Confidence. Is it really an achievable state of mind? It’s been a question I’ve been asking myself quite a bit over the last few weeks, and I now feel (ironically) confident enough to divulge my current worrier-state publicly.
Where my head’s at
Since becoming my own boss, I feel like I’ve gone through a few mental states. The first: over-commitment. I wanted to start off full-time blogging with a bang, and I exhausted myself by working 10+ hours per day, and forgetting to have weekends.
The second: relief. There’s an immediately noticeable change of pressure when I’ve achieved my goals for the month, from organising my content calendar, to achieving my financial predictions. At the end of the day, I’m aiming to preserve my current lifestyle and that takes a certain amount of money and therefore rigour every day.
Third: worry. I never think of myself as a worrier, but having had it confirmed by a few third-parties (not to name names…) I do let myself get trapped in fearful scenarios. Now that I work for myself, I worry that I’m falling behind with society – whether that’s working at different times than the usual 9-to-5, or not being in the conventional office, there’s a definite cut-off feeling. I also worry that I’ll have to move away from London – and at the same time, I hope to do so at some point. And my other worry is that I’ve gained weight – which comes from throwing myself into work rather than fitness – and yet my body confidence changes day-to-day.
What is confidence to you?
The awful cycle of low-confidence is that you end up feeling low about feeling low. I spent a lot of time looking at other beautiful people – both online and in my local area of London – and I would catch myself wondering why I can’t have their easy life, their endless money, their plentiful free-time. It strikes me now that I’d make massive assumptions about other people’s wellbeing and confidence by simply observing their actions. And that’s so, so wrong.
The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.” Similarly, self-confidence comes from achieving that feeling independently. I think it’s important to make the distinction that confidence isn’t something you just have or you don’t – it’s unstable, it comes in waves, and it doesn’t encompass everything, ever.
It’s a hard lesson to learn: nothing will ever be perfect. It’s simply another thing to juggle and maintain, never 100% in the game of life. But there’s a glimmer of hope in that…
Say it out loud
My light-bulb moment came from a pep-talk a close friend gave to me, just a few days ago. We were sat in a park, and a girl walked past in a gorgeous beanie hat, ankle-grazer trousers, sneakers.
“I wish I could pull that outfit off,” I muttered to my friend, who then abruptly scooted round on the bench we were sat on and asked me pointedly, “Why couldn’t you?”
In my head, I began reeling through the various reasons, from my height to my style, to my bank account to this new podgy part of my belly that I’ve taken a real disliking to. And yet I couldn’t say any one of these reasons out loud… Because I knew they weren’t real reasons at all.
Sometimes, it takes sharing a fear or a doubt with someone to see how insignificant it really is – and that it’s not holding you back at all. As if with a poof of smoke, I realised I was holding myself back by piling meaningless worry upon meaningless worry. I was carrying so many worries that the answer was to simply stop worrying.
No, we can’t be perfect, but if there’s something you don’t like, worrying won’t help. Real confidence comes from believing you can achieve something, and taking steps to make that happen.
Act like you mean it
Confidence isn’t that wide smile on the lips of a girl who’s just spotted her boyfriend. It’s not the ability to go to a bar alone and strike up a conversation. And it’s certainly not born from being able to put on a certain set of clothes in the morning.
Confidence is having true conviction in your actions, however small they may be. It’s about believing what you’re doing is right and true, even if you’re not the best in your field. You don’t have to be – because no-one else does all the things you do in the way that you do them. And that makes you perfect as you are.
I hope this post helps to pep you up if you came here looking for answers. I also hope it isn’t overly emotional or a jumbled mess, but I needed to share my new-found confidence: I love what I do, and I know by continuing, I’ll get better and better too.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: there’s always a certain pressure to “be the best” in our society, but really I think it should be “do your best” and the rest will fall into place.