Author August: Rosalind Jana – Learning the Art of Self-Confidence

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

When I was a teenager, it took me a few years to realise that if I was praised for something, be it a skill or an excellent skirt, I didn’t need to hedge or go “umm, thanks, but, you know…” or “no! Don’t be silly!” I learned to own my compliments, to be content in what I was doing, to refuse to be apologetic for anything I’d invested time and effort in. As a young woman, sometimes it seems like you tread a hard line between confidence in what you do and risk of being seen as ‘full of yourself’.

RosalindHere’s the thing: part of your identity should DEFINITELY include pride in whatever you do well though, whether it’s being an expert baker or whip-smart clever at maths – or both. Of course, within that there’s always room to learn and improve. That’s how we get really great at anything. I look back at writing from several years ago, and can chart just how much I’ve developed since – partly through practice, partly through listening to others. I’ve always sought out people willing to be brutal, in a good way. They’re the ones who’ll show appreciation where it’s due, but also hand out frank constructive criticism too.  

When you do achieve something especially ace though, you’re more than allowed to have moments of going “wow, aren’t I fabulous?” Of course, there’s a massive distinction here between knowing your own worth, and thinking you’re some glittering gift grandly bestowed on humankind. We’re talking self-confidence and a little faith in your own abilities here, rather than any kind of obnoxious self-interest. But never underestimate the power of pride in your own strengths.

The other side to that? Also knowing that it’s fine to not be the best. In fact, sometimes it’s fine to be the worst, or to be bewildered, or to have no idea what the bloody hell you’re doing. I’d say that was true just of adolescence – a natural time for moments of “What on earth am I doing?” – but plenty of adults experience that too. Worries about life-decisions or what others think of you don’t just vanish the day you hit twenty. And that’s quite alright. It’s human. It’s real. It’s honest.  

The reality is that some things are harder than expected, yes, and various achievements may remain just beyond reach. You may royally muck up. You may get to a point where you think nothing will ever go right again. In one way or another, most of us do experience insecurity and instability. It usually passes though. I’ve had plenty of hugely uncertain times where crawling up into a ball and crying seemed best policy. But each and every episode eventually changed or dissolved with time.   

Notes on Being TeenageBesides, I’d rather be willing to try and fail, and try again and fail again. Not with everything. Much more interesting. Occasionally I play it safe instead, or prioritise retreating to look after myself. But after that point I’ll often see what opportunity I can grasp next, what endeavours I could possibly launch myself into.

I still tangle myself up in knots of self-doubt or self-criticism along the way, feeling that I’m somehow not enough – that I should be more sociable, work more, stop swinging between confidence and self-doubt, be more successful, have a smaller waist, spend less time procrastinating and on and on. I’m not alone. Most of us have an inner list of what we think should be improved. Yet it’s still, bizarrely, a given that we focus on our imperfections, our dissatisfactions, our things-that-could-be-better.

Most of us are doing pretty well in our own way. Hiccups and blips are par for the course. Huge bouts of confusion too. Moments of rock-bottom fear about the future. But among that mix of flux and chaos and standing still for a while, there’s still momentum – and the possibility of things ahead. And regardless it’ll be formative, constructing (and sometimes dismantling) everything that makes you ‘you’.

My personal thanks to Rosalind for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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