now though my true personality is starting to make its appearance.
As I said, Saturday was a long day. My muscles ached and my mental capacity was pushed to its limit, but I was still in an amazingly cheery mood. And why not? I was working a race and the world didn't end. Win/win, right?
Having limited eating options we stopped at a Waffle House. James, the director of the series, made reference to the fact that I wasn't as loyal as he hoped regarding my choice to go to Huddle House. This is where confidence in myself in the race environment is huge. Say this line was said in my first race, or maybe second, and I would have probably frozen in a response, but on Saturday I said something that made somewhat of sense. I don't know how I responded, exactly, but I know I didn't come up blank.
As the meal progressed the conversation and banter from the six of us on the barstools at Waffle House didn't ebb at all. I noticed an odd thing in that I was smiling uncontrollably. This happens from time to time, but very rarely when others are around. As I noticed this another humorous line was said and I lost it and went into one of my laughing fits that gets to the point that it hurts and oxygen becomes in short supply.
I'm not sure if I could ever paint with words the scene at that Waffle House. I felt like anyone else would, I think, at any other point in time. Is this feeling accepted? I still miss some jokes and still am the worldly naive one, but that's okay. I must say though that this took time! This didn't happen overnight. This has taken seven entire race weekends spread across 10 months.
Is there a connection between my confidence on the flagstand and my openness in opening up? I firmly believe so. Now that I am not worried about screwing up every second of the day I am less tense. In fact, I opened up to the point in sharing with James the worst idea of all time. Being in the elements all day one's mind tends to have random thoughts and this random thought is truly a horrible idea. What is it? It's so bad I don't want it to fall into the wrong hands, but James did say that it was, "The dumbest idea ever!"
As I look back at where I was as a person one year ago I can't believe the progress in myself. Again, is this due to confidence? Again, I say "yes" firmly. From traveling around presenting, and now the country flagging, I know what I am good at and I am blessed that I am allowed to do both.
While I may talk about growth and while I may talk about the bliss of doing what I love, what I loved most over this past weekend was the time spent in that Waffle House. There was no "Positional Warfare" and there was no social anxiety. All there was me being able to be me without a second thought.