Tag Archives: Confidence

Astericking Ourselves

I play co-ed softball every Wednesday night. Of course, there are more men than women playing. More often than not, the girls play the “easier” positions and bat further down in the lineup. I suppose that fine if it’s based on ability. Game after game, I watch the men walk confidently, making plays and cheering all of their teammates on. They believe the women can play…it’s the ladies who consistently downplay their abilities.

For most of the games, I play catcher, which means I interact with the batters. While there are outliers, the majority of the female hitters get into the box and immediately doubt themselves. “I’ll feel better once I hit the ball pass the pitcher…” “I just want to make contact, I don’t care if I make an out.” I promise you these are direct quotes. It takes all my energy to not to say something! Like I mentioned in my last post, what we think is what we become. I wish these women would believe in their abilities just an ounce more…

My co-ed softball league is one small example. I’ve seen this play out on a bigger stage, like on a panel at a conference. I watched many successful women with meaningful careers asterisk themselves in front of hundreds of OTHER WOMEN who PAID to be there. Let me share some examples from the panel and elsewhere:

  • “I’m sorry if I’m talking to much about XYZ experience..” She said this to a room full of people who PAID to hear about THESE EXACT EXPERIENCES.
  • “I’m sorry we’re having so much fun up here..” Because fun is a bad thing? Especially between two bad ass women? *Insert eye roll*
  • In the subject line of an email: “Notes + Next Steps (sorry this email is so long)..” Wait, you’re apologizing for giving us information we need for the project? Can we all see how crazy this is?!

As women, we asterick ourselves and apologize for everything: Doing our jobs, living our best lives, working hard. I don’t want to hear an I’m sorry from another woman unless she ate my lunch out of the office fridge or murdered someone. Here’s what happens when we continue to “a word” all over ourselves.

  • Our credibility goes out the window. Think about it written out. Would you put an * saying this isn’t really my experience, I didn’t really work hard for this on your resume? I bet not.
  • By saying sorry all the time, when we actually need to apologize (it happens!), the words have lost their meaning. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.
  • By using the “when I” phrase, we’re letting life pass us by. I’ll do this when I’m [skinner, smarter, etc.]. Will you? Why not try it today? Sure, you should train for a 5K if you’re not a runner. We let fear paralyze us into inaction.

The silver lining with astericking and apologetics is that we’re not alone. I personally believe it’s how the majority of women are wired. What that gives us is a community of women who can generate awareness and help each other rise above the fear and insecurity. At work, ask for feedback from someone you trust. Before you blurt out an apology, pause to reflect on what you’re apologizing for. Did you hurt someone? Were you intentionally unkind? You don’t need to dim your light so others can shine. We can all shine together! And anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t worth your energy.

Believe me, I don’t get this right everyday. I still have to hold back from apologizing for being my extroverted, outgoing self. With awareness and a top notch girl gang who holds me accountable, I’m making progress. Come join me and put the apologizing behind you.

Please, Call Me Bossy

Powerful. Ambitious. Bossy. Raise your hand if you’ve been called these words. *Raises hand.* Now tell me, were you viewed in a positive or negative light when someone used these words to describe you? Let me guess…

This post is likely going to trigger some strong emotions, dear reader, but stick with me. Of late, I’ve had what feels like hundreds of conversations with talented, experienced lady friends, who are walking around their respective workplaces walking on eggshells. Many are struggling with confidence or are letting past descriptions dictate how they show up in current roles. I’ve heard “I need to take back my power but don’t want to come off as intimidating” or “I feel like my team needs direction but I don’t want to seem bossy” Insert eye roll here.

our deepest fearLadies, I’m here to tell you, you’re likely going to be too much for some and not enough for others. That’s life. My question to you is: “What words would you use to describe yourself when you’re at your best?” If it’s powerful or ambitious or honest, so be it. These are not dirty words that shouldn’t be spoken. Powerful women stand in their own sun, radiating light for all to see. Ambitious women strive for more and are hopefully bringing others along on their journey. Bossy women don’t take no for an answer. To me, these are all beneficial actions. Sure, there are bossy women who are bitches, ambitious women who sell others out. I hope that’s the minority of women AND we have the opportunity to rewrite this story.

Take a few colleagues who you trust and discuss these words. How are they received in your workplace? What can you do to help other women embrace their power, their ambition? Corporate cultures are hard: typically they’re well-defined by only by a subset of leadership. They’re big on collaboration and you’re definitely working in teams. So how do you bring your powerful, ambitious self to work without ruffling all of the feathers?

It’s a balancing act for sure. I’ve been told I’m too much: too extroverted, too talkative, too honest. So I’ve started having conversations about my big, bold, beautiful personality upfront. Let’s make some agreements on how we’re going to work together so we both claim our power, so I’ll know when to ease up so you can step up. It’s not a magic potion that works every time but it’s absolutely helped. I encourage you to give it a try.

