Are any of you sick yet of this constant imperative to be and present as confident?
All part and parcel of contemporary life – this ‘need’ to be successful! enterprising! individualistic! positive!
And if you can’t be any of that, then you must be confident because confidence is the ticket to getting you everything else.
So now, we not only have to contend with all the 1,001 other ideals and goals of modern life – we also have to be confident as we do it.
And oh boy does it feel exhausting just saying this out loud.
But hey – confidence isn’t a light switch. It’s not something you can just turn on and BAM, you’re confident.
In most cases, forcing ourselves to “just be confident” comes at the expense of all the other messy insecurity, discomfort and lack of confidence.
And it’s counter-productive. Trying to be confident when you are most definitely not feeling it doesn’t erase or solve all the other yuck; it just intensifies it.
I am NOT of the camp that you should fake it until you make it. Because faking it usually entails covering up / denying / refusing to acknowledge all the other unpleasant, shadow sides of ourselves that we’d rather not face.
You know – the things that niggle away in the background that make us question our confidence, that make us feel less than, that over-emphasise everything that is and can go wrong.
Ignoring those things only makes the fake confidence we’re projecting even more fragile than it already is, a veneer on the edge of splintering.
And, friends, who wants to live in that constant state of nervy agitation all the time, terrified of the that facade giving way?
So I’m here to advocate, instead, for being a giant, hot unconfident, insecure mess.
For not faking it.
For not masking it with a confidence we’re not feeling.
For owning that ‘This is where I am right now and even if it looks like a Great-Dane-sized pile of poop, it is okay and normal and very, very human.’
All through my twenties I was told to fake it til I made it, to project project project the ‘Just do it!’ self-assuredness of a shiny Nike ad.
Here’s a photo of 27-year-old me looking like I’m top of the world (truth: I hated myself and felt like a loser almost every moment of every day).
I was good at it too, even if I felt like a bag of dead meat on the inside. But all this show of confidence wears thin very quickly and there I was, aged 31 burnt out, wiped out, whacked out on Lexapro and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Because I’m now all for letting things be easy, I’ve done away completely with the confidence stuff. I let myself be a hot mess when I need to be.
I cry about how useless I feel (just a few nights ago, actually).
I rant online about the big cruddy failure I feel that I am.
I let myself not know what I need to do next and lean into the wobbly, confused uncertainty.
And you know what?
Embracing this most definite LACK of confidence is making me feel better (and more confident?) than I ever was in my ‘confident fake-it-til-you-make-it’ twenties.
Because here’s the thing: insecurity / confidence are really just flipsides of each other. Letting yourself be secure and okay about the insecurities, the gaps, the not-enoughness, the good, the bad and the ugly is, ultimately, to be confident.
And vice versa – being truly confident is to be secure and okay about the pile of garbage that lays just beneath the surface.
After all, what are we meant to be confident about? And how can we really be confident about something that (we feel) isn’t there?
So – you wanna have the kind of tip top confidence that we all see in the likes of Madonna, Oprah, the Dalai Lama?
It doesn’t start with pretending / telling or forcing yourself to believe that you’re just as talented / engaging / intelligent / compassionate / wise as them – especially if you honestly don’t feel it.
Instead, it starts with just being okay with where you are – including and especially the gross, uncomfortable bits.
When you start feeling good and confident about these grubby, unpolished parts of you, then confidence about everything else gets so much easier and comes so much more naturally.
You won’t need to fake it to make it. You’ll have made it, messy bits and all.