August 3, 2017

have confidence

Confidence isn't easy.

Okay. That's not entirely true. I recently re-watched the Sex and the City series, and for the most part, Samantha Jones is a fierce woman who oozes confidence. She's a fictional character, but I'm sure there are plenty of real life people in this world strutting through life, wearing confidence like it's their favorite pair of shoes.

Let me rephrase: confidence isn't easy for me. It doesn't come naturally, and I struggle to even fake it. Sometimes I can pretend its someone else's fault I'm doubting myself or my work. Someone at the office makes a jab about my photography. A reader uses the phrase "kind of boring" in an Amazon review. A stranger asks if I'm expecting, when really, I lack self control when it comes to saying no to french fries and yes to a regular workout routine.

After getting over the initial anger or irritation, I can sometimes shake it off. I can explain it away.
That's subjective.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea.
But it doesn't usually end there. Not for me. Instead, it becomes a vicious circle of anger to stewing to sadness to self doubt then back around again and again. It can go on for hours or days. In fact, I'm stewing right now about something minuscule someone said more than twelve hours ago as I pen this in the middle of the night. I even have a chip on my shoulder about some shit that went down in elementary school.

(Quick pause for an acknowledgment: I suck too. I am guilty of saying or doing things that probably hurt or offend others. I hate that I can't even pretend I've never done this. And while I'm sorry, that doesn't take away the needless worry based on my thoughtless or insensitive remarks. Despite my best efforts, I'm no angel.)

For me, it's hard to share a slight. It doesn't matter if the person is a stranger or in my closest circle. I always feel like crap after and go down a shame spiral. And that's after I try to not take it personally. This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt almost always comes to mind:

Though I know better, my lack of confidence and I give people the permission to make me feel inferior. And it's lame.

So what do I do?

What do you do?

I find Googling "how to deal with micromanagers" or "personal affirmations" (depending on the external stimuli du jour) offers some relief. Venting to my friends and cracking jokes helps too. But those are coping mechanisms. Not long-term solutions.

How often do people say you have to develop a thick skin in business? It's pretty much constant. And it makes some sense. Whether you're an author or an accountant, you will receive criticism. Still, is it really possible to ignore it? As a creative-type who needs to tap into her emotions, it's hard for me to close off any part. It's a constant struggle not to take it personally.

I wish I had answers or some great break-through revelation I could share. I wish I could give you five steps to build your confidence or cope with criticism. But I don't.

All I can say is this: Try to take the high road whenever you can. If you must respond, don't retaliate with words that will send someone else down their own lack-of-confidence shame spiral. Being a dick won't help. And remember, if you feel nitpicked or like you suck, you're not alone. Somewhere right now, someone else is feeling low too. That's not to negate your feelings--they are valid and legitimate--but to remind you that you have good company. And you'll get passed this sucky time. (Unfortunately, chances are better than good you'll end up feeling this way again. Don't let that get you down though. We're fighters.)

Taking the high road isn't easy, but neither is faking confidence. And that, my friends, bring us full-circle on this rambling post of mine.

Now to let Demi Lovato play us out...

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