Post-Uni Lifestyle

The Strength of Your Confidence Should Not Be Placed in Someone Else’s Hands – A Reflective Piece

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I’ve already attempted to write a blog post twice this month, but the words weren’t coming out right. Third time’s the charm, eh?

Let’s talk about the link between self-love and self-confidence.

“You’re pretty dang cool, my G!” – How I want to look at myself in the mirror everyday.

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

It Begins

I’ve realised that looking for external validation only is definitely not the way to go. Obviously I knew that deep down, but it smacked me in the face recently. It was a few things that just came together at the right time. A talk with a friend, a discussion with a sibling, a few application rejections, and a dash of inner-reflection.

Relying on external validation is a dangerous game, because when you don’t get it where it counts, you’re left with deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.

A Talk with a Friend

The talk I had with a friend revolved around work and the relationships that we have with co-workers. Sometimes these relationships are great and make you love working with your colleagues, so much so that you actually have to weigh it up if you’re thinking about leaving your position. Other times, they can be the reason you leave or consider leaving a role.

I have had both situations pop up in my career. But I find that my most recent role had the benefit of having a team of people that were pretty decent. So much so that I was weighing my relationship with them up when thinking about leaving the role during my furlough period. I decided against leaving for a few reasons:

  • The relationship I had with a bunch of really nice, hard-working people,
  • The feeling that I needed to complete my apprenticeship, and
  • The rampant instability of the job market during 2020/21.

I always harboured the fear that I had made a mistake and that no matter what my loyalty to the company represented; whether it was fear of moving on, or a genuine sense of passion for the organisation, that I would be let go anyway. As my last post stated, I was let go eventually… and it hurt like hell.

A Confession

I’ve yet to admit it – but I was heartbroken. Even thinking about that feeling again brings tears to my eyes. I spent the better part of 2 weeks crying every time I thought about losing my job. It’s a traumatic experience to be laid off, but it stings when you realise this company was the first… THE FIRST company that said “we want you”. Sure I’ve been accepted for jobs before, but they never felt like such an accomplishment to me.

Maybe it’s because this was my first full-time role and I was finally able to show them my potential. I didn’t feel like it was a handout or a done-deal like previous roles I’ve held. It felt like something I did actually worked, instead of backfiring. After 9 long months of job searching, which I purported to be the worst period of my life, I finally did it.

This place gave me the most support I have ever felt in a role, but it didn’t feel like my hand was being held. My colleagues were nice, funny, considerate, and they were great people to collaborate with. I actually felt myself grow as a person and face some of my fears – especially incoming phone calls. I don’t know about you, but when a phone rings and it isn’t on silent, it scares the crap out of me. When I was there, I got rid of that flinch I used to get when a phone starts screaming to be held.

What I’m trying to say is… this job meant a lot to me and I had to take a bit of time to mourn the loss. The loss of something so formative in my development as a professional and as an adult. Yes I have mentioned in previous posts some of the gripes I had, but as they say, you never know what you have ’til it’s gone. And boy howdy, do I know now.

The Next Step is N/A

Looking for a new role sort of feels like a betrayal, even though I know I need to. I knew I needed to before, due to the instability of the hospitality industry and the company, but I still didn’t.

And my newest fear; on top of the struggle of job searching as a whole, is that I will never find that type of place again. From now on, I’m destined to find places where my co-workers are the reason why I leave. Where managers are rude, unappreciative and abusive. Where I will feel my soul die over and over again when I wake up each and every Monday morning.

All of this anxiety is stopping me in my tracks every time I want to apply for a job. Forget recruiters and employers saying no, I do that for myself before I even give myself the chance to try. Let me show you the process I go through:

  • Find a job listing for a role I can do
  • Look at the description of the role
  • Find a requirement that I don’t fit
  • Close the job listing page.

I shouldn’t be looking for what doesn’t fit me, I should look for what does. If there is one requirement that I don’t fit, I should show the recruiter/employer how I can make up for it in my cover letter. The problem is that I don’t really do well with the whole showing-off thing, at least not in front of authority figures like interviewers and the like.

