Confidence (or lack thereof)


Ever have one of those “I suck” days? Yeah, yesterday was one for me. Truth be told, I have them a lot. It’s not even like anything really bad happened or I majorly botched something. I was late to work AGAIN, and as the day progressed, I just found myself apologizing to different people for some minor offenses — a parent for not responding to an email, my assistant principal for not posting enough grades, stuff like that. Then I came home and started reading some other mom blogs and of course started losing all sorts of faith in myself and my writing.

After engaging in a little self-flagellation for a good part of the day, I couldn’t help but wonder, Where does it come from? Confidence. Why do some people have so little and others have more than they really should? I loved Tina Fey’s recent Emmy acceptance speech where she said, “I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities.” Where can I get me some of that? My parents raised me that way too, so why didn’t it take?

It’s not as if I don’t have any confidence in myself. I do. Apparently, just not enough. I like to think I can be a pretty objective and diplomatic person. Must be that middle child thing. I definitely have my opinions on certain issues and am not afraid to voice those opinions, but I try and see all sides, and I readily admit when I’m wrong, even to a fault. I have strengths and things I think I do well, but I am also keenly aware of and will be the first to tell you of my flaws and weaknesses. All of this makes it hard to get ahead, to reach goals, to take risks. I am continually waylaid by my inner critic.

Case in point: I have been longing for a career change and would love a job that involves writing. I read some newspaper and magazine articles and think, I can write at least that well. There’s no reason I can’t do that. But that brief glimmer of self confidence and thoughts of, Hey, I’ve got some skills. I can put a sentence together. Why not? are quickly followed and overshadowed by the thoughts, And so can a million other people. What makes me so special?

Somewhere during adolescence, I became fearful of not being realistic when it comes to my talents and dreams. There are times and situations in this world that definitely require the ability to sell yourself, and that is something I am just no good at. I don’t want to claim I’m something I’m not. I don’t want to wind up delusional like those American Idol contestants that make you wince with pity and question their reality and think, Oh, honey, you thought you could sing…really?

I watch bad reality television like The Real Housewives of Atlanta and am blown away by their overblown egos and sense of entitlement. I have a friend who is a pretty shameless self-promoter and am baffled by the things she can convince people to pay her for. I watch as these people who are certainly not the most talented or the most deserving get exactly what they want by sheer force of expectation. I get a little angry until I realize that mostly I am jealous. Again, WHERE CAN I GET ME SOME OF THAT?

So what’s a girl to do? I need a new strategy because the old one’s just not workin’ for me. Pep talks (from myself and my family and friends) help. So does the Prozac. But it’s not enough. I can’t completely ignore my inner critic, because, well, she DOES make good points from time to time and keeps me humble. But how do I learn to keep her in her place?

Categories : journeys in life


  1. brewin says:

    One of my favorite phrases is “Good Enough”–all those parenting studies found out you’d wind up ok if your parents were good enough at the job. You don’t end up homeless if you’re good enough at squirreling some cash away at the end of the month for the rent. If the middle child in you is having a hard enough time putting the gold star on your forehead to convince yourself you’re THE BEST, can you be good enough? Good enough to find a writing job? Good enough to get paid reasonably well for it? Good enough for the Muffin to claim you as her mom? Try that one on for size…

  2. trogdor says:

    Dude, stop apologizing for things that you know you deserve, and don’t wait for people to give you kudos when you know you’ve done a helluva job on something. It sounds like you’re ready to start doing things for you and not for the approval for others. Right on!

  3. Kelly says:

    Good enough. I like that.
    Thanks, brewin and trogdor!