Tag Archives: confidence

The Confidence Quotient

While I’m not exactly sure why I stopped writing, I am certainly worse for it – and I do not mean my Klout score.

I’d like to claim that line from the movie Contagion where the dad-from-Six Feet Under called blogs “graffiti with punctuation” chastened me or that sitting ten feet from the bureau chief of Chicago’s NYT editorial team has intimidated me.

The truth, however, is that I’m just in a confidence crisis.  My slightly-neurotic analysis has yielded something like this:

When I was smart, I just wanted to be pretty.
When I was pretty, I just wanted to be loved.
I know now that I am neither smart nor pretty, but am miraculously and unquestionably loved.

My simple mind isn’t processing this well.

Further, what’s love got to do with it?

I’m talking about SELF-confidence.  Belief in oneself apparently has nothing to do with how other people view you.  But lack of it sure makes you vulnerable to the worst opinions others may or may not have.  (You would not believe how far I can take this.)

Shouldn’t truly having self-confidence make you a bit impervious to outside forces?  Is it not your own invisibility cloak when the ghost of crappy economy haunts you?  Or the shield against the morally bankrupt thugs who would rob you of your vehicle to success and kick you as they drive away?

I am reminded again of that haunting statement by an interviewer that his dream candidates are single women because they have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.  It made me furious then, but merely more self-conscious now.

Writing, like any art, is about sharing your impression of the life that surrounds you.  And since we are all the hero of our own drama, everyone’s impression is unique to their storyline.

What has risen up as a monumental roadblock is the nagging disbelief that my storyline matters.

I think self-confidence is the elephant in every woman’s mental room of her own.
And my elephant has taken to sitting on top of me and crushing the life out.

This isn’t to say that men don’t suffer from a crisis in confidence.  I’m sure they do.  But overwhelmingly, I have noticed that women (including me) get derailed by circumstances beyond their control and then struggle to compartmentalize a sucky situation so they can get back to being awesome.

I had a fantastic conversation this week with someone who wanted ME as a mentor.  [If that doesn’t boost confidence, what on earth will?]  Listening to her story and her self-doubt felt very raw.  In the beginning of the conversation, my nag was reciting “blind leading the blind” over and over… but when I stopped thinking about poor me and what an unimpressive loser I’ve turned out to be, I felt my indignation rise on her behalf.

She didn’t embezzle a million dollars, or have an affair with a married supervisor, or punch a client in the face.  [For the record, neither have I – I was just trying to think of things that would, in fact, warrant feeling a little self-loathing.]  Yet she was behaving as if she deserved to be sitting in ashes wearing burlap.

I was a relative stranger and a brand new connection but even I could see that she had something sparkly inside.  And I told her so.

I’ve been inspired by this woman to seek out connections with people who won’t pump me up, who don’t have anything to gain by injecting my ego with steroids.  I’m on a mission to read and subscribe to confidence and positivity bloggers.  I have pulled out my child psych books to learn what I can about building confidence and what plays a role in one’s “confidence quotient.”

So much is determined by it.

Sometimes the mirror your friends and loved ones hold up to you is like a funhouse mirror.  Their investment in your happiness and obvious love throws waves into the truthiness of their feedback.  In my experience, at least, it is rare that someone close can give you raw truth.  Most people shroud feedback in fluffy nonsense rendering any kernel of actionable insight unrecognizable.

I had a high school ‘phriend’ who, while she wouldn’t be seen with me in public thereby reinforcing my leperous sense of self, would write me ridiculous notes about why I shouldn’t think poorly of myself.  These little gems had very little to do with weighty issues but still gave some perspective to the tragic sensibilities of a teenager – things like “You have all your teeth.” and “You do not smell bad.”

While funny in a Dax Shepherd sort of way, this has given me an idea.  I’m thinking about a little project over the next few weeks.   I’m going to emphasize positive things in my life that I can claim credit for as a way of focusing on good and praising my accomplishments as a valuable human, no matter how small.

If Gretchen Rubin can have a Happiness Project, I get to have a confidence one.

I’ll call it The Confidence Quotient – Small Wins or #CQsmallwins.

Who wants to play?

Imposter Child

It’s been almost a month since my last post.  No, I’m not really that busy.  I’ve started and stopped a half dozen posts but always got intimidated by finishing the research, organizing the links or even establishing my position on the topic. 

This is really unlike me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of an all hat, no cattle dreamer.  I LOVE to think of big ideas, get people all excited and then move on to whatever the next thing to catch my attention.  I’m not much of a “sticker.” 

But having an opinion?  Expressing it?

I’ve got that down pat.

Or so I thought.

It has occurred to me over the last few days that I’m suffering from an uncured case of imposter syndrome. 

In college, I reached a little too far.  I remember being corrected by my beau about the proper way to eat soup while out on a date at a fancy restaurant.  I felt constantly unqualified to keep the company I did.  Exposure alone had made my peers cosmopolitan and wise.  I was constantly in fear of being discovered as the simpleton, scholarship kid I was.

Fifteen years later, I find myself engaging with women whose professional accomplishments dwarf my own and I feel the creeping fear of discovery cast a cold shadow.

Maybe not on my interactions with them, but my actions reaching to join them. 

I have been invited to write with a professional blogger.  She’s completed one book and makes her living as a writer.  While I would LOVE to be a part of this project, I feel paralyzed when I think about whether my contribution would actually be worthwhile. 

Another women I’ve known of for years, suggested we meet for lunch.  We share many friends but have never had occasion or commonality to strike our own friendship.  I felt myself apologizing for myself because she is so effortlessly rebellious and cool.  Where I try too hard, she wouldn’t have considered trying worthy of her attention.  Yet, somewhere within the span of our lunch there were some raw honest moments that might grow into a mutual respect.  She too, offered up the idea of collaborating on a writing project.  The boldness of the idea, the nakedness of the truths she proposed we would tell appealed and repelled me equally.  I don’t even know if I’m healed enough to revisit the experiences that would have taught me the lessons I’d share for the project.  Like Forest says of Jenny’s childhood home, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Finally, I discovered a really great potential friend almost by accident.  She’s my peer in years only.  Her career path has been nearly vertical, while mine has strayed from a flatline only to plunge occasionally. 

I’m the first to promote the idea that life, love, and work are not competitions. 

But my weaknesses have been baldly revealed by these new friendships and my self-consciousness makes me pause before proffering my opinion as anything other than the silly musings of a woman trapped by her own limits.

And so I’ve been silent for the last three weeks.

I just thought you should know.