There’s a thin line between confidence and cockiness and I’ve seen myself step over it maybe a few times in my life. The possibility of it screwing up my chances of landing a role are what puts me off writing a cover letter. It’s like anxiety-induced writer’s block. But I’m trying to change my approach by trying to love myself again.

A Discussion with a Sibling

The discussion I had with my sibling centred around the idea that letting people’s words stop you from living your life confidently isn’t the way forward. Sometimes we have to be our own cheerleaders and block out the negative energy coming from other people. We shouldn’t define ourselves based on some passing comment that was made a long time ago.

And most importantly, extend yourself some grace. If you know you’re trying your best, it’s all you can do. If you can’t understand your impact on the world, the people around you can tell you how much you matter and how much you do. Personally, I find it hard to see my own accomplishments, but with a bit of friendly external insight, I’m able to.

This conversation was struck up based on an incident that happened a few years ago. A former manager said something negative about me within earshot, and it changed the perspective I had on myself. It started a bout of mental fisticuffs with negative emotions that I’m still battling today.

The Incident

An irate customer called the office I was temping at, and was shouting down the phone about wanting a refund or something. Something happened as I was trying to get a grasp on the situation, understand the problem and keep myself and the customer calm.

Due to my difficulty dealing with uncomfortable situations, a few nervous giggles slipped out. This customer of course doesn’t know me from Adam, so he assumes I’m laughing at him and his misfortune with this company.

He shouts at me some more and asks for my manager who is sitting one desk over from me. I put the call through and she says to the customer “Sorry about that, sir. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”

Now, practically every time I laugh, speak or write, I feel like I’m annoying someone. Maybe that’s why I hardly post on social media? I have issues with confidence and loving myself for who I am because I think there must be something wrong with me. The most constant thought I have is “Why can’t I do anything right?”

I don’t even reach out to friends often because I don’t want to bother them. Most of the time, I just keep to myself and stay bottled up. Then it probably seems like I overload people once in a while with my woes, writing “essays” like this one for them to slog through.

Starting the Journey

In the past, I have tried to combat the negative feelings, the issue with posting online often and the personal “essays” in one fell swoop.

Almost a year ago, I started a third Instagram account dedicated to finding that love again, by taking selfies each day. It lasted about a month, which is a lot longer than I expected, but the exercise became a bit stressful. The concept of changing your mindset is well and dandy in theory, but it’s very difficult, and in this case – mentally taxing.

In some ways I wish I kept going with it. Maybe the pain of losing my job would have been less intense. It’s possible that I may have already found another role by now. But I can’t be mad at myself when the act of taking selfies was taking so much energy out of me.

In a way, stopping the stress of needing to take pictures everyday and come up with a cool caption was self-care and self-love. But at least I know now that confidence comes from within, and this journey was only the beginning of the change I’m seeking.

A New Route?

Now my approach is much simpler. I’m going to try and forget about the people who have cast doubt on my ability to do things. I will reframe the words they’ve said and use them to spur me on. The aim is to almost completely erase the feelings of inadequacy and inability I have held onto for so long. A little bit will probably be left behind because if I think I can do everything, I’ll probably lose the ability to seek growth.

In At My Wit’s End I mentioned a quote: “The worse thing they can say is no.” Using the finest stationery I own, I’m going to write that and stick it to my monitor, so I can always see it when I’m typing an application. There will be a bit of a twist though – I’ll add “They includes you too.”

If I say no, I won’t get myself anywhere. This period is now top of the list for the worst part of my life and more lows may be yet to come. The one thing I know I can do above all else is to keep going. Even when I get those noes, because they’re guaranteed, I must keep going. If I stop, then of course I can say it’s all over – because I was the one who slammed the brakes.

Confidence. Love. Acceptance. Validation.

It all lies with me.


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By Ade

An aspiring creator in way too many areas, Ade loves to try something new, as long as it doesn't interfere with the balance of the universe too much. Trying to take each day as it comes, Ade edits videos for YouTube, occasionally records podcasts, and writes with strange mannerisms to entertain the world.