Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Learning the art of confidence

Twenty-five years ago I was throwing down shots of Gray Goose vodka, helping to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Glendale Community College. Since it was a rather hoity-toity affair, I borrowed a suit, bought a tie and ironed a shirt. In those days I cleaned up pretty good.

Other than being there to drink and humiliate one’s self, there was little for a single guy to do. All the women present were with escorts. But about an hour into the evening, every head began to turn. There, at the entrance of the ballroom, stood Cinderella.

Coach Mack seemed to lose his voice when he whispered, “Whoooo is that?” Valerie, from the dance program, remarked, “Now, there is a confident woman!”

I asked Valerie what she meant. She gave me the Reader’s Digest version: “It takes a confident woman to attend such a formal event without an escort.”

Cinderella gracefully weaved through the tables. She was dressed to kill. Immediately, servers carrying trays of red, white and bubbly surrounded her.

Confidence comes through in the way we walk, the words we speak and the things we believe. It makes us beautiful and amps up our shine. Most importantly, confidence drives us to discover and affirm what makes us unique and fabulous. If anyone ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

I watched her and realized that a confident woman is an aphrodisiac.

Cinderella grabbed a glass of white. I caught her eye, stood up and loudly petitioned, “Kaitzer, come join us.”

Every one looked at me as though I had won the lottery. I had!

She smiled and walked toward our table. All my friends asked how I knew her. I answered, “It’s great to be Dr. Joe.” My stock went up 100%.

Last week, La Cañada High School celebrated Homecoming. The occasion brings parade, rally and football game, culminated by the Homecoming dance.

Boys contrive ways to ask girls to go to the dance with them. Maybe an invitation should be as simple as, “Want to go to the dance?”

Our daughter, Simone, and her friends, initially hesitant to attend the dance, decided to go it alone. Eight freshman girls gathered at our house the evening of the big event. They were dressed to the nines, flowers and all. They had dinner, talked, laughed, took pictures, and experienced the joy of getting ready together.

The girls were learning a valuable lesson that one day will pay dividends. When you’re a beautiful person on the inside, there is nothing in the world that can change that about you. Jealousy is the result of one’s lack of self-confidence, self-worth and self-acceptance. The lesson: If you can’t accept yourself, then certainly no one else will.

I like to think the girls were defining their identity. They were not encumbered with having to go with a boy, or wait for one to ask.

I’m a guy, so I had a hard time seeing the magic. Consequently I asked Kaitzer for some help.

“Confidence is not an accessory that you wear,” my wife said. “It has to be part of your skin. Confidence is part of your being, which girls develop from succeeding in such experiences as going to the dance without a boy.”

She added, “This is what a mother should teach.”

I finally got it! Girls should plant their own garden and decorate their own beings instead of waiting for someone to bring them flowers.

I had to go back 25 years to understand the alchemy of the 60th anniversary of GCC. That evening Kaitzer impressed me. She impressed everyone. It was more than her physicality; it was her confidence. That was the attraction. That’s why the heads turned.

At the end of that long-ago evening, Kaitzer needed a ride home. I immediately volunteered.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at Visit his website at

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