The quote above is what sparked the idea for this post. It was read to me during a coaching class and immediately tears filled my eyes. I pride myself on being authentic, yet if I dim my light because I perceive that others can’t handle it, am I really being my true self? It certainly made me reflect and step fully in my power.

New Body, Who Dis?

Confidence: Hard to explain, easy to lose and connected to most everything we do. Confidence is elusive, one minute we’ve got it and then with the swipe on a social media site, it’s gone. Or maybe, you’re like me and didn’t know real confidence until adulthood.

I’ve been on this get healthy journey since October. Until you forge this path for yourself, you won’t have any idea how much of an impact it makes on your mental and emotional health, in addition to your physical health. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I’m not just shredding pounds but an old identity.Identity

I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I was never picked first for a team during recess. I couldn’t do a sit up or push up during the physical fitness challenges in gym class. I’ve wore a size 16 since I was 12 years old. I could never share clothes with my friends. I’ve always thought of myself as big: bigger in size and in personality. Loud, talkative and dramatic, I often saw my personality as a liability, likely because others told me that, both about my physical appearance and about how I acted. I’ve defined myself this way since childhood and suddenly (ok it feels like suddenly) all of that has changed.

 

With each pound dropped, I’ve found this confidence that’s been hidden inside. I present my point of view during meetings with authority. I find myself flirting (!!!) without a care in the world. I check myself out in the mirror and practically dance down the street to work. At my core, I’m the same person, with the same values and sarcastic wisecracks. But I feel different, like a new world has opened up to me.

I’m slowly starting to shed this old, big identity. It’s really hard to rewrite this script, to look in the mirror and finally like the woman I see. And it’s even harder to stop thinking that my personality is too much. It might be for some and that is on them, she says as her voice shakes. One foot in front of the other, one day at time, I’m building this new, more positive identity.

Presenting at TWN panel

Presenting at the Temple Women’s Network panel in my new Banana Republic outfit!

A big step in this process was to go shopping. I always hated shopping because stores wouldn’t have my size or the dress I loved looked terrible. Avoidance was a key strategy here. It took an alumni event for me to go buy clothes that actually fit. What a feeling to buy a size 12, to love how I look in spring dresses, to buy clothes in Banana Republic…I can’t even describe it!

It took 27.5 years to truly understand what it means to feel confident. Goes to show you that it’s never too late to transform an old identity into one that is more self-serving. Getting healthy has not only changed by physical health, it also improved my mental and emotional well-being. It really has been a mind, body, soul experience that I’m happy to share with others.

Owning 2014

It’s the beginning of January, which means two things: people are dieting and people are blogging about their New Year’s resolutions. It’s the time of year when everyone joins the gym and lists out everything they want to do (or stop doing) for the upcoming year. The new year is also a time to reflect and set goals for the next 365 days.

confidenceI’ve already told you some of my goals for 2014 in my previous blog post. This post is not about New Year’s resolutions but rather about the main quality I want to embody this year: confidence. For me, confidence is something I’ve always struggled with, often second guessing myself and not owning my ideas. Well, that is going to change starting right now.

Within the last couple of months, I’ve read plenty of blog posts and articles about confidence. Five steps to build more confidence and why confidence is important headlines have flooded my inbox. This makes me suspect that many people struggle with confidence. The million dollar question is why? Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with:

1). In general, our society relies on what people think far too much. We ask for second and third opinions for every decision we make. We need to trust ourselves more and go with our gut.

2) Fear of failure absolutely plays a role in lack of confidence. People assume failure is negative and should be avoided. While failure may have negative consequences, it is the best teacher. If you don’ try, you’ll never know what a success you could be.

3) The balance between cocky and confidence is hard so people are afraid to own it. If you act over-confident, people see you as arrogant, inflexible and unwilling to learn. But if you don’t own it, people own itcould see you as weak. The challenge is striking the balance between the two.

Confidence is one of the most important soft-skills that could make or break you in any life situation. At work, it’s tricky to strike just the right balance. For women, if you’re too sensitive, you are seen as weak. If you are too confident, you are seen as a bitch. A man who acts the same way is seen as a leader. It is another challenge all working women face and have to focus on. Seeking advice from more seasoned professionals and being self-aware of your level of confidence could help.

My plan for 2014 is to own it! I want to continue to learn and grow while not being afraid to highlight my areas of expertise. Join me in the journey to becoming more confident. How will you own 2014? Is confidence something you struggle with? Share your thoughts with me!

Millennial Meltdown

“Millennials have been taught to always be right” 

I heard this phrase last week and jotted it down in my notebook. I find the millennial generation, my generation, particularly interesting. This generation is generally born from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s. That’s a pretty wide gap where a lot of individuals fall. We have been titled the “Me” generation, focusing on ourselves, our careers and putting our priorities first. Other words like arrogant, stubborn, and entitled are thrown around to describe this generation.

