Confidence Isn’t A Natural Attribute.

I have so many feelings and I’m still trying to work things out. Why do I feel this way. I’m feeling fragile. Lacking confidence right now. I’ve had the wind knocked out of my sails. Often what comes out of our mouths in words are different to our inner dialogue. Imposter syndrome I think I understand. We are all trying to find our way through our lives and careers. Vulnerability is hard to show, it’s letting down our armour. I remind myself that what I feel, most of us feel from time to time. But then my inner dialogue goes something like this. Nope maybe I am just not up to it.

You see my confidence always lets me down. For many years I lived my life as invisible. During the 70’s, at primary school I looked different. I have some Asian heritage. My dad was born in Australia, I was born in Australia, but the genes show up in my eyes. Funnily when I went to China most Chinese people said I didn’t look Chinese at all, only one tour guide who asked me inquiringly, if I was a ‘mixture’ girl. At primary school it was the total opposite. I looked obviously different to the other kids and let me a tell you they made sure I knew it. I used to pretend in front of them that it never bothered me being the butt of their jokes or teasing but it did. Yep that’s why 40 plus years later I am still writing about it.

It is said all your adult problems stem from your childhood, just look back and the answers will be there. I’m looking back. I was never one of those kids in the cool group. I was likeable but never one of the pretty girls or smart girls, a mover and shaker. At school the popular group in my mind were the movers and shakers. They were the ones that got noticed and opportunity. They seemed to thrive. I always thought they were the lucky ones.

My mum dressed me in clothes bought from boutiques but they weren’t necessarily what the other girls wore and as a young teenager you just want to look and dress like everyone else. I had the expensive private girl school shoes but I went to a government school. I wanted the school shoes all the girls at that school wore. Nope mum insisted these were better quality and therefore I should wear them, we weren’t wearing those cheaper shoes.

It’s interesting when I look back that the kind of shoes you wore to school defined if you were a private school girl or public school girl. I didn’t fit with either, I had private school girl attire amongst the public school kids. I think of my parents now and they both dressed really well. I admired them for that. My mum however was a bigger women prior to her cancer diagnosis. She had personally made clothes from a seamstress but she always wore dresses. In the 70’s as a kid, flares and pinstripe pants were big. My girlfriend’s mum worked in advertising, she was cool and often wore a pinstripe chocolate brown suit. She wasn’t as strict as my mum and it was fun being at their house. I wished at the time my mum would dress like Penny. I wished she had a job and was cool like her. My mum was a stay at home mum. There is good and bad in that. I used to look at my friends mum with stars in my eyes, she worked in advertising. How modern, how cutting edge, what a job. All the mums I knew that worked were secretary’s or something like that. Not that there is anything wrong with that but boring I thought. Really when I think of it I can’t really remember what the other mums did.

Fitting in, I just never really fitted in. It affected my confidence a lot! I never really felt like people liked me. I went to three different primary schools over the years my parents divorced and were re starting over again, re settling into new lives with new partners. At the first two primary schools as soon as I made friends I was leaving, The third primary school I was the Asian girl. I was befriended by a coolish sort of girl at high school, well I thought she was. She was tall, thin and confident. She had the cool mum in the chocolate pinstripe suite that worked for an advertising firm! She was more willing to do things with boys than me, and she was the one that went for the boy you liked because she could. She stood out, I didn’t. I think she liked that about our friendship and I just showed up. That’s what I was good for, showing up.

She liked Harry, a, lot! When Harry and I hooked up she phoned me and warned me off him, telling me she liked him and wanted to be his girlfriend. Harry and I were so into each other and we stayed that way until the day he died. It’s one of the few times in my life I have felt seen. I live my life invisible most of the time. I have learnt it to be a safe place. When invisible people can’t see how not good enough at anything you are. People don’t expect anything from you other than to show up. Like not show up and shine, just show up. Show up do your job and go home, show up to an event, be there and go home. I did all that and the only person who saw me was Harry. He saw me despite all those girls who outshone me physically or intellectually. You know that’s all I needed. I was happy to be invisible everywhere else. Then he died. The one person who saw me was gone. It wasn’t until Ted came along that anyone really saw me again. The Lone Ranger, some guy I’d rather forget, had destroyed any bit of self -confidence or self- worth I had in me for a while.

Ted is a kind man and oh so smart. I admire him in so many ways. His career success, his like ability and someone who is just so comfortable in his own skin. Like he truly doesn’t give a shit about what he looks like. Harry also was comfortable in his own skin and very likeable. Both funny. Both ambitious. Both are men who see me and that’s nice. Ted encourages me, he believes in me, sometimes more that myself . I’d love to have his confidence, his intellect. Don’t worry, he can be a pain in the arse and can infuriate me as well, he is far from perfect. He has given me confidence to step outside my comfort zone which has been nice. I have had some good opportunities come my way.

