There’s a reason I go on about self-worth, self-belief and confidence so much. I’ve seen the impact developing these areas has had on my life. For context, and for those of you who may not know my story, any self-belief I had as a kid got knocked out of me in my early teens.
As a young kid I was always pretty shy and quiet, but I did have self-belief. I wanted to be a singer and I was determined to make it happen, asking my parents to pay for singing lessons and spending all my spare time writing songs.
When I was asked to sing solo on stage though when I got to my teenage years though, my belief was shaken. I realised I didn’t have what it took to be a singer and stopped my lessons (I also realised that it was the song writing and writing in general that I enjoyed more).
At this point as well I was getting picked on by the ‘cool’ kids who mocked my hair, called me a ‘freak’ and started rumours about me. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere and no ‘boys’ were interested in me (which sounds silly now, but at that age it felt like the biggest rejection). My mental health took a turn for the worse and I developed an eating disorder.
This illness ripped away any remaining self-belief I had and I, quite literally, wanted to disappear.
Thankfully, over the years and with the support of friends, family and therapy, I recovered. Since my recovery I’ve been working on my self-worth, self-belief and confidence and have come a long way. I’m very much still on my own journey and have wobbles when trying new things, but the more I learn about these areas, the more I understand.
Looking back at some of the ways cultivating self-belief has had on my life… makes me quite emotional to be honest. But the reason I want to share it is because I think we need to see these stories and examples to know that it’s possible. When we know what’s possible, we can start to imagine what’s possible for us. And that’s what I want for you, if this is an area you know you want to work on, I want you to know what’s possible.
So, let’s look back shall we?
It helped me pursue my dream to write
I vividly remember the first time a teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said ‘an author’. Somewhere along the way I got distracted by the idea of singing, but when I put that dream to bed I came back to writing.
I was always pretty good at writing at school, but nothing exceptional. It was just something I did, and indeed something I used to help me navigate anorexia. Writing was like breathing, I needed it. So when college was coming to an end I decided to go ahead and find a writing course to study at university.
I graduated with a 2:1, which was great, but again, nothing exceptional. Having built up my self-belief however, I knew it was something I could do if I just didn’t give up.
So, even when working in other industries (including a long stint in retail) I wrote. I wrote on my blog, I wrote for online magazines, I did internships, I interviewed bands and fashion designers. I stumbled along the way, got some pretty horrendous feedback at times, but the belief I had in myself kept me going.
Eventually I found the job at the company I’m at now, a job where I could write every day about subjects I care about and get paid for it. The ultimate dream. And now this job has evolved and I get to be published in a magazine every month.
I honestly believe that without the belief I had in my abilities as a writer, I wouldn’t be in this position.
It helped me find my voice (and use it)
As well as believing in myself as a writer, cultivating self-belief helped me realise what I had to say had value – whether in a piece of writing or in a meeting at work. When something came up at work and I had an idea or thought about it, I tentatively started sharing it.
I began to trust myself and my opinions. This didn’t mean I was never wrong, but it gave me the confidence to speak up. In more recent years, this self-belief has helped me find my voice outside of work too, from exploring feminism, body politics and social justice, it’s given me the boost I needed to speak up about difficult subjects.
I no longer hide my opinions when someone I’m talking to has differing beliefs. I don’t provoke unproductive arguments, but I’m happy to debate or agree to disagree rather than stay quiet. Hiding who you are and what you believe is exhausting. Having self-belief lifts this weight and lets you be who you are.
It let me make mistakes and learn from them
Having the confidence to speak up, use your voice and pursue your dreams doesn’t come without risk. Every time you do this, you risk getting it “wrong”, making mistakes and even upsetting others. Having this core sense of belief though gives you a sense of safety.
You know that even if you do get it “wrong” you can learn from it and move forward. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve tried things, they’ve failed, but I keep going. I keep trying. Not because I’m a sadist (promise) but because deep down I know I can. And because of the point below…
It helped me find my purpose
Building my self-belief over the years has helped me realise that more is possible and led me to my purpose of wanting to help others struggling with their self-worth, self-belief and confidence.
I remember the moment I realised more was possible in terms of my career. I was at Blogtacular (a blogging conference) listening to Emma Gannon giving a keynote speech. She was talking about blogs and how they didn’t just have to be ‘blogs’, but instead a platform you can build on.
After writing self-help content for so long, I realised I wanted more. I wanted to give tailored support, I wanted to help in a real way. That’s when I decided to train to become a coach and try something new. I’m still finding my feet in this industry, but my self-belief is keeping me going.
It helped me be more decisive and productive
All the work I do for Blue Jay, from creating content to coaching, is all done on the side of a day-job. I generally have about a day and a half a week to dedicate to this business and I’ve had to learn that I cannot do all the things and that my journey to grow it will be slower than others (and that’s OK).
This all means I have to make pretty cut-throat decisions about how to spend my time and what to spend my time doing. I don’t have time to second guess myself, procrastinate and hold back because of fear. And of course, fear does still come up for me.
But, having belief in my abilities makes it easier to make decisions and push ahead with getting them done. I do still have wobbles from time to time and I definitely lean on the support of others at time, but on the whole, I feel like I get much more done when I’m feeling confident in my message and how best to communicate it.
There we have it, a quick look back at some of the ways self-belief has shaped my life. I’d love to hear from you on this, how has self-belief shaped your life?
And if this is an area you’re looking to work on, my build: self-belief coaching package is designed with you in mind. Find out more on my coaching page and get in touch if you want to learn more about working with me.
I’ll be back next week with the season finale of Seedling and a blog post about navigating growing pain. Until then, take care.
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