Recently, I’ve noticed a fair few people remark on how confident I am, or at least appear to be (it was mentioned several times at Blog Camp where I spoke recently, with many asking me how they could become more confident when it comes to going on camera or making their blog their business and I receive a lot of emails on the subject too.
It sometimes and perhaps naively surprises me that something that is now second nature to me, is regarded as something unique, coveted and hard to grasp, or even become.
So I’ve mused it over, and broken it down…
You see, here’s the thing, yes some days I feel confident and on top of the world (usually after 8 hours straight of sleep, which sadly isn’t very often) and others, many other times, I simply don’t.
I lost all my confidence after a traumatic birth with my first child Oliver, I felt lost, lonely, far from family and support I needed, as I tried to navigate the choppy waters of first time parenthood unsure of how I would ever return to my creative (and recognisable) life before baby.
I did, and this blog was a huge part of that, of rediscovering my voice, of carving out a new identity and yes I feel happy and confident most days, but not all.
I suppose, even on those tougher days I present my ‘confident face’ to the world out of practice and probably out of survival. Make up as armour and deep breaths helps. Chin up, they say.
I do though, admit to my husband, mum and close friends when I don’t feel my best or am struggling, it’s important not to feel you have to pretend, but it’s also easy to get trapped in feeling bad about yourself too.
I 100% believe if we behave a certain way, we feel that way too (within reason). Depression, post traumatic stress, times of huge upheaval often needs more than just positive thinking.
Generally speaking though, positivity breeds positivity and working on exercising the happy muscles can truly help.
This works for negativity too, take the mickey and laugh about the bad times, cry when you need to and understand that not everything can be helped with self pep-talks and good humour, and that, that is OK too. Life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows even if Cbeebies would have us believe it is (thank goodness for Cbeebies huh).
…Take PMT time for me, it’s generally the pits, yes yoga and pinning positive affirmations (and saying them to myself) helps a bit but my physical reaction to my hormones at that time of the month usually makes me feel s**** and it can be an utterly rubbish time.
I’l feel down in the dumps, tired, grumpy, frustrated and not forgetting bloated (great for confidence) for the days my body doesn’t feel quite like my own. But I accept it. I realise this is how it is (it is what it is, is a handy saying at this time) and I just try to be kind to myself, generally allowing myself to cry over the Simpsons while eating Kit Kats.
My wise GP actually gave me some advice that’s always stuck with me to simply, ‘accept the feelings I get at this time, not to fight them and know you’re human’…or something like that. She also said to do exercise, eat well and try and nap. Wise words. All of them. Pinnable words even. I’ll get onto that when I finish the blog post.
So, you see, even the most seemingly confident among us have bad days and it’s not just PMT, creatives and creative perfectionists (holds hands up) are usually our own worst enemies, self-critical, wriggled in doubt, unsure of our art, talent, goals…and we just need to cut ourselves some slack. I wrote this post A Creative Life-Pushing Through the Self Doubt that might help there.
Now, let’s focus on the good days and how for the most part, I feel, or at the very least, present confidence out into the world.
Confidence is quite different from being smug or showing off but of course it’s easy to confuse intentions. Don’t allow that to stop you. Yes we’re British and the Americans have mastered it far better than we, but it’s OK, more than OK to feel confident, it’s a vital part of life so allow yourself to feel it, to own it, and embrace it.
Back to the beginning-
I firstly owe my confidence to my parents, they instilled self-belief in my brother and I from a young age, they encouraged us to follow our hearts in the most part (still sad about not going to drama school, Dad), to be ambitious without being stagey jazz hands kind of folks and they made us believe we could quite simply be anything we wanted to be while not feeding our egos. My Mum, a former university lecturer made sure we knew we weren’t THE best but helped us to be the best that we could be.
If your parents didn’t nurture or support your goals, personality, dreams as kids that’s OK, give yourself permission to do that for you, and your own children, right now. My post Be Who You Want to Be is one of my all-time most popular posts and might help you redefine who you are and want to be.
I was a full time filmmaker and now I’m a professional blogger. I, and you can be whomever we want to be.
I was born ambitious I think, the child of highly educated, British Greek Cypriot immigrants (father has a BSc and MBA, mother, a BA, PGCE and MPhil) whose families were mostly teachers and whose work ethic and commitment to academia was both intense and immense.
My Mum likes to remind me that on the first day of learning to play tennis, I asked my teacher how long it would take me to play at Wimbledon. That was me alright.
I get this drive and passion primarily from my Dad, who has a group of successful restaurants in Leeds, an MBE and develops property. A risk taker, big dreamer and committed do-er, he’s crazy-ambitious, even today. He has lots of goals and goes for them, unflinchingly, be it cooking professionally on TV to being voted as having one of the best Greek restaurants in the UK by AA Gill.
He asked me yesterday if he could start a blog, stating if he does he’d like to run the most popular Greek recipe site in the world. Ok Dad, let’s buy a domain name first yeah?!
But you know what it’s wonderful to be ambitious, to want to strive for the best from your job, your life, for your kids, for yourself, to feel intellectually stimulated, financially independent, to meet your creative needs, to feel content, or achieve whatever it is that you yearn. It’s contagious too. Utterly and totally inspiring.
Women are scared to admit they are ambitious or feel good about themselves, and it’s sad. Our media tells us, daily, to self-hate and abhor other women. Dire. It’s become a feminist issue. I say that as a proud feminist.
It’s vital to want to thrive, to want to feel confident, and content and to show it to the world.
I don’t want to succeed at the expense of others, I never have done. My only competition is with myself. I want us all to do well, and together I know we can.
But I suppose you need to allow yourself permission to be confident first, to feel confident, to appear confident.
To push your shoulders back, to take a deep breath and walk into that meeting sure of who you are, or return that email, knowing your worth, your potential, how brilliant you are, and can be.
It’s normal and natural to fear the unknown, to be scared when you’re out of your comfort zone, trying new things, changing your perception of yourself. I feel it every time I take on a new challenge and I ask myself, ‘can I do this?’ but that’s when and where you grow the most, the more you push yourself, even a tiny bit, the more confident you ultimately feel.
Nerves are positive and necessary, use them to spur you on. Even the most successful and celebrated filmmakers, actors, politicians feel nervous. Remember that.
Oh and mistakes, they teach far more than success. I always remember learning more on a film shoot where literally everything went wrong than on one immediately before that scooped me awards and accolades the world over.
Embrace failure, it will teach you great lessons. Every successful person has failed, many, many times they just didn’t stop trying. Tenacity and talent prevails. Simply pick yourself back up again, learn from what went wrong, take positive criticism well, not personally, and stay focused on your goals.
Likewise, know that envy is normal and natural but stop it from turning into jealousy. A destructive emotion that zaps confidence and makes you feel sad. Allow the success of others to spur you on, be happy for others and know that you are unique and individual and matter too.
Be sure to keep real friends around you, get rid of the negative zappers in your life, those that really don’t want the best for you and/or simply don’t ‘get you’, realise that’s OK too, that not everyone will love you and vice versa, but that by detoxing your life, your confidence skyrocket.
I also suggest writing a list of everything you excel at right now along with all the things you like about yourself, and pin it to your mirror (or pinterest board) and reflect on it, daily if you need to. Let it give you the impetus to go after everything you want in life. You deserve to feel confident. We all do…
And you know what, whether you truly believe it or not, to start, if you present that supposed self-belief to the world, others will accept it as truth and believe in you, and something amazing happens, a domino style reaction,
Your confidence +others’ belief in you= opportunity and greater confidence….
A cycle of confidence that starts with you. It’s really that simple. Honest.
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