Recently though stepping outside my comfort zone has left me feeling inadequate, a failure and incompetent. Feelings of why can’t I be like the confident girls, the ones who get promotions. The ones I sat at a table with yesterday who looked so confident and when my turn to speak my voice quivered. I felt like I didn’t belong there. I was nervous. I was nervous I’d let my colleagues down, them down by saying the wrong thing. My nerves got the better of me and I literally could hear my voice shaking as I spoke. I did speak and said what I needed to but not with confidence, not impressively like I was owning my words. Nope. I felt so annoyed at myself. I had let myself down. It was a moment to be confident and yet, nope I was a quivering mess and I think they could hear the nervousness in my voice! Cringe. Why couldn’t I just be one of the confident girls for once. So many years have passed from those school days, yet a the school girl in me is still deep inside. I wanted to just run away.

I recently started a second job that I know I had the intellect to do what was required, but once again my nerves got the better of me, I was stumbling but bravely asking for help, however the person who offered their help, the senior got a tone of frustration in her voice. I felt small, useless. I wondered why I tried, stepped out of my comfort zone. The same week I had been nominated for a medal of excellence in my field of expertise, but all this was brushed aside by this sense of failure. Trying something new. I was so enthusiastic when I applied but left that last day on the verge of tears. I left like a wounded animal hobbling back to it’s place of safely.

Today I am at home, invisible from society. It feels so comforting, like a warm blanket wrapped around me. I’ve retreated. It feels nice but weirdly not also. It’s nice because I don’t have to try to fit in anywhere today or hope that’s nerves don’t overcome me. On the other hand it’s unsettling because I feel on both occasions I had the capability but nerves took over. Gosh I have just had a thought, do I suffer a bit of anxiety. I never have thought of myself as an anxious person. I wanted that senior to think well of me, instead she appeared frustrated. I wanted to show those colleagues a couple who were Directors that I was someone confident, someone who could be relied upon in that moment, yet on both occasions I buckled from nerves.

So I will return to work in my role I have done for many years, another invisible role within my organisation, and be happy that way. It’s funny because I believe in the concept of positivity. I downloaded an App on my phone that sends me messages of positivity throughout the day. As I was driving home that day I was on the verge of tears the quote popped up on my Apple Watch screen, YOU HAVE DONE YOUR BEST, YOU ARE ENOUGH. It made me smile because in that moment I needed to read just that.

At the moment I read that, I thought to myself, I have done my best and that is enough. My mum always said to me when I would be disappointed with my school grades, you can only do your best, that’s all you can ask of yourself. Followed by, if you aren’t doing your best then you will know it. I knew at that moment in the car, I had given it my best. In my thoughts I said so you are enough. I came home and wrote and email of resignation, sat on it overnight and at 7 am the next day pressed send. I had tried, but failed yet I know I had done my best. Any further humiliation I couldn’t withstand. My best wasn’t enough for that senior but was comforting for me because as mum would say, you can only do your best.

Yesterday when my voice was quivering from nerves, I know I was doing my best. The school girl voice of ‘not being ever good enough’ continues to be the overwhelming dialogue within. But I have been giving it my best shot and that’s all I can ask of myself. I’m trying. I have had some wonderful opportunities lately. I was recently a nominee for an award and in my nomination it read, I was recognised as a national expert. So easily though a couple of experiences flood me with doubt of my abilities. Today as I ran on my treadmill, watched a Tele series and had a visit to the hairdresser I thought if I hadn’t put my resignation into that senior that had me on the verge of tears last week, I would have been doing that job today and who knows what I would be feeling like, maybe amazing but maybe not. Being invisible isn’t all bad. Sometimes it feels better than the pain visibility can bring, embarrassment, feelings of inadequacy, and incompetency. Confidence is a work in motion. I am who I am. I’m at least giving it my best and that is enough. Sometimes we just want to step back into our lane and be comfortable for a bit.

Love Lucy

Your best is enough

3 thoughts on “Confidence Isn’t A Natural Attribute.

Add yours

  1. I think of you as one of the smartest most confident nicest people I know isn’t it funny that we are the hardest on the person we should be proudest of. You are always enough and you also bring a brightness to any room you enter Your gorgeous smart and nice !!!! Your the full package


  2. I think of you as one of the smartest most confident nicest people I know isn’t it funny that we are the hardest on the person we should be proudest of. You are always enough and you also bring a brightness to any room you enter Your gorgeous smart and nice !!!! Your the full package

    Liked by 1 person

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