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Boost your confidence using a PowerUp Moment

2001 was a terrible year.

Terrorists targeted and bombed the Twin Towers in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington DC, killing and injuring thousands in the vicinity, forever changing the course of our history books.

I lost my favourite cousin in a horrendous accident – it was a tragedy on so many fronts that it still renders me emotional to think about it.

And I almost died.

Here’s the story.

It was a midday in November, my second year at Uni. I had come off an all-nighter cramming stint for my final Economics paper, which I was to write that afternoon. My elder cousin, whose family I lived with while at Uni, had offered to drop me off at the examination venue and we were on our way, waiting to turn right at the junction to get onto the highway. The traffic light transitioned from amber to red, and when an oncoming vehicle stopped to allow us to proceed, we did so by idling forward before starting to take-off. I was present but pre-occupied with theories and frameworks, playing the recall game (asking a question and answering it too) as a final prep, when I was jolted back into the reality playing out in front of me: a mini-truck had shot the red light and was hurtling at speed towards us!

The crash was thundering as brakes and tyres squealed on the tarmac, and our car spun a few times. I remember swaying like a rag doll, side-to-side, front and back, with my head lolling even though my body was strapped back into the seat. Finally, we stopped spinning (or maybe it was my head) and I cracked open my eyes to see my cousin, dazed and in shock, peering over me and calling my name. Was I ok? I didn’t know, I could think, that was surely a good sign?

Could I remove the seatbelt? My fingers fumbled and I couldn’t, so my cousin assisted. My passenger door was squeezed in tight next to me, forcing me to clamber out through the driver’s door. I was shaking, in shock, taking in the scene around me – smashed car, smashed glass, a few tow trucks already approaching us to assist, and the mini-truck driver parked nearby with my cousin shouting at him.

A whole other set of thoughts were running through my head – we had to call my uncle (it was his car) and look at the car! (gulp, a wreck!) and there were so many bystanders, so embarrassing! and I needed to write my exam! That’s when I started shaking again…furious. My exam – I had prepped so hard that I couldn’t not write it. I kept babbling this to my cousin, that I needed to go, time was slipping by and I would miss the exam. Suddenly, the cops were on the scene too, asking questions about our wellbeing and details of the accident, making notes and trying to co-ordinate the traffic flow around us. And all I could keep saying was that I was fine (with a slight headache) and needed to write the exam.

The cops must have felt pity for me, and my cousin could probably see my rising panic. A plan was organised which resulted in me being driven to the exam venue in the cop van, sirens blaring and breaking speed limits as we tore down the highway to reach the venue in 10 minutes (5 mins ahead of the exam start time). In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the safest thing to have done on a number of fronts, but I clearly had a one-track mind at the time. I wanted to write and even if I failed, at least I showed up.

That seemed really important to me, at that time. I literally ran into the building and was one of the last few to plonk into the allotted seat to write. By then my head was throbbing. The time passed like a blur and before long the bell heralded the end of the exam.

I was sure I had failed.

Pain and tenderness in my back and neck washed over me, and when my friends gathered round me, asking why I had come rushing in looking so bewildered, I winced as I relayed the incident until my lift arrived to return me to my uncle’s house.

To my horror, I found out that the car was completely written off and that I should not have survived because the airbags didn’t deploy on impact (I have since avoided that particular car brand like the plague). Furthermore, the door was so smashed in that I should have been crushed. Instead I walked out alive with whiplash and a mild concussion, only because my reflexes kicked in before the impact. It was a miracle. And I felt blessed to be alive.

And guess what? I achieved a distinction on my Economics paper. The trauma had clearly increased my adrenaline and heightened my brain response systems to the extent that my memory recall was enhanced when I needed it. Or maybe I just crammed very well for that exam paper.

I am often asked how do you seem so fearless and brave?” when I charge ahead doing things that others are scared or doubtful to action or voice, things that I am told are out of my reach. It is this pivotal moment that changed the way I approach my life since. In a split second I almost died at age 19.  Nineteen years later, and I have done a lot. And there is still so much more to be done!

How can you dig deep and muster up your courage, confidence and determination to act and respond? I’ve found a wonderful way that I like to call my PowerUp Moment. It is something that can drive and sustain tenacity even in the face of your own fears. My story in this article is just one such Moment, there are a few in my arsenal. This particular one I reserve for the most challenging of tasks. Why? Because this memory brings back a flood of emotions and I’ve had to learn to channel the precise one to get the desired results.

Your PowerUp Moment is a powerful memory that you recall which temporarily alters your state of mind to be most productive when you need it. It can be a difficult or inspiring memory that you visualise in all its authenticity – the place, the smell, the sounds, how you felt in that moment. When you step into that moment, you can then access those powerful emotions you felt then, to undertake your present task with determination. The idea behind this is to work around your fear, by overriding it with your previous experience of success and confidence.

If you think back, I am sure you can already come up with at least one PowerUp Moment that shoots the lights out from a confidence perspective. Hold onto that the next time you’re feeling less than adequate.

You’re not, you just need a confidence boost to get you going.

Continue to #FindYourPrerna every day. Be bold. Be brave.

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