Confidence: the elusive feeling you've been chasing since puberty.
Of course you have! When you feel confident you:
- Accomplish important things
But what I'm learning the hard way is that not all confidence is made of the same stuff. There's false confidence that crumbles the moment you compare yourself to others. And there's deep, real confidence... the stuff of visionaries and thought-leaders.
Which one are you riding on?
When My False Confidence Came Crashing Down
I spent years buying into the you-must-do-things-well-to-be-confident norm.
When praised for something I'd have sweet moments of "I rock, bring it on world!". But days later when I saw someone on social media doing something else I felt like a piece of crap.
"True confidence comes from doing things so well that other people notice how capable you are."
- False self-help article tagline
It was exhausting to have my confidence constantly riding on how well I "performed" in life.
And the nastiest part of this false confidence? It keeps you addicted to others' approval, like a drug. Every hit of attention from others brings a sweet rush, but sadly takes you further away from learning to be yourself and live your own ideals.
One day a project I launched didn't go well at all, and my confidence completely crashed. I felt like a useless, incompetent wannabe and I felt like giving up (yes, my inner critic is very harsh).
I could no longer stand the rollercoaster of feeling invincible one moment and like a failure the next.
So out of necessity, I had a heart-to-heart with my girlfriends and for the first time I admitted how tough and confident I felt on the outside, and insecure I was on the inside.
They commiserated. And they got real (bless them).
"Victoria you'll never be able to push any boundaries in your life or the world if you cave every time you don't do something perfectly, if you crumble every time one of your weak points is highlighted."
They were right. I realized I was focusing on and appreciating my 'good' qualities as my source of confidence. And denying and hiding my 'bad/imperfect' qualities (I guess hoping they'd disappear?). So when the 'bad' qualities were highlighted, I totally lost my grounding in myself.
I finally admitted my false confidence to myself:
"I'm not perfect! I have amateur and unsharpened parts too! Look at them world!"
I quickly understood that if I acknowledge all of my parts, then no sub-par performance or even comments from others can shake me. Because I already know that that stuff is there, it's OK, I've already acknowledged it as an acceptable part of me.
Real confidence. Where I feel grounded in myself, and keep going whether I'm rocking a conversation/ project/ post or absolutely botching it.
So What is This False Confidence vs. Real Confidence?
False confidence = acknowledging and owning your 'good' parts so that when these parts are put in the spotlight you feel capable and can move forward with your ideas.
Real confidence = acknowledging and owning all your parts so that no matter what part of you is in the spotlight you feel capable and can move forward with your ideas.
Real confidence not only feels amazing, but more importantly it's the kind of confidence that allows us to push boundaries, be visionaries, and act on our values even when we're being questioned.
What Confidence are You Riding on? The Litmus Test.
You're clinging to false confidence = You generally feel quite confident. But when you do feel self-doubt, it stops you in your tracks and makes you question everything.
You're practicing deep confidence = You feel gently confident in yourself with no need to flaunt it or cling to it. You fail at things and you feel self-doubt but you know that it's totally OK. You move forward with what feels right for you despite what other people are doing and saying.
How Can You Cultivate Real Confidence?
Become aware of the parts of you that you're deeming 'unacceptable' and shoving under the bed.
Then start accepting the parts under the bed, as hard as you can.
How Can You Start Practicing Right Now?
It's tough-- especially when people around us are buying into this false confidence and shoving all their imperfect parts under the bed.
Let's do the work to break the pattern.
When you feel pangs of self-doubt and your confidence is slipping, get real with yourself about what unshiny part of yourself you're not accepting.
Your underachieving, conventional-thinking, people-pleasing, amateur, insecure, still-figuring-it-out parts.
Do everything you can to accept them.
So rather than freaking out and losing yourself, in any situation you can calmly reorient and move forward.
Let's Do This
You are notably cool and capable exactly as you are right now. You don't need another outfit, another degree, another influential friend, another Instagram follower... you're good to do your thing right now.
I'm no expert, I'm definitely still practicing! Let's practice together so we have everyday boldness to live our ideals, and keep taking action on our ideals no matter what.
It's time, the world needs us to.