I was recently approached by Greg of AAB to participate in a group blogging event about confidence. I agreed to partake for a few reasons. First, because my brain desperately needed to take a break from the gooey absurdity that is the world of fashion. Second, I was interested as to how I managed to be picked to write about confidence when it’s a quality that I never seriously considered myself as possessing. Finally, I think the questions he asked me were ones that were productive for me to consider at this point in my life.
I would describe myself in many ways: occasionally brash, stupidly daring, generally impulsive, but never really confident. I have always connected confidence with an image of a polished businessman: Coifed, big nose, adorned with pinstripes, briefcase, and an air of importance. You know the type. They give me the willies.
Never had I pictured a confident person as someone that might second guess themselves, or have self doubt; A fact of life that I have to deal with daily, as do most people. But the more I mulled it over, I realized that the mental picture I had tucked in my head of the confident business man with the firm handshake and steely gray eyes was more accurately defined as a picture of gross arrogance. A foolhardy belief that you are always right doesn’t equate to confidence.
That’s when I realized that confidence for me does not equate to the constant unerring belief that your opinions, decisions and actions are “right.” For me confidence is about having faith in you own inner strength. It turns out that I do have confidence in myself. I have confidence in my capacity to deal with the results of my decisions and actions. Even the bad ones. I have confidence in my strength, and my ability to move on, move forward, and leave my past behind me. I don’t berate myself for making poor choices. I think we all have made numerous decisions in our lives that other people would consider ‘poor.’ Hopefully, we will all continue to do so. That’s what makes life happen. I simply learn from them, and move on, and try to improve.
The fact that I’m never completely certain that I am making the right decisions in my life or with my work doesn’t mean that I’m not a confident person. My confidence comes into play in my decision to take chances despite uncertainties. It’s in the assurance that no matter the outcome, because I am a strong person, I will be fine in the end. Even if I fail.
Having that trust in myself isn’t only important to my life, but has been intrinsic to my work as well. It gives me the courage to constantly take chances on designs and ideas. It helps me worry less about the introduction of edgier designs. Even if something flops, my resilience makes me unafraid to try again. As artists, new ideas and designs are something that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. We can’t worry and fret for ages. We have to take that leap, and have faith that whatever the reaction is, it certainly won’t be the end of the world; ours or anyone else’s.
It seems that as I progress through life, the problems I confront become more and more daunting. Most recently I have been faced with the decision of whether or not to start a second business (I will), and possibly move across the country for the second time (also likely to happen). Both are hugely terrifying. I have no clue if I am doing the right thing by pursuing either of these plans, but it’s either move ahead or be stagnant. Take risks or do nothing. So off I go.
Unfortunately, there is no real way for me help anyone become more confident in one blog post. It’s impossible to pass my state of mind on to other readers. It was difficult enough even describing it. My only advice is this:
Take the phrase “look before you leap” quite literally. It says nothing about staring, over analyzing, or worrying. Research, make an informed decision, and then go. Realize that your decisions, even your “life decisions,” aren’t life decisions. Deciding where you want to live, what job you want to take, what you want to ”be” (possibly one of the most terrifying questions of my childhood) are not permanent for-the-rest-of-your-life choices. You can change your mind. Lots of people do. Lots of people have to.
Constantly put things in perspective. It helps. There are so many decisions in life and in business that we agonize over, and in end they make no deep impact on the world or even our lives. After all, who really cares if I list a couple of bad designs in my Etsy shop? Who cares if my business fails disastrously? - Mostly myself. The world at large is certainly not vastly concerned with either possibility. Realizing the relative insignificance of your qualms, issues, and problems does a lot to help you move forward, and take a risk. So what if you fail? You’ll be there to try again tomorrow.
All images via.
For more artist’s perspectives on confidence, you should definitely check out these ultra-talented bloggers and designers:
Designer, Publisher, Producer- Mark Murphy
Artist, Founder of Artist As Brand- Greg Spalenka