Confidence. It’s a confident word. It’s used a lot these days for all kinds of things with both negative and positive connotations. Everyone struggles with it one way or another. Either you have too much of it or too little. I’m one of those who swings both ways (sorry about that… couldn’t resist).
I have been thinking lately about how I define myself and my life. What makes me feel confident and where am I lacking in it? For example; it’s interesting to me that despite the fact I am proud of my decision to leave the workforce to take care of my little boy, I still pause when I fill in forms which ask: “Occupation”. That word confuses and frightens me now that I have to put ‘home maker” or “Full time parent”.
Why? Surely in this day and age, my decision to not have a career outside the home, but to make sure my son has the best possible chance of a future as a well adjusted adult and member of society is a good decision? By that I don’t mean to imply that mothers who don’t stay home with their children will raise maladjusted children, only that my particular child with his own special brand of ‘crazy’ needed an ‘at home’ mum. That’s just the way he works. So why do I pause at that question? Or why do I feel the need to justify the reason I’m not working when a hairdresser or a waxing lady asks me, “So, not at work today?” Or when I meet someone for the first time and they ask me, “what do you do for a living?”.
Rather than just answer, “I’m a full time mum”, I immediately start explaining that I used to be a partner in a business but I had to quit to look after my son who has behavioural difficulties. Then I feel ashamed of myself for telling this to a complete stranger for no reason except to make them think that I am capable of doing more than being ‘just a mum’. Sometimes I wonder if this stems from a need within myself to justify my decision, or whether it’s a side effect of living in Sydney where everyone expects you to give a spectacular answer to that “what do you do for a living” question. Who really knows? What really matters to me is why do I care?! I shouldn’t and I need to get over myself and stop it! So I will. There.
Now back to confidence. Today I decided that I really needed to start trying to find a way to work from home and make some money. I want to do it with writing, but I haven’t enough confidence to let my writing out into the general world for judgement. Then I decided: I’m 36 years old. If I don’t get up and be brave and do this now I am probably never going to! I started looking back through some of my writing and discovered a short story I had written years ago. I don’t even remember writing the thing! It was great! I thought I couldn’t write short stories, but there it was in black and white in my little writing folder, staring back at me with an accusatory tone. It was saying, “Hey! You wrote me! You CAN write short stories! Stop being such a scaredy cat and send some damn writing to someone other than your family!” So I did. There.
I applied for an internship to learn important stuff. Stuff that I probably already know how to do, but I always stop myself from doing things because I think that people will require a qualification or at least some past experience. Now I’ve been a manager, so I know how hard it is to find sane and reliable employees either with a qualification or without! I am both sane and reliable. I can learn pretty much anything and in not too long a time, but it’s just that damn word….confidence which always stops me!
Now the trick will be to kick confidence (or lack thereof) out the door and if I don’t get the internship (a real possibility since I’m soooooooo old), or if people I send my writing to hate it and think it’s crap, I need to just say, “never mind, all good, have a cookie and sit down and send to someone else. Write something else, or learn something else.” And I will. There.