The Importance of Being Confident

Have some sparkle at your wedding with a metallic theme! #weddingideas

While reading a recent issue of ELLE, I stumbled across an article spurring women to inject more confidence into various aspects of their lives - and tips on how to do so. I related to this as someone who believes in the 'work hard in silence and let your success speak for you' school of thought, the kind of person who takes on criticism much more easily than praise.

But when I thought about it a little more, I questioned when and how I had become like that. My parents always encouraged me to pursue interests I thought I would be good at (even though they must have known professional violin playing was not for me) and never down played my accomplishments. I was never once taught that it was a bad thing to tell anyone that would listen how I had received a 'praise postcard' from school, or had jumped a new height at horse riding without falling off (rare occurrence).

Then it slowly dawned on me.

Of course.

Social media.

In today's society, with your personality on display through multiple social media platforms - whether posted there by you or otherwise - it is hard not to self censor. Especially as we are constantly aware that people are going to be able to become a part of our latest adventures, see our friendship circles, or comment on our latest 'OOTD'. And in turn ultimately cast judgement based on their own principles of 'acceptable'.

We are aware of this because we ourselves do it to others, and so it has become the norm. And in some cases this self censorship, this acute awareness of how others will perceive us, has taken over our real personalities as well as our virtual ones.

We don't want to shout about our accomplishments for fear of coming across too 'braggy'. We don't pass comments on taboo subjects in case we come across as too 'outspoken'. And can you even deal with those people who share their selfies with us because they think they are having a good hair day?! #narcissists

Just writing that paragraph makes me cringe, but only now that it has spilled out of my head and onto the screen can I see how stupid these self doubts are. Yet in the heat of the moment, before I press post, or before I am about to say another pointless 'sorry' for something I have no need to be sorry about. These doubts seem real and relevant.

Thus, with a gentle push from the ELLE article, and the realisation that the scrutiny social media self assurance brings with it has brought a fear of being confident into real life situations, I aim to be bolder in my actions. And I really really want to encourage other women out there to do the same.

I am not saying that all of you gals need a confidence boost, but for those who might think similarly to me.. I want you to understand that there is no shame in being confident. And even if you don't feel confident right now.. PRETEND THAT YOU ARE. Because if you don't feel brave enough to shout about something, someone else will - which in certain situations may mean you are wrongfully hidden in the shade of the person that speaks the loudest.

Fake it 'til you make it is a phrase that we have all heard often enough, but it is only now that I am beginning to understand that it may actually carry some weight.

For example.. have you ever been in that situation where everyone around you is talking about something which you believe to have gone so badly, or looked so awful, that your only reaction to their praise is to look at them quizzically and ask 'REALLY?!' (I.e. That dress really suits you. Your speech went great. Your hair looks so good that short. Good job on your assignment... you get the idea).

Now that I have stepped back and looked for these exchanges - I see them happening not only to me, but to other women around me almost daily. And the reason is simple. We are not confident enough to believe in ourselves when other people do. And if these people have trust in us, why can't we?!

And so fake it 'til you make it comes into play. Though being bold is not literally characterised by shouting about your own accomplishments, act as though you are just about ready to. When people praise you - don't shoot them down or question whether or not they are joking. Force yourself to thank them or ask them for specific feedback so that you can begin to build a little mental (or physical) confidence list. The list you can look back at when feeling unsure if you can carry off that dress, or are worried that a task has come up in an area you don't feel so sure about.

I have decided that I no longer want to downplay my accomplishments. And I don't want any other girls to feel like they have to either. There is no shame in being proud. There is no shame in being ambitious. And there is certainly no shame in being so damn good at something you are actually KILLING IT.

No more apologies, no more hiding (in social media or in real life). If you want to own it.. then you own it - whether you do this quietly or make a song and dance about it is up to you. And even if you aren't owning it yet.. pretend you are.

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