“I may not be a lion, but I am a lion's cub, and I have a lion's heart”
- Queen Elizabeth I
We’re baaaack. Since Mondays make us at Boston Glow feel particularly bitchy, it’s only appropriate that we post this series on this most of days. In case you missed Part One, follow the link and feel free to catch yourself up!
This week, we’re on to Bitch Tip #2:
Confidence and courage: learn them.
We’re all afraid of something. And we all have our moments of self-doubt and self-consciousness. But, as cheesy as it sounds, you are stronger than your fears. Overcoming obstacles is a skill that can be learned like any other, with lots of practice and preparation.
I’m a bit of a risk taker, career-wise. My primary job is as a musician, singer, and songwriter, a life choice that requires me to consistently belt my lungs out in front of lots of strangers. People often ask me how I deal with nerves and stage fright (apparently public speaking is our country’s population’s most rampant fear) and the answer is really simple: I practice my little butt off. Not only have I been performing in various arenas (ballet, theater, music, etc.) since I was two years old, which puts me well above the “10,000 hours” of practice that’s generally associated with being considered an expert in any discipline, but I always keep in mind a tidbit that I learned from my days in acting school: rehearsed spontanaeity.
The jist is that you practice something over and over until it’s so ingrained in you that you could perform under any circumstances (good or bad) and make what you’re doing look effortless, natural, and like you’re doing it for the first time. I do have my moments of actual spontaneity onstage, of course, but most of what I do is planned in some way (although you’d never know it.) I play songs hundreds of times at home before I play them in public, because I know that when I get onstage the last thing my brain can comprehend is what chords I should be playing. My fingers need to know what they’re doing at the piano so that I can focus on interacting with my audience and not tripping over my four-inch heels. Do I get stage fright? Absolutely. I get nervous every single time I step onstage. But I overcome it every time, too, because I’ve overcome it a thousand times before.
So what’s the point, you ask? That’s pretty simple, too. Not only can confidence and courage be learned, but even better, you can learn to “fake it ‘till you make it,” as they say, meaning that even if you aren’t feeling your most confident before that big meeting, walking in there with a steady countenance and upbeat attitude might just make you look like you are. Once you’ve take a good look into who you are as a person (refer to Part One) you can start to focus on those areas that might need a little tweaking. And if self-esteem is your personal struggle, there are so many ways to develop it further, like the following:
- Set and meet small, achievable goals. These can be as silly and easy or serious and difficult as you like, but choose things that will bring you satisfaction. Even a task as seemingly unimportant as making your bed every morning can give you a lift and make you feel responsible and super grown-up. Over time, these little things will add up in a big way.
- Learn ways to measure your self-worth outside of things that you can’t control. Too often we fall into the trap of judging our value as human beings according to our success (or failures) in areas like male attention, wealth, status, physical appearance, and more. Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take pride in your appearance and keep yourself healthy, or set ambitious career goals. But the focus should be on you and your attempts, not the results. Because you can control your actions, but you cannot always control the outcomes. You can go on the date, but you can’t make the man fall in love with you. And who cares if he does? If he doesn’t fall in love with you, he’s probably stupid anyways.
- Challenge yourself. Afraid of loneliness? Go to dinner by yourself. Scared of meeting new people? Join a community or volunteer group, a sports team, wine-tasting club, or whatever else interests you. Force yourself to do the thing that you fear you’re not capable of doing. You are capable of doing it- and you might even have fun in the process.
- Carpe diem. You can’t wait for the perfect moment, the perfect time in your life, the perfect person. They do not exist. Wake up in the morning and spend your day being the type of person that you want to be. If that means quitting your job and volunteering in Africa for a year, then do it.
- Stand up for yourself. Remember, if you don’t think you’re worthy then no one else will.
Again, easier said than done, I know, especially for those of us who have dealt with situations where our self-esteem has suffered from disappointments, setbacks, failures, or even abuse. But it might comfort you to know that no matter what you’re going through, someone else has gone through it before.
One of the historical figures I look up to the most, Queen Elizabeth I, is a prime example of an indomitable woman whose life was marked with some pretty upsetting events. Not only was her mother, Anne Boleyn, beheaded when she was two but she was subsequently stripped of her title and legitimacy by her father, Henry VIII (who, you know, ordered Mom’s death order in the first place.) As if that wasn’t bad enough, she was by many accounts sexually assaulted as a teenager, spent a great deal of time during her adolescence under suspicion of treason (and therefore at risk of execution), was imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister, Queen Mary I, and then assumed the English throne at the age of 25 after Mary’s death. While on the throne, she resisted constant pressure from advisors to marry and ruled by herself. During her reign, she established tolerant religious policies (in a country that for numerous years had been marked by religious extremism), defeated the Spanish Armada, avoided numerous assassination schemes (several initiated by the Pope himself), and presided over an era of cultural and artistic growth. Was she perfect? No. But you’ve got to admit, she had guts. And if she can, then you can, too.
Now I want to know what you think. Leave your comments below!