Do you ever have days (or whole years, entire decades) where you feel like that rooster in the middle, attempting to prance around with the pretty pink flamingos, hoping no one notices that you look decidedly different?
I sure do. In fact, I’ve felt “different” my entire life. I wanted to be the flamingo, but I just wasn’t. I was the rooster. Even as a young, blonde Marsha Brady look-alike, I was bullied. Yep, I was actually barked at like a dog. I knew that it wasn’t because I was ugly. It had to do with the way I saw the world and my inability to conform to other people’s expectations. Something about me made the flamingos nervous.
It was only once I learned to embrace my roosterness that I started coming into my own, speaking my mind with confidence and passion. I was able to flip the switch on my “otherness” and use it to my advantage.
I noticed something as I was reading through your posts and descriptions on Freshly Press Yourself over the last few days. Amidst all of the wonderfully written, funny, insightful posts, there was an unfortunate amount of hemming and hawing, of devaluing and apologizing. Things like: “I’m not really an expert,” or “This is poorly written” or “Not my best.” Maybe you’re not an expert, maybe it is poorly written, and maybe it’s not your best. But, hang on a sec, lovelies. WHY are you telling us those things? Is it because you’re embarrassed? Worried about being judged?
Guess what? We’re all afraid of being judged. Even those pretty pink flamingos.
Especially those pretty pink flamingos.
It’s natural to feel uncertain when we begin something new. We worry that everyone is so much further ahead of us and that we’ll never catch up. We’re not witty enough, smart enough, experienced enough, pretty enough. But none of that matters. What matters is that we’re not self–confident enough.
Here’s a comment left by a fellow blogger on my Freshly Pressed Post:
I had just stumbled upon your blog from the “Freshly Pressed” page and upon seeing your layout and photo and “About Me” section, was immediately struck with jealousy! As someone who just started a blog and is still very much figuring out its direction, I thought, now THIS is what a blog is supposed to look like; it is perfect in a way mine never will be…why am I even trying?! Then I read your entry and realized how right you are about how misleading only parts of the ‘picture’ can be.
Umm, guess what guys? I also had no idea what I was doing when I started this blog. I had a vague concept and a strong desire to voice my thoughts. I had an idea for a photo shoot. I worried that people would think my cupcakes and my pig were stupid and that I looked silly. But if I’ve learned one thing in my thirty years of life, it’s this: No one really knows what they’re doing. Everyone is, to some extent, faking it.
Fakers. All of us.
Those guys who barked at me were faking it. They wanted to look cool so they picked on me; they used it to leverage their own popularity. And then those bullies grew up, and one of them wrote me an emotional apology email a few years back. And, even though it shouldn’t have mattered anymore, it made me feel better. Because we all want to be liked…
Which is why we tend to swing wildly between self-doubt and over-confidence and have a tough time locating that sweet spot in between. Think about the blogs or books you like to read, the people you admire and look up to. They probably all have something in common: they’re confident but not arrogant, humble but not self-effacing. They believe in themselves and position themselves as authoritative and ever-curious. Most importantly, they are 100% authentic.
When you say things like, “I’m not really an expert,” you are teaching people to doubt your authority. By talking yourself down, you’re diluting and possibly destroying all of the great content you’ve worked so hard to create.
Don’t do that. Believe that what you have to say holds merit. Because it does. Confidence allows you to take wonderful risks.
I really like this quote from Alan Alda:
“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.”
Embrace your roosterness. Believe it or not, other people actually want to hear what you have to say. So don’t hold back. Climb off of those ridiculous stilts and crow, baby, crow.