When I was growing up, I heard my mum repeat these words hundreds of times. When I left for university last autumn, I noticed that I’d started saying it myself.
Now, I should probably explain. I don’t go around telling everybody I meet that I’m amazing, and nor does my mum. It would be weird if we did, and would almost certainly come across as big-headed. I do sometimes say it when people ask me how I’ve managed to achieve something, or how I’m coping with six successive deadline weeks because they didn’t think they could if they were in my position. I might say it in jest, I might say it seriously, but I always say it with a grin.
And I’d like to just talk about the power of something as simple as two words like these. It’s hardly news that we live in a world where too many of us lack self-confidence. I’m quite conscious of the fact that throughout my childhood and adolescence, my mum made a deliberate effort where I was concerned to ensure that I wouldn’t fall into that trap. And the best way she could do that was by showing me how to build confidence of my own.
So, over the years, she’d let me in on certain “secrets”. I say “secrets” in quotation marks because these things shouldn’t be secret and aren’t really secret, but they are often hidden. She told me that as a young adult, she was tired of feeling like she knew nothing, so she decided to ask the questions on her mind – no matter how stupid, because usually, somebody else was wondering it too. She encouraged me to ask questions as well.
When I was anxious about presentations, she’d tell me confidence wasn’t necessarily about straight up being confident, but acting like you are. If you act confident, people will see you as confident, and in turn, that will make you confident. It made sense to me. My mum had always appeared confident to me, and people reacted to her as such, because even if she had no clue what she was doing, she would improvise and pretend like she did. (I will make a note: this is not the same as being cocky.)
I like to refer to this particular skill as the ‘art of bullshitting’. I’ve used it many times myself. As a leading prefect, a peer mentor, and a project leader in school. As a group chair at university. Even in every day situations. I truly believe that it is an art form, and a skill.
But you have to build a foundation of self-confidence, and instil in yourself the belief that you can do what you either want, need, or have to do. Hence the phrase at the top of this post: “I’m amazing.” I think this is harder for women than men, and please excuse some generalisation here, but on the whole I’ve found it to be true. Men get into the top jobs because when somebody asks them what they’re good at, they will reel off a list of accomplishments and skills. Women have this idea that we need to be modest and humble, and so we bow our heads and neglect to mention all the things we can do.
One thing you can do to change this habit of shying away is to slowly train yourself to acknowledge when you have achieved something, and to state out loud that it is a positive thing. Just finished your fifth essay in five weeks? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.” Going through a hard time but still functioning as a human? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.” Managed to get a really stiff-lidded jar open? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.”
It’s the small habits, like acknowledging your accomplishments (of any size), that make the difference. And in the spirit of this, here are a couple of TED Talks I found to the same sort of tune:
If you’ve got any tips for confidence, please feel free to comment down below!