Millennials have been raised by mainly helicopter parents who wanted to give their children everything. Most were raised to believe everyone got a trophy for participating despite their losing record. The mantra “not my child” has been embraced by our parents. My child could not have possibly done this or that wrong. I am not saying this is every parent or every child, but it is the vast majority, as cited in this Time Magazine article. We were taught to be right.

With this concept in mind, millennials come across with an almost cocky attitude, that they are invisible and that the world owes them something. Now bring that into the workforce or into personal relationships. It doesn’t make for a good time. I’ve observed my generation act this way and have seen their lack of motivation and drive. Certainly, I am not perfect and can fall into the negative stereotype of a millennial. My questions for my readers: When do we as a generation become accountable for ourselves and how do we combat the negative stereotype?

Regardless of how you were raised or by whom, by the time we graduate college, we are adults and are responsible for ourselves. No matter what your parents told you, it’s now your turn to be in charge of your destiny. You cannot blame your parents (or anyone else) for your insecurities, regrets or any other challenges you face. All that has come to you is a privilege you work for, not a right.

For those millennials who fall outside of the stereotype, my advise is to prove them wrong. I realize, easier said than done. But go into every conversation, at work or at home, prepared with your points and questions. Be articulate and confident (not cocky) in your abilities. If you have worked hard, you earned that seat at the table.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the millennial generation and how you personally interact with them. Comment below!

Thank you Summer 2013

With most children starting school today, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on my summer. Obviously, I was pretty busy! The end of summer is just the right time to look back on what you accomplished and set new goals for the fall.

When I was a Resident Assistant at Temple University, at the start of the spring semester, we did an exercise called “stop, start, continue.” As a staff, we listed out activities or behaviors we wanted to stop, to start and to continue.  I thought I’d organize all I learned this summer into those categories.

Stop:

  • Spending money: While it’s perfectly fine to believe in the phrase, “work hard, play hard,” I have to limit how much I spend on extra things. I am still living at home so it’s the opportune time to save. The fabulous ladies at Levo League posted a great article about when to dip into your savings. Wish I had read this sooner!
  • Feeling guilty: More to come on this topic later in the month. But I’m learning to feel less guilty about having a good job, making money, spending time with my friends over my family and vice versa. My life, my time.
  • Freaking out about work: As important as a job is, it’s just a job, not a life. While I love my current job, it doesn’t have to be forever. As the perpetual over thinker, I have to stop obsessing over the future and just keep moving forward

Start:

  • Traveling more: I am fortunate to travel for work frequently but this is different. I want to plan weekends away with my girlfriends and cousins; to visit new places, explore and be curious.
  • Being confident: Expect a post about this soon as well. I tend to downplay my abilities both at work and in my personal life. At almost twenty-three, it’s time to own my awesomeness instead of shying away from it.

Continue:

  • Blogging: I thoroughly enjoy writing and updating this blog weekly. Over the summer, other things took up my time. However, starting now, this blog will be my area of focus. Writing and sharing my thoughts is something I am passionate about so I have to make it a priority.
  • Running: I started running back in March and completed two races. It felt great and I saw its benefits in my body and in how I felt. It’s time to restart and get back into the healthy lifestyle groove.

As you can see, I learned a lot this summer and am so glad I used those sunny Saturday afternoons to grow and better myself. What did your learn from your summer? Do you have any goals for the fall? Please share!

Getting “It” Right

panelYesterday, I was fortunate enough to be invited back to Temple University for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) alumni panel. I was an active member of PRSSA for three years and served on their executive board during my senior year of college. So when their president reached out inviting me to attend, I knew I had to go.

I was 1 out of 5 young alumni who sat on the panel yesterday. We introduced ourselves, spoke about our time at Temple and then answered students’ questions. While the purpose of the panel was to share our knowledge and experiences with students, I know I learned a few things yesterday too.

Temple MadeWhen you first graduate, you are very much against being called an alumnus. It’s the denial phase: I did not graduate, I will be back here in the fall, etc. For probably the first time in nine months, I realized the importance of my alumni status. Not only are my opinions valued, but I have a huge network of other Temple alumni who are willing to help. The lightbulb absolutely went off in my head yesterday. Being an alumnus isn’t a bad thing, instead it’s something I’ve very proud of.

More than anything, yesterday was reassuring and gave me a much-needed boost in confidence. I finally feel like I am getting “it” aka adulthood right. I had students telling me how awesome I was, how well I speak in front of an audience and asking me all sorts of engaging questions. I was reminded that I am successful, that I have a job utilizing the skills I worked so hard to cultivate in college and that it is all coming together. Sometimes it’s nice to hear it from someone else.

Lastly, yesterday was a great example of how paying it forward is really important. I had mentors and help from PRSSA during college. So it was only natural for me to mentor younger members and speak at the panel. Never underestimate the impact you make on people’s lives and make sure to give back what you have received.

Thank you Temple PRSSA for inviting me back yesterday! It was truly a blast!

 

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