The art of being confident comes from a childhood ambition to be a 'go go' dancer | Sue Plunkett
"It's alright for you, you've got loads of confidence."
I've lost count of the number of times I've heard this when I have had to do something.... from walking into a pub on my own or going to interview someone as part of my job.
And I suppose I don't think twice about doing something that many people would be just too nervous to do.
But let me tell you, it comes from a lifetime of what you would call 'character building' scenarios that gave me confidence without even realising it.
Before I set my sights on becoming a journalist, at the age of 10, I fancied a career as a 'go go dancer.'
The defiinition of a 'go go dancer' is someone employed to entertain crowds at a nightclub usually in a skimpy outfit. My parents must have been so proud. My childhood friend's dad still asks me now when I see him if I still want to do that!
It was suggested that maybe acting was a more suitable career choice and the thought of winning a part in one of my favourite childhood shows, like Black Beauty or The Double Deckers, sealed the deal for me.
My mum packed me off to the Milano School of Speech and Drama.... based in the back bedroom of a Burnley council house!
The school principal was called Miss Milne, a tiny but fiercesome and highly intelligent lady, who put me through my paces reading poetry and acting out scenes from plays and novels such as Anne Frank's Diary and Pollyanna.
The one hour weekly sessions, with a class of five other girls my age who visibly lacked my enthusiasm for the subject, I came to dread. They would snigger openly as I stood in front of the class acting out a scene from Black Beauty with Miss Milne shouting out "stand up straight girl."
It was character building in spades and I can still recite today some of the scenes and poems I had to learn by heart.
The classes with Miss Milne brought out a love of acting, and, at the age of 11, I joined Burnley Youth Theatre and won a part in an all female production of a dark and brooding play called The House of Bernarda Alba.
But on the opening night I froze mid way through a monologue I was required to recite. I remember staring into space, unable to speak or move, as the prompt called out the lines to me from the side of the stage. Finally I recovered my composure and was able to carry on.
But it was my first and last appearance with the youth theatre as the following day I was struck down with peritonitis and spent the next month in hospital!
Acting became a hobby, rather than a career ambition, and I joined the now defunct Highcliffe Players in Burnley and also did a bit of acting at college.
And it definitely helped me to build my confidence without even realising it. Plus I had very supportive parents who always used to reassure me that I could do anything in life and achieve my dreams... apart from becoming a 'go go dancer' that is!
Real confidence comes from having self esteem and, although it has been knocked a few times over the years, it usually returns when needed.
And while I may have squirmed with embarrassment while Miss Milne put me though my paces all those years ago, it set me up for life to never be afraid to be myself.