Thursday, 22 November 2012

Fake it 'til you make it.


I love getting together with the Witch Flawless Friends, and not just because I love having a good gossip with their social media lady, Holly (although she is one of the best ones). It’s just a great and diverse group of bloggers, and the Witch team also always cook up something fun for us all to do together, like last time.

This time around, we met at the seriously swanky Soho Hotel for afternoon tea a couple of weeks ago. It was gorgeous – all bright colours and delicious cakes. If I ever get the chance to go there again, I’m taking a little box to serve as a doggy bag – YUM.

The biggest part of the day, though, was a talk by Donna Dawson about confidence. Donna is something of an expert in the field, and gave some great advice on how to appear more confident in everyday life, and got everyone talking and comparing their experiences. Some of the Flawless Friends are still in their teens, whereas a few of us are late 20s/early 30s, and within the discussion I did notice the distinction more than usual.

You see, if you’d asked me five or more years ago if I was confident, I would have said no. I’ve always thought of myself as pretty shy, mostly because I WAS – awkward amongst new people, or in big groups, not willing to speak out in meetings (or lectures, or classes). If I could avoid talking to someone on the phone I would always send an email, and public speaking? Forget about it.

But here’s where I truly believe ‘Fake it until you make it’. Because once I realised I wanted to work in marketing, being the shy and retiring type just wasn’t going to cut it. Those who project confidence are the ones who interviewers remember, and ultimately, the ones who are going to get the jobs. So I faked it. Big smile, clear speech, relaxed persona... and I fooled people. I did it so often that I stopped thinking about it, particularly when I was made redundant in the height of the recession, and went to a LOT of interviews. So then, in one interview, I was asked what my weakness was, and I said that sometimes I could be shy, but I was working on it... and the interviewers said ‘You? You’re not shy!’ And suddenly I realised they were right – I wasn’t. Not any more.

There are a lot of elements that tied into this change, and completely changed this very big part of me. Earlier this year, I did my first public presentation to a room of 200 people, and have done similarly-sized presentations twice since then. I've gone from being terrified at the first one, to now quite enjoying it. And what’s interesting about that is that part of the ease I feel in front of an audience has actually come from something Donna mentioned – are you more confident online than in person?

Because, I think as bloggers and tweeters there’s an element of seeking validation. If your outfit post gets nice comments you do think ‘Oh, okay, I do look alright then’. If your jokey tweet gets RTed you do think ‘I must be at least a LITTLE bit funny’. If your photograph gets pinned, you do think ‘I can’t be that bad at photography, after all!’ And gradually you start to believe in yourself a bit more.

My point is this; if I’m being honest, the biggest reason I think I am more confident IS the internet. It’s given me the chance to let my silly sense of humour loose and I’ve got (almost) nothing but positivity back. So I got up there in front of 200 people, and I talked about marketing, and I made jokes about my team and the company, and I was FINE.

I’m not saying that I don’t have doubts, or awkward moments, or fat days or bad skin days or frizzy hair days, and when I meet new people I quite often spend ages afterwards worrying that I was annoying or horribly drunk (normally both). Because it’s normal, and if I didn’t, I’d be a pretty unbearable, deluded person. But I DO believe in myself more than I did five years ago, and you guys are a big part of that. I just wanted you to know that.

So, if you’re where I was in my early 20s, full of doubt and fear and shyness – just work on it. Focus on the things you like about yourself. Give yourself some credit for the things you’re good at. Then maybe, when you hit 30, you’ll realise you’re not that scared little person any more, too.

And it'll feel kind of amazing.

In case you were wondering: 
Dress - River Island | Belt - New Look | Necklace - Wharton Goldsmith | Collar - Girl & Bird | Friis & Company Flat Shoes c/o Spartoo Shoes
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5 comments

  1. This sounds like a such a lovely event! I'm quite similar to you where I think I am quite shy but people would probably say I wasn't. I tend to fake confidence in interviews and similar situations and it helps! Lovely photos :)

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  2. I would say that on the whole I can be confident, going to client meetings and making my objectives clear is sonething i have to do quite often now, so that's something which I must have improved on over the years, although I'm not sure how.
    Self esteem wise, I have no self-confidence.

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  3. Interesting! I'm definitely a lot more confident now because I had to learn to fake it at work (I also do a communications role; I have to interview complete strangers all the time and had to learn how to put them at ease - can't do that if you're a bag of nerves!). I hadn't thought about it in relation to blogging before - I've wondered if people who know the shy old me see my confident online persona and wonder who I'm trying to kid, but I've never asked myself whether the confident online persona has changed me at all offline. Hmm... *goes off to ponder more*

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  4. I am just like you, faking it until you make it is definitely the way to go! Recently I have been a lot more confident, especially at work and I know that over the years, blogging has helped me immensely with my self confidence!

    Maria xxx

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  5. Really interesting post! I am an introvert through and through but one of the things that annoys me about this is that people are like 'You? An introvert? No way!' But introverts can be confident and social people too, we just value time alone also. When I first started working full time, I was always questioning myself and seeking validation from colleagues and never wanted to upset anyone. However, after nearly 3 years I'm much more confident in having my opinion heard and disagreeing with people. I still hate conflict, but I try to be diplomatic. In my annual review with my boss I had to talk about strengths and weaknesses and I was like 'Ummm, I'm organised?' and my boss was so annoyed that I didn't know/want to shout about my strengths so she reeled off a load of them and I instantly felt more confident about myself. I just need to be more self-aware I think!

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