It must seem ironic to read a blog post about confidence. After all, we (the connected class) already have a wealth of resources at our disposal when it comes to getting support. We’ve got over-eager friends and family, and of course, there’s the internet that gives us access to knowledge and communities to share our ideas, solve our problems, and point us to new directions.
This is a time of empowerment and change. And it really is awesome to live in a time where people left and right are starting new movements, and sharing new philosophies about how we can all make the world a better place. It’s all very inspiring, but, it can get a little noisy - actually, a lot noisy - too.
With all the chaos around us, it’s easy to get stuck. Think about it: You’ve got your own life, with daily tasks and big goals too; but you’re always up against a barrage of social expectations, mass media messages that tell you to be someone you’re not, and sometimes, just really nosy people in your lives. Ever struggled to admit you’re quitting a corporate job to start a sustainable business? Or have you ever decided not to share unpopular opinions about art or politics to avoid arguments?
Social media tells us: We’re great! We can do it! But sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way. Great news: It’s totally valid to feel stuck in that slump!
That’s why we want to discover a little more about confidence in this day and age. If you’re stuck right now (or aren’t, but you know what that feels like), read on!
The Starting Line
To a lot of women, confidence is about making their own decisions, with or without other people’s support.
“Confidence. When your family and friends believe in your capabilities. When people trust you and love you unconditionally!” - Antonieta, 50, public servant, UK
“Confidence means to dress, do, and be what I wanna be without needing recognition from others.” - Janis, 29, online entrepreneur, Malaysia
“Not being self-conscious when you're alone. Being able to sing in public. Even alone. Solo style.” - Ushini, 23, student, New Zealand
Undoubtedly, confidence begins in the mind. We choose to believe in ourselves. We decide that we can be alone but still powerful; or unsure, but still on the right track. This decision is the first step towards being able to live confidently - to chase your personal goals, even if that goal is just to get through the day in one piece. However - we know what you’re thinking - even making that one decision can seem impossible sometimes!
There is always a reason to shrink back from confidence and into insecurity. And unfortunately, things like maturity, resources, or ambition cannot erase that massive roadblock called FEAR. Fear attacks us regardless of age, physical or mental health, or social status.
“As I age I’m starting to realize that I must lack confidence in myself because I always seem to think I shouldn't try things because I'll never succeed.” - ML, 28, Canada
“Life's challenges changed (my) confidence from time to time. On some occasions, I felt negativity with the crowd I was in and therefore, I needed to step back. Break-ups, heart aches made my confidence diminish.” - Antonieta, 50, public servant, UK
The thing about fear is that it comes from so many places. And yes, you know it: Social media is a massive trigger. It shows us other people’s successes and joys. We compare, we get confused, and we retreat.
Play the Long Game
Constant feelings of fear make us question our self-belief not just when we’re starting out, but many times throughout our journey. Living a life filled with confidence in yourself and your work is something you’ll have to decide on again and again every single day. To be honest, it’s hard work.
But if you keep at it like a stubborn itch, we guarantee, it WILL pay off.
We found from talking to the women in our community that over time - sometimes days, but mind you, sometimes years - our self-belief evolves from something easily rattled by fear, into something more firmly rooted in who we truly are, all social signals aside.
“I grew up in a society that taught me confidence was merely being able to show yourself to others. But growing up, I learned that confidence took more than that. Confidence is… to be able to show your true and genuine self.” - Beatrice, 18, student, Philippines
“I used to equate confidence with a certain kind of ballsiness and assertiveness… I think it may also have had something to do with ego or the need for validation. Now it’s not so much about going for the lofty things that I used to think were out of reach. Now it’s also accepting that even (if) I DO NOT get to reach those lofty goals, I am enough. I can face the world squarely in the face and say, ‘Hey, this is me. No apologies. Take it or leave it.’” - Niña, 30s, Chief Communications Officer, Philippines
See what Niña said there? Even if she does NOT achieve certain goals she sets for herself, she refuses to be any less confident. She has decided that showing up to bring her 100% to the table is enough, regardless of results.
It takes a lot of courage to choose your own decisions over other people’s approval. But that’s confidence - being brave enough to accept praise, rejection, and sometimes, even just radio silence. Your personal journey on this earth is about you, your goals, and your decisions. You are not the results of those decisions, nor are you what other people claim you to be.
Still tough? Don’t worry. Social Media won’t tell you this, but this is a long game. Take your time to truly know the difference between what you want, and what is just noise. You will find confidence in choosing things that really resonate with who you are and what you want to contribute to this planet. Choose to embrace your own life and choices, and remember that confidence and courage go hand in hand.