The Prompt: Confidence

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The Prompt 67: Confidence

Confidence. It’s a slippery thing, isn’t it? One minute you’re full of it; happy, sure. The next it’s gone; replaced by fear and anxiety.

It’s something I have always struggled with.

First impressions probably suggest that I am confident, out-going, extrovert. I love groups, parties, events. I get a real buzz out of presenting to an audience. I am good at networking and chit chat.

But, the truth is that I play a good game.

I read an interesting post by Vicky at Honest Mum on Being Confident a couple of weeks ago that resonated.

One of her key points was that it’s okay to fake it, and that the very act of faking confidence can ultimately lead to us feeling confident.

I realised that I have been doing that, unconsciously. Forever.

I rarely start confident inside, irrespective of how it may appear on the outside. But then, something takes over; the ideas come, the conversation flows and laughter is no longer forced.

I worked in construction for almost 20 years. In a male dominated, pressured environment, I became adept at appearing at ease. Confident, knowledgable and in control.

Most of the time I felt anything but.

However, I did know that I was good at my job, that I could manage, organise, persuade and encourage. That teams listened to me. Liked me. That clients trusted me.

That knowledge gave me a certain amount of self-confidence. Even when I was winging it.

I gave all that up three years ago when I left the UK and left my career.

Three years without external validation. I’m a bit of a sucker for validation.

Three years of erosion of that self-confidence.

And a lack of confidence can seep into everything. Opportunities, activities, friendships. If you let it.

Except that moving overseas has given me a different feeling of confidence, a different sense of self. I am braver than I thought, stronger than I imagined. I am still able to walk into a room of strangers feeling shy, and leave having chatted and laughed and enjoyed.

When I began writing this blog, I had no idea where it would lead me.

I had no idea that I would find a new passion. That I would begin to feel that I might have found something else to do. Possibly even a new career.

That is, of course, where it gets tricky. Remember the need for validation?

And while I may have retained my sense of inner self-confidence, I have lost much of my confidence in my ability.

I find myself strangely reticent to pursue opportunities. I struggle to publicise. I shy away from self-promotion. I am reluctant to ask people to read!

As an engineer I won work, won competitions, won clients. I even won awards.

As a writer (if that’s what I am) I am starting from scratch. And that’s scary.

Finding that same level of confidence (whether real or faked) is proving difficult. That sense of self-worth is proving elusive.

Writing exposes you. It leaves you open to criticism, to judgement. That is difficult to reconcile with a lack of confidence.

But.

But, I know that the time has come to fake it.

To take pride in what I do now. To look to the future. To grasp opportunities, to pitch ideas. To write with a confidence that I don’t yet feel, knowing that it will come.

To take that leap into the unknown, and try.

Because the only person that can give me back my confidence is me.
 

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76 thoughts on “The Prompt: Confidence”

  1. Great, honest post Sara. There’s nothing like external validation to give us a confidence boost but feeling it from within is the most important thing. And I think faking it can certainly lead to it becoming real. It sounds like you had a great career and gave up a huge amount three years ago, but as you say, you’ve gained a lot too. I also struggle to self-promote so I can really empathise with those feelings! You really do have talent as a writer and I’m certain you have it in you to achieve whatever you want. Go for it! xxx

    1. Thank you Maddy, that means a lot to me. It’s a tricky balance at times, and I do think that confidence is a very fragile thing. The support that is always there from fellow bloggers makes it all that bit easier :)

      1. Thanks for linking this post to #WhatImWriting. I love it. Funnily enough, I drafted a post on confidence on Thursday night (after I went to the workshop) and it starts with almost exactly the same sentence – I didn’t realise it till I re-read it now. :)

  2. Really great post Sara and so very true. It’s rather ironic that on the day I publish a post about confidence I feel anything but! Tired bean though and a huge to do list so I’m sure that’s it. Will book hotel today x

    1. I suspect we all have those days – tiredness and pressure can certainly take its toll on even the most confident of us x

  3. Thank you for your honesty, Sara. I too am a sucker for external validation. I think that’s one of the reasons I was good at my job (teaching). We were always evaluated, and my students work was always validated. It gave me the confidence to keep going, knowing that my task was working, that I was doing great job.

