Tonight during my drive home, speeding down the speed trap that is San Vicente, I realized I am a writer. I am a writer. Not just a blogger or pubescent poem curator. But a writer. I've been published, and now I have a job that pays me to write copy. Holy. Crap.
I've wanted to be a writer my whole life. In high school, however, I could barely make sense of my thoughts, let alone put them on paper to formulate coherent paragraphs. My AP Literature teachers and fellow students always gave me the same feedback: "What? I'm confused."
In their defense, I was, too. I had no idea what I was trying to say or who I really was. I was so in awe of those who did. But after 26 years of practice, I am a motherf*cking writer. I have figured out my voice.
On top of this accomplishment, I've been told by others that they admire my confidence. I'm sorry, what? And then I realized, somewhere along the way of faking it, I suppose I actually made it. Or, at least, convinced enough people I had.
I am a fraud. I am not confident. I walk into work thinking, "Good Lord, they're going to figure out I have no idea what I'm doing." I talk to my mom and think, "Well, this is it. Mom is finally going to figure out she has a super uncool daughter." I hang out with my friends and hope today is the day they don't find out I have no real idea what I want out of this life. Is it babies? A career? A husband? A mini pig? Travel? I have no clue.
But the thing is, if I were to relay this lack of confidence to others, it would only do my career and I a huge disservice. None of us really know what we're doing. If we do, then we've probably plateaued and no longer wake up challenged. My personal trick is to stay busy and consistent, so as to never have a moment to second guess myself. Apparently, this tactic has served me well.
So, despite my fraudulence, here's my step by step guide to faking this 'ish until your faux confidence becomes your perceived reality:
1. Stop caring about what other people think.
This includes parents. Actually, this especially includes parents. Our parents are wise and wonderful, but going after goals separate from what they value doesn't make you disrespectful. Trying to blend what your parents admire with who you want to be can often result in a muddled version of yourself.
2. Don't live for compliments.
Receiving them does not accurately validate who you are. The one distributing the positive sentiment is human and imperfect and inconsistent, just like you. Compliments are more often a reflection of the individual giving them than of the one receiving them. I'm just going to leave that there.
3. Fake it 'til you make it.
Figure out your goals, your idols and your path to success. You know what you have to do, now do it. Regardless of what your ego is saying, you can do it.
4. Care about other people.
When you're stuck in your head and consumed by thoughts of self-loathing, go focus on someone else. Nothing will make you forget your petty problems like volunteering.
Don't have a lot of time? Simply listening to a friend vent will help you rationalize that we all struggle. Constantly. And the struggle is real, man. Talk to yourself the same way you talk to your beloved, struggling friend.
5. Write down whatever's keeping you up at night.
Then get proactive. What are you going to do about your problems? Write down your solutions. Formulate an action plan.
6. Go DO stuff.
Exhaust yourself. Swim, run, bike, hike, go to the movies, eat dinner alone in pubic. Create an exceptional life for yourself that's not dependent upon others joining you. Find security in yourself and in your solitude.
People are attracted to adventure, and once your friends hear about the cool things you're doing, they may want to join in. In which case, let them. Be inclusive. It's part of being a confident leader.
7. Realize your strengths and weaknesses are two parts to the same coin.
You cannot eliminate your weaknesses and still be the cool human your friends and family love. For example, I'm very impatient.
In the last month, my friends, mom, boss, Starbuck's barista, roommate and pastor have all told me I need to be more patient. I let them know it's a virtue I'm working on. I fake it a bit and sit there quietly pretending I'm not thinking about 100 other things. However, It's also the reason I accomplish 30 things before most people wake up. I wouldn't trade my early mornings for the world, so I'll take the well-intentioned critique as graciously as I can muster.
At some point, I decided that I no longer care. I have goals which trump all else. They trump what my parents think, what my friends think, what my haters think. I do what I believe to be right, regardless. I encourage you to do the same.
8. Stop apologizing.
But also, apologize unabashedly when you really hurt someone.
9. Accept your flaws, not the just double sided ones.
Let's take a moment to appreciate that I have a large head. Were there to one day be a zombie apocalypse I would survive because I'm a badass. But due to the size of my head, I would also be a huge target. I'm sure that, to a zombie, it looks like there's a lot of brains in there.
This large head size often feels like a life hindrance (i.e. When we need to take group pictures and I have to get in the back with all the tall people despite being only 5 feet 5 inches tall). But then, I look at pictures of Miranda Kerr and Tyra Banks and feel better.
I accept you, Large Head.
10. Talk to your friends about your insecurities.
Chances are they feel the same. I'll never forget when I confided in my best friend that I thought my belly button was too large. But lo and behold, she thought the same about hers. We had a moment, and then the next day she came with me to get my bellybutton pierced. Now I look at my oversized, periwinkle belly button with love.
11. Recognize that waiting for perfection is a waste of your youth.
You're perfect just the way you are, so you might as well keep grinding.
12. Just do you.
Consistently. People will eventually come to expect you to act as you do, and it will no longer be an issue.