Waking up before 7:00, I believed this was going to be a good day. I had confidence as I practically skipped down the stairs. If I could survive my first one-on-one interview with a driver, then I could conquer anything.
The ride over was normal, as we blasted Eric Church to keep the good vibes going. I was replaying day one in my head, including the crazy part where Marty Smith tweeted me, saying I had a bright future. He also gave me some helpful advice. If anyone was on top of the world, it was me.
Nothing could bring me down.
I went to my first tweet up, held by Pippa Mann and Glass Hammer Racing. She had name tags for everyone and was very sweet. As I assumed, she was just full of energy. I saw her later in the day with a group of people following her around as she talked. She probably never slowed, either.
Crossing the Goodyear bridge and heading out of the infield, we went back to a heavy-aired Media Center. Another press conference. This time, it was for AJ Foyt’s team to announce their driver for the 2013 Indy 500. There was a big smile that grew on my face; one more first, being in a room with a racing legend.
As I sat my notebook on my lap, I felt the room shift. Tension. My heartbeat almost flattened. It was like every eye was on me. Glancing around, I was right; many were catching glimpses of me, then whispering to someone else. My mom shook her head when I wondered if they were staring. All my confidence flew out the Media Center door as the press conference began. Scratching a few quotes down, I couldn’t focus. The two times I did look up, I connected eyes directly with Mr. Foyt himself. I suddenly shrunk into my seat.
I didn’t belong there. It’s not a teenage girl’s prerogative to be in a high-end affair like that media event. This was being covered by SPEED, the camera man tucked into the corner by the door with Robin Miller himself. With all the talent cooking in that room, where did I stand? Shriveled up like a burn piece of bacon? Or was I that piece of green garnishing that was pretty much useless? I felt like I was taking up space, filling a void that was meant to be left opened. Small. Unimportant.
This small town girl wanted to leave, as bad as that truly sounded. As the photographers snapped moments, I stuffed my notepad into my purse, backside up, and went for my phone.
On the back of my notebook was Marty Smith’s quote, jumping into the foreground. I silently read it to myself.
Don’t lose that passion for writing. It will take you far. Folks will try to strip it. Don’t let them.
Throughout the rest of the day, it was in my head, like a bouncy ball thrown into a room, jumping from every usable surface. I sought out drivers for some of my followers, caught up with some Twitter peeps, and was embarrassed by my mother on multiple occasions. It wasn’t as crazy as the first day because everyone was much more busy.
On the drive home, I contemplated a lot. This was an opportunity of a lifetime, to stand out and show how driven I am. However, my confidence had withered to the size of a dried up pea. Though people say I have loads of self-confidence, it turns out to be my acting skills coming through again. The personal high I was on came down quick, and slamming into the earth was harder than expected.
Although it’s better to feel small instead of carrying a huge ego, having zero pride is tough. I love what I do, and, if I wasn’t decent at it, I wouldn’t have readers. There’s a personal balance beam I’m walking on, and I feel like I’m about to fall off any second. Arms out, trying to recover, but the unseen force of gravity, the unseen force of disapproving media members, keeps yanking at my entire body.
I care way too much about what others think. As a teenage girl, it’s my human nature. As a professional sports writer, it’ll be my character flaw.
Then, I think of Marty’s quote. And I grin.
If nobody else will believe in me, I will. But starting clear back at Square One never helps the confidence. Time to step up to the plate, I guess.
Tomorrow’s the big stuff. The actual race. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be spammed with pictures and tweets from the Media Center.
Whether the people want me there or not.