Guest blog by Laura Farmer
(Introduction by Kelly Whalley) We all have our own definition of confidence. Young, old, employed, unemployed, highly educated, barely educated, at the start of your career journey or nearing the end…each one different and nuanced. As we’ve mentioned before, confidence is an ever-changing perception and is as individual as our own personal story. We’ve focused quite a bit on confidence in the workplace and for those of early-career age… but what of those coming up behind? The way that the teenagers of today view confidence will end up shaping our society, just as the older generations before them have had the same effect. So let’s get some insights from an incredibly eloquent and honest young lady who has just started at college… and see what we can learn from her.
Confidence is a word I hear a lot. At school, at home, when I’m walking through the supermarket, along the streets, in the gym. The word is a mantra, repeated in my head everytime I enter a new environment. It is what I wish to be, but what I can never become. That is when I realised that confidence isn’t an identity that we are labelled with at birth. Confidence is a quality that determines our state of being, it fluctuates and changes. I can’t control it, but I also don’t need to.
For me, I’m still on my journey, discovering who I am and where I belong, in fact I feel like I have just begun. I see the world in its confusing and endearing entirety, whilst having more confidence might make me walk through it more easily, it doesn’t change the quality of my view, the beauty apparent around me.
I don’t believe being confident requires not caring about the opinions or judgements of people around you, because regardless of whether we deny it or not, our whole lives exist caring about the people we love the most. Therefore to suggest that would mean that being confident requires abandoning the qualities that make us human. I believe humanity is our best when we do care, when the lives that exist around us hold as much and as meaningful value as that of our own.
The world can be fast-paced, it can be cruel and unforgiving, but it is a world we can choose to see. Confidence, I believe, isn’t the ability to walk through unharmed. But instead to laugh when we are taught to cry. To dance and sing when we are taught to be silent. To stay, to wait and breathe when we are taught to move forward and leave.
As difficult and as confusing as the world still seems, I have realised that acceptance is far more important as the main quality in confidence, rather than the aspiration to achieve, as I was taught. It is okay to not be confident, to desperately want to shrivel away from the world into our cocoons of safety and comfort.
I have realised that the world can be far more interesting when we observe it from a less upfront perspective, being more aware of people and the interactions we are surrounded with can create a much more intriguing narrative. Therefore I have learnt my inner confidence isn’t denying the fear and anxiety I feel at times but instead embracing it.
At the times I don’t feel confident, I try to continue my day, walking down the streets and trying to accept that it is okay to be seen by people in whatever way I appear to be. I also try to remember that nobody can see my thoughts or hear my fear, knowing I can’t I control how people perceive me is okay. And if I have a bad day, I snuggle in bed, grab the popcorn, watch my favourite comfort movie and know I can start again tomorrow. Because being imperfect, reserved, awkward and scared are merely comforting reminders that I am in fact human. I also try to meet up with my friends, window shop and laugh about our day; to people that I care about and bestow all my love upon because when I am with them nobody else matters, I can laugh, sing and cry and know that I am accepted and loved unconditionally. And also feel better because I am surrounded by people as weird and as hilariously awkward as me.
This all gives me the confidence to carry on, feel happy and embrace the complexities of my reality, of my personality. Because without it I have no doubt my world would be a very boring place to be.
More from #careerkickstart month…
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