    Now that I’m home with my daughter and pursuing my writing once more, that validation ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s non-existent. I wholeheartedly agree with that “fake it to make it” mentality. It’s one way we can find strength within and be confident enough to keep going. Because you’re right: no one will make us confident but ourselves.

    Lovely post Sara. Thank you for making me feel not so alone in my feeling of (or lack thereof) confidence. Here’s to hoping we both fake it until we make it :) Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Maria, it really does make a difference knowing that you’re not alone, doesn’t it x

  4. Great (and honest) post, Sara!
    I think most of us have to ‘fake it’ in order to make it when it comes to confidence. Generally, true confidence comes with experience and if something is new and unknown, an element of faking the confidence is required. We all need to be told we’re doing OK, it’s human nature. X

    1. I think you’re absolutely right, which is why it’s so hard when you find yourself starting again. It takes time to get back to the point where we feel we know what we’re doing!

  5. Such a wonderful post Sara and so true that confidence comes from within. It is scary putting yourself out there and exposing yourself to criticism. You are a wonderful writer and you should definitely take pride in what you do x

  6. I agree with all the previous comments but sometimes it’s so hard to fake the confidence and go for it. As for self promotion – how does anyone even start to do that? I know that if I want to make it as a writer I need to be able to self promote but even thinking about it makes me feel anxious! Another skill I need to master it seems…

    1. Absolutely, some days it really is just too hard, I think that’s what makes confidence such a fragile thing. And, self-promotion, gah! I have no idea :)

  7. I love this post and it is so well written. I also seem to need external validation but appear very confident from the outside. I would like to believe in myself just a little bit more…but you’re right, the only person that can do that is me. xx

    1. Thank you Victoria, it would be lovely if our self-confidence wasn’t quite so tied to others opinions, wouldn’t it?!

  8. What a lovely honest post. I actually think a lot of people who come across as confident are anything but. I believe confidence is something most people have to work on if they are honest, but most people won’t admit that they are not as confident as they appear so well done for doing so! #PoCoLo

  9. I tell you, blogging hasn’t done much for my confidence so far! It’s tough putting yourself out there, and it’s refreshing when someone is as honest as you.

    But you’re right about faking it. It’s something I’m not great at doing, but over the years I’ve managed to fake a confident introduction when meeting people and it’s really helped. I need to start faking it in other areas too, so your post was really helpful in reminding me of that.

    #pocolo

    1. I do think if you can go in to a first meeting with confidence, even if you don’t feel it, then it breeds confidence. It is tough putting yourself out there, especially on a blog, that’s where the external validation becomes really important! I have to say, having popped over to your blog, I loved the posts that I read x

  10. I can’t believe you’re all faking it! Most of you inspire me to write and blog and hope someone somewhere gets what I’m trying to say. I love Megan’s quote and I’m thinking that maybe we’re all graceful ducks on the surface, nervously paddling underneath? A good prompt :) x

    1. Ah, I think more of us are cowering inside than we’d like to admit! I love Megan’s quote too, self-belief is so important x

  11. Fabulous post, Sara, honest too. Most of us need external validation of some sort (including me!) but not many admit it. You are a writer, and a very good one too. Losing confidence moving to another country isn’t unexpected – and it’s a brave thing to do. You’re right, only you can give yourself confidence, and writing really is very exposing meaning an already vulnerable confidence is easy to shatter. But you are stronger than you think, and more wonderful than you give yourself credit for xxx

  12. Brilliant post. I swear I could have written this myself… It’s funny how it is often the people who are best at ‘faking it’, who seem full of confidence on the outside, who are shaking like a leaf behind it all. Thank you for your honesty – it’s always good to be reminded that I’m not alone! Far from it if the other comments are anything to go by :) We definitely need to remember to go gently on ourselves, and on each other. I think the one problem with being good at faking confidence, though I agree it is often self-fulfilling, is that people often don’t notice when you do need a bit of emotional support. But that’s one of the many reasons why the blogosphere is so awesome :) xx

    1. I think you’re right about support, and from reading the other comments I suspect that more of us are shaking than we imagine. We should be mindful of that x

  13. Great post and who couldn’t agree with so much here? I think we all have an insecure side, It is a good thing and keeps us human, I love the it’s OK to fake it bit, I think I do that too. To me you come across as confident but not over confident, just in that perfect friendly. open and approachable way.

