Mind the Gap
Despite the Sheryl Sandbergs and Michelle Obamas (and her arms) of the world, being a confident woman is no easy task. It’s not just putting your head down and doing the work, but it’s battling back those feelings of insecurity that creep to the surface.
Women often feel like they’re never good enough, according to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in “The Confidence Gap.”
It can be demoralizing and self-destructive to let that voice take over, and for some women, it can be hard to climb up that steep hill of self-doubt. “Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities. This disparity stems from factors ranging from upbringing to biology,” writes Kay and Shipman.
Failure is its own reward, so be a risk taker.
Sure, sometimes all it takes is listening to Demi Lovato’s “Confident” on loop or buying schoolboy blazers, but there are other tricks and tips to help quell those feelings.
So, in a rather unscientific study — but a very #LeanInTogether type of experiment — I reached out to a few of my friends who are Beyoncé-level fierce — smart, successful, and undeniably aspirational — to see how they tackle their own confidence issues.
Know your value.
Maria Gallucci says as a reporter it can be hard not to compare herself with other journalists “whose accomplishments stretch for miles.” When she’s in a funk, Maria reminds herself “that my true value isn't just the sum of my accomplishments,” she says.
“And when I remember that, I have plenty to be proud of and plenty to bring to the table.”
Confidence isn’t only about feeling good about yourself but it’s also believing in yourself, so Emily Hanna Mayock, who works on the communications teams at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, turns to her “Good Things” folder.
“Every time someone compliments me on my work, personality, attention to detail, I store that email,” she explains. “When I'm feeling down on myself, I go back and re-read one or two of those emails for an instant reminder that, hey, I am awesome.”
Ask for Feedback.
At Chipotle, where Katie Hanna works as a marketing strategist, the company focuses on empowerment, “and you can’t be empowered unless you're confident in your ability and encouraged by your circumstances,” she says.
Katie does this through training, validation, and consistent one-on-ones with her manager. The feedback can be hard to hear but in the end it helps build self-esteem.
Take a Mental (and Physical) Break.
Lara Pham works as deputy director at an NGO in New York. It’s a high stress job, and Lara finds that, along with listening to a Wu-Tang Clan power anthem, “physically leaving the space where I felt my confidence drop helps. I then go somewhere where I can have some quiet to calm my mind and regain some mental control.”
My sister (and role model for life) Chessa Rackovan works in the male-dominated field of dentistry and says those “preconceived notions of what a dentist should look like linger.”
When patients become apprehensive after she introduces herself as their dentist “that’s all it takes for me to feel self conