Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Confidence

Whether it's mom-ing, tri-ing, quilting, or performing, I exude confidence.

This is not always a good thing.

'Cause I don't usually know what the eff I am doing.

I remember when, during one of my very first professional auditions, they asked me if I could play the drums.
"Of course. Not, like at a professional level, but yes."
They believed me, of course, and started whispering behind the table and audibly discussing when they could call me back to see such a skill. Probably also checking out the acne scars, the lack of make-up, the ill-experienced resume staring at them, and perhaps the ill-hidden look of terror steadily creeping over my face. I started to sweat, imagining myself taking the train up to my uncle's and pulling an all-nighter to study with him.
"Thanks. We'll let you know." And that was that.
It took me awhile [like: 20 years] to realize that I didn't need to [ineffectively] lie to people, because there were certain things I was actually good at, and just as the cliche dictates, the right opportunity would eventually come around [like: 20 years later.]

But recently I've had a few friends come out of the wood-work during a 'first' of theirs to ask me about it: either mom-ing, or sewing, or tri-ing, or even performing [what can I say, I inspire people to believe if I can do it, surely they can.] So I start to spew all that I know. Knowing I'm not an expert, but perhaps these friends realize that I'm going to give them the real deal: I'm confident in what I do know, and I'm also confident in what I don't know, and will be honest about both.

But what about things I don't write about? How about that geneticist I know who doesn't feel comfortable asking me about her latest discovery? And the mountain climber. Poor guy, he knows I'm from Florida, so he doesn't bother to ask. I'll address the root of any one thing in life: confidence, and how to bank on it.

1. Try something dumb
When you try something outside of your comfort zone, you feel dumb. Maybe it's a ballet class. Maybe it's escargot. Maybe it's an interview for a corporate finance position when you work in asset management. Weird. Dumb. Gives you a bad taste in your mouth. Makes you realize:
"Hey! I really suck at this. This is dumb. But I'm awesome at ...."
In more realistic terms, I found that the 70.3 was my dumb. I think that I could improve on my Olympic distance tri length time next year, and I will try. I'm not saying I might not also feel dumb at the end of that race, too, but then I get in my car and say to myself, "Yes but how many of those bitches can hit a high D?"

2. Believe that others are scared, too.
I cannot bear to follow blogs where the moms appear perfect to me. I also cannot bear to follow blogs where there are calamities 24/7. Everybody's in the same boat: we're all just discovering our own path in motherhood/parenting, and some days we hit upon something grand, and I will Google and StumbleUpon your grand moment. Other days, you gotta admit: no one's perfect. Isn't it always the self-help authors who are divorced with kids in therapy just two years after publishing? I don't know...I like to believe so. So when you find something works for you: don't think it an accident. You did something right, and you are perfectly capable of doing that something right. But conversely, when you look upon your two-year-old who has just ground his own poop all over the shore rental's carpet, walls, and doors, fear not: other mothers want to throw their child up against the wall in this moment as well. Yes - we think about never having had children - we think about taking the next train out West - we think about neighbors and teachers we know who would be better suited to professionally care for our children - we have doubts. You're not alone. Be confident in your feelings. Don't throw your child upon against the wall - but be confident you're not the only one to have ever experienced this emotion.

3. Try believing yourself right first.

Hubby and I watched the best documentary on NetFlix the other night: Somm.


It's about a group of Sommeliers who are taking the "Master Somm" exam. You are only allowed to take it once a year, and only about 5% pass it on any given year, so many are re-taking it. This is a movie ALL about confidence. You have to believe you have this natural born skill to smell and taste a million different variations, but you also have to hone that skill and train that skill to its finest point for accuracy. In one scene, one of the candidates is so confident in his tasting that he vehemently opposes the proctor's declaration of the wine he has just tasted. He believes the proctor switched two bottles of wine between the two glasses he just tasted. He leaves a trial tasting believing himself right first. You watch him fight the master/proctor and have to admire his confidence. He is living life right. Anyone who is successful believes themselves to have a good plan, a good idea, a good way of doing things. They believe themselves right. And half the time, even if they are not right, they get away with it! You leave the conversation/meeting/race thinking they are amazing. You believe them, too. Conversely, there are people in life who never think they are right! They may have a genius IQ but always second-guess what they are doing. Those are the ones whose bright ideas are wasting away in a their brains instead of coming out into the world and living. Try trusting you are right. Yes. You did read that fact. Yes. You did know the answer to that problem.
"Yes, child, I am your mother and I, for a fact, know that you need gloves this morning, bitch!"
4. Try saying yes.
This is a fun improv game we actors often play. You get in a circle, or on a stage, and whatever your fellow actor throws at you in the scene: "Oh my love, my loins burn for you but the fire-breathing dragon behind you burns deeper", you have to go along with. You say: "Yes, and..." and add something new to the scene: "Yes, and... the dragon is my lover. So you cannot have me until you slay him."It brings you to new heights in life. It allows you to expand the scene, the plot, and the world you are creating rather than cutting down what someone has just created, and making the imaginary world smaller and less dense. If I said, "There is no dragon behind me; you are mistaken." Where could we go next? I'd have to create a whole new world from scratch. I think this is a fun way to live life. In conversation, in parenting, in traveling: there is no reason not to go forward with an idea, rather than cutting it down to a smaller size. I fantasize about being those parents who allows the children to pick a spot on the map for the family vacation and drive to it. Or, even if my kids just want to dance, I make it a dance party. Yes, and a dance party with commentary. Yes and commentary that alternates between family members with a microphone. Yes and the microphone and now piano playing too...and so on and so on...

5. Never stop changing.
People are amazing. People are dynamic. Understanding that things change, life changes, circumstances change, before they happen, will give you the confidence to face anything. You will not be living this same life tomorrow. You may feel trapped in Groundhog Day, but you aren't. Think about life a year ago. Imagine those changes a year from now. Nothing stays stagnant. If you wake up with that knowledge, there is opportunity around you. I usually go to the grocery store and get the same things every time, but I keep my head up. There is sometimes something new! Sometimes?! Not all the time, and it's not like the grocery store is an exciting place, but one new spice on your spice rack may wake up one new sense in your family's palette at dinner that night and remind them that life is not always the same. My silly example: hubby and I went to Home Depot last Friday night to pick out the flooring for the bathroom remodel we are doing. He was going to use the same product he did in the basement, because he really liked it.
"The Easiest Floor Ever!", literally, on the box.
I wasn't 100% sure on the color, but he knew we needed to get this done by Thanksgiving, and any other color was going to be special-order. But we needed to see it in person and discuss. Lo and behold, his usual in-stock color was not on the shelf. It was out of stock. I was going to ask someone to help us find it 'in the back', but my husband gets frustrated with me "HOME DEPOT DOES NOT HAVE A BACK." He often tells me. So now we were faced with having to order something we haven't seen in person and wait a week for it to come in, or use a different product. We went down a different aisle to peruse the other products. I looked up, and saw a few boxes of the product he liked. We asked a stockperson to come help us decipher it, and it was a special order return of the espresso color I had been eye-ing!! AT A REDUCED PRICE! I'm sorry, it may seem silly, but to me this was a perfect win of confidence-meets-opportunity. It was a win-win-win. I kept my eyes open, I looked around me, and not only did we get the product my husband liked, in the color I preferred, but we also got it at a reduced price.

Believe an answer is in front of you. Believe in your abilities to do something. Believe you are right. [That baby totally needs a nap; you know this to be true.] It is the only way to live.

Don't get me wrong - I have my blah days - I have my doubts - ALL THE TIME. But then something comes around to make you feel confident in yourself and you have to LET IT. I'm sure I will find out I did not get the part I auditioned for last weekend - and feel blah again. But for this week - the week of anticipation - I feel confident that I did well and that someone half-wanted me [for that callback], so I'm all juiced up and ready to serve you up a plate of brass balls.



  1. Fake it till you make it right? :) Day to day, I work in the tech field which can be difficult. For some reason, big egos seems to abound in a room full of people talking about how to solve a problem. I usually tone myself down until I figure out the room then let it fly. If I'm willing to ramble about something to a room full of strangers, I at least feel like I know what the heck I'm talking about!

  2. Oh - bummer about the audition. But as you eluded to - sometimes things work out exactly like they are supposed to. :)

    1. Thx! No official word yet - so I'll just remain hopeful for another, oh, two days or so ;)

  3. Love this post! I feel like conquering the world! Funny thing - my husband and I just watched Somm too! I didn't think anyone had seen that film. Thanks for the confidence boost on a Friday. Now to tackle that quilt - I AM a quilter, damn it! x

    1. Yay for quilting!! Yay for documentaries!! Keep me posted on more ;)

  4. Definitely a great post, sometimes we really need to remember that believing in ourselves is the most important. Sometimes that means making asses out of ourselves, but i feel like the bigger failure is never trying. NEVER stop trying! You're awesome :)


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