  14. Well done for having the courage to be so honest. I think everyone will relate to what you’re describing – as the comments thread testifies! A wise person once said (gotta feeling it was Matt Haig, but I can’t be sure) that a writer needs a thick skin – in order to cope with constantly exposing your innermost self to criticism and judgement, but at the same time a writer needs a thin skin to absorb the world and react with empathy and sensitivity… I’ve always wondered how to square this circle – perhaps faking it is the answer!

    1. That is a tricky square to circle isn’t it, but I do think that sentiment is very true with respect to writers. Perhaps faking it is the way to give yourself the thick skin, while maintaining the thin one :)

  15. Great post Sara, I’m a huge believer in fake it till you make it, and I do it a lot, which means I am usually alright when I am doing something but my lack of confidence makes me very apprehensive beforehand! You absolutely should be confident on your blog and your writing, so go for it lovely! Xx

    1. Thank you Caroline, I beginning to think that most of us feel like this, at least some of the time x

  16. This is brilliant and inspiring Sara. I had never really thought that we can get to where we want by ‘faking it’ but you’re right. If we don’t (pretend) to believe in ourselves, then who else is going to? Best of luck with your writing venture. I’ve never dared to call myself such a thing either. It feels big headed and as though I’m setting myself up to fail. Gah, I’ve got a long way to go in this confidence thing! x

    1. Thank you so much Suzanne. The ‘writer’ title is tricky isn’t it? I think that if we write and we love it, we are writers; I wouldn’t call myself an author though; that requires proper publication :)

  17. I’m at a stage now where I’m starting again in many ways and the self confidence thing is not high. I have yet to master the ‘faking it’ approach, but I’m working on it. I agree, the exposure of writing is tricky, and really makes you incredibly vulnerable. But it is also invigorating , energising and incredibly powerful, if you can find a way to harness it.

  18. Great, honest post Sara. :-)

    Well, when it comes to defining what a writer is, I always find this useful:

    “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann.

    So if you feel as though you’re rather lacking in confidence in this writing-thingy and find it all a bit difficult… well, that probably means that you’re a writer! Congratulations! Just keep on doing what you’re doing…

  19. You write beautifully and with such honesty. I don’t think you should have any worries about your writing abilities and should just go for it in terms of self promotion! There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Do truly self confident people exist? Those who appear to be, often come across as arrogant with no regard for others. Underneath there might be a hugely insecure person trying too hard, you just don’t know. Sounds to me like you’ve got the balance just right.

    1. Oh, thank you Nicola. You’re so right about that fine line, and perhaps that’s where some of my struggles lie, I would hate to ever be seen as arrogant. But, yes, I must get better and self-promotion :)

  20. Great post Sara, and one that really resonated with me. I feel like I constantly go from feeling like my self-confidence is on the floor, to going through times where I’m really working hard to believe in my own abilities. I’m beginning to try and ‘revive’ my blog again after over a year or so of letting life get in the way, but nearly every day I think ‘who am I kidding? What am I doing this for, I’m not good enough’. But I have to tell that little voice of doubt to be quiet and I keep on reminding myself that I enjoy writing, so that’s all that matters and I should stick with it. It’s not always easy, though!
    You clearly have a wonderful talent for writing and it takes a lot of courage to be so honest! Keep on keeping on! xx

    1. I think first and foremost we need to blog for ourselves, otherwise I suspect that many of us would never hit publish! And, if you love it, you should definitely do it xx

  21. That’s such an honest account and I know exactly what you mean. I’ve struggled with nerves for years and I’ve been out of my career now for three years and am missing that validation to!! x

  22. Beautifully written post, Sara (yes, you are a writer). I think most of us are ‘faking it’ at something. Even those who are totally confident in one area might feel a bag of nerves in another – a confident writer might be a bag of nerves before a networking event, for example… And confidence levels can change from one day to the next,m can’t they (I am certainly less confident when I’m not well, for example). I just assume everyone is sort of faking it at some level and that can help a lot!

    1. Thank you Rachael. I think you’re probably right, and I have to admit I have felt much better since reading all these wonderful comments. I am not alone!

  23. Brilliant post Sara and I identify with a lot of what you say here. Early motherhood is definitely a time when you lose confidence – especially if you’ve given up a professional career and society has a low opinion of women who are ‘just mums’. Fortunately we find a way out of it eventually and it’s so true that you can face confidence. I discovered that about five years ago and wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner! xx

    1. Thank you Emily. I dread the ‘what do you do’ question… it always seems to be accompanied by the word ‘just’!

  24. Such a brilliant and well written post , you are a writer and you are a very good one at that. I totally believe that confidence comes from within and something i am very lacking in myself , i think i need to start faking it x #sharewithme

  25. Hi Sara,
    I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability! Leaving your career and moving overseas, especially to the US where the first question everyone asks is, “What do you do?” I’m sure could be confidence shakers. But then you dig deep and find that you’re stronger than you thought. Beautifully written! And I can identify having moved overseas myself. Sometimes you’re put in a position where the only thing you can do is but walk forward, and you find that you can do it, even if you didn’t think you could. I look forward to reading more!

    1. Thank you very much Kacie. We made some big changes three years ago, I think that the ramifications are still being felt; it’s hard to start again!

  26. I agree about faking it til you make it Sara. Another blogger once wrote a post really criticising the idea of faking til you make it but I tried to argue in commenting that I felt she’d missed the point, that faking it wasn’t about ‘being a fake’ – its all semantics really isn’t it? And FITYMI (sorry it had to be done!) is really all about boosting confidence and giving yourself a kick start. I also think that part of FITYMI is learning not to care so much. We all want to be liked, we all want to be admired for what we do and it does matter to us but its the people who don’t seem too desperate that do so much better in life isn’t it? Great post thanks for linking it to #thetruthabout this week Xx

    1. Absolutely agree, it’s not about being fake, it’s about putting on your best, brave smile, taking a deep breath and doing it anyway, no matter how terrified you are. The feeling of accomplishment is a huge confidence booster x

  27. I think what you’ve written and experience is so true about a lot of people. And it’s very much dependent on situation. I know I don’t feel very confident in the work I’ve been doing for 2.5 years – because it’s not the industry I know anything about, I feel like my work relies too much on others, and nothing ever comes in on time, even when I’m repeating something we did the previous year. There’s just too many people who have to check things in case there’s a problem – that immediately takes away the confidence that you know what you’re doing. But I obviously blag a good game (or other people are particularly rubbish!), because all I get is good feedback (touch wood).

    I think growing older and having kids gives you a bit of confidence in something different, something that you don’t have any chance to experience before having them yourself, and that it can open other doors as you’ve found with your writing.

    Good luck with finding your way in the way you want. Keep faking it til it becomes real!

    1. I’ve realised over the years that I blag an excellent game! But, I don’t think we’d be able to if we weren’t actually skilled at what we’re doing :)

  28. Fantastic and honest post Sara. I love it and can relate. I think so many of us try to fake it just to make it and its hard but we really need to feel it deep down inside and I wish more helped each other instead of judged each other and maybe then many of us would have more confidence. Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me I hope you are enjoying my blog hop and thanks for all the linky support! #sharewithme

    1. I think that’s a very good point Jenny, sometimes we fake it because we don’t feel that the support is there to admit that we’re struggling; or worse we worry that we’ll be judged x

  29. I’m the same. Winging it most of the time and wondering how others are so confident the rest of the time. Your post does make me wonder if in fact most people are in fact winging it and aren’t as confident as they seem. That would make far more sense to me than a world full of seemingly confident people.

