Today I have a personal note on confidence from a recent experience of mine. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
I’d like to think that I’m a relatively confident person, especially compared to my past self. Since middle school, my tendency to feel anxious and unsure combined with my desire for “perfection” has caused my inner critic to check my ego, sometimes to my own detriment. This has made it difficult for me to acknowledge my own successes. Through years of reflection, therapy, and repeated practice, I have been able to improve this tendency in myself.
Still, though, when faced with a daunting task or unfamiliar circumstance, I struggle to believe in my own ability to do it, contrary to the fact that I’ve been able to do every daunting, unfamiliar thing I’ve been faced with before…
Such a circumstance occurred last week as I prepared to take my first ever work-sponsored travel, alone. This was a little scary on several levels. First, I would be driving 8 hours by myself to Boston and back, which is about 6 hours longer than I’ve ever driven consecutively alone… and in Boston, no less, which is notorious for difficult roads. And, I’d be staying in a hotel alone for the first time as well. And, I’d be going into the office for the first time in over six months, helping to coordinate some team events. I was extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this weekend at Calyx, but it absolutely terrified me.
I quite honestly questioned whether I could do it. But, I didn’t give myself the option to back out. I was going to do this, and I was going to make the most of it.
And, I did. I conquered the fear and came out the other side more confident in my abilities than ever before. Some wins to share:
- Successfully drove 8 hours to Boston and back with ZERO panic attacks!
- Checked into the hotel seamlessly
- Navigated through Boston to go to the office and see my friends
- Had lunch with the CEO and CFO of the company
- At that lunch ^ I not only kept up with the high-level strategy conversation, but actively contributed value to it
- I had dinner with my boss and asked probing questions about my position and the business that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to ask
- Went to see friends in Boston and had dinner while opening up about my experiences and asking for their feedback
- Went to Babson and visited my friends there
- In the middle of all this, I pitched for funding for ALT and received MORE than I asked for
Talk about a confidence boost! Amidst all of this, my friends and coworkers were gassing me up as I told them of my successes and challenges throughout the last 6 months. And while I came back feeling a bit exhausted from the increased social interaction, I come away with valuable experiences and a renewed sense of confidence in myself and my abilities.
It’s certainly healthy to have an ego check, but what would happen if you let go of your own fears of not being able to do the things you dream of? My fears didn’t magically go away; I had to face them head-on. The more you do this, the more your comfort zone will expand. And mine expanded quite a bit over the last week with this experience.
- Once you’ve identified what you want to do, don’t let yourself take any excuses to get out of it.
- It’s okay to feel scared or unsure; these feelings are indicators that you are in the process of growing.
- When you face a fear and come out the other side successful, let yourself have those wins and acknowledge your success! Even if in order to do that you need to write a blog post about it… ha
What area are you lacking in confidence right now, and how can you face that fear head-on? For me, here, it was traveling independently. What will you conquer next?