    By pretending to be confident, we can actually fool ourselves into believing it, which helps others see us in the light we’d like them to.

    xx

  30. Well, first off, I want to thank you for joining Tiffany and I at this week’s #SHINEbloghop. We’re on a break from commenting right now but I couldn’t let a first-time SHINE Blog Hop participant go without having one of us pop by, read, say hi, and comment.

    Secondly… this post was written for me.

    Yes, I lack confidence and much like you shared I fake it. It’s so true that your mind starts to shift and suddenly you actually are confident. It’s a daily venture though. Plus I find any time I say, “Jennifer, you suck at this”… well, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I love blogging and it;s a passion of mine as well… although the past week was terribly rocky (hence the break I’m on).

    Thank you so much for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop. I hope you’ll pop by and link up again.

    Wishing you a lovely week.
    xoxo

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting Jennifer, especially when you’re trying to have a bit of a break. I really appreciate it.

      I think you are so right that telling ourselves we’re rubbish at something is self-fulfilling. We really should be better at the positive affirmations instead!

      Hope you’re okay, I’ve been following your blog for awhile, and it’s wonderful. Just haven’t had the time until now to join in with the SHINE blog hop! I will be back :)

  31. Thanks for the mention darling, I think it’s about simply practising being confident until you feel it, we all have days where our confidence takes a knock but it’s important to get back up again, remember and remind ourselves of our worth and to keep on truckin’. You rock x

  32. Yeah! Fake it til you make it, baby! We all do this at points in our lives, and you usually find that people who you think are the most confident people are actually just pumping themselves up with “fake it” juice every morning.
    I get impostor syndrome, especially at work. I’m the manager of 10 very talented men, with male peers and a male management structure above me, and I have moments where I’m totally “They only like me because I’m female but one day, they’re going to work out I’m a fraud and I do nothing…”
    Actually, that’s not true at all.
    Same for you. All the buts and ifs aren’t true. You are a writer and you are bloody successful. You’re good at this blogging thing. You’re already doing some of the things you aspire to!
    Keep going. You’re awesome. x

  33. A briliant post & something I can completely resonate with.
    I used to be really confidence. Now i’m winging it all of the time. With blogging. When I socialise. When I meet any new person. I feel like someones going to find me out & knock back those fake walls with ease sometimes. I’m just hoping I can wing it for long enough for that confidence to become real.

    Chloe
    x
    #briliantblogposts

    1. Thank you. I really do think more of us are winging it than we imagine, hopefully we’re all working our way back towards being confident in what we do x

  34. WOW this brings make memories for me. When I was last on maternity leave I felt a bit lost and my blog was my little saviour for contact and confidence. Faking it is definitely the way isn’t it? I did that for years and years whenever I had to present and would feel physically sick beforehand. It took me a good 5 years or more to actually feel comfortable with it!

    1. But, you do get comfortable, don’t you? It’s amazing what we can do if we set our minds to it :)

  35. You write and very well, so you are definitely a writer. I think every new situation shakes us if we let it. Sometimes when there is no validation, you need to just have faith, faith in yourself, faith in your abilities. I’m the world’s worst person for believing in myself, but I know that every time I’ve taken that leap and tried, it’s paid off xx

    1. Thank you very much. I think you’re right, it is about having a little faith and taking that leap x

  36. I too am an engineer. I’ve worked in big organizations where I’ve gone into meetings, given presentations at board level and come out smiling. Maybe the only woman in the room. That all seems so easy now. I’ve got the letters after my name, in case I forget that I can do it. I still do it to a certain extent, but I think it is the structure that helps. Project management gives the boundaries and definitions. I know what to expect. With writing and blogging, the structure is different. Much more flexible and uncontrollable. More difficult to feel the confidence if you have less control. Maybe that’s just me.

    Popping over from #brillblogposts

    1. I completely agree, and I suspect that it’s partly the lack of any real structure that leaves me feeling unsure of what I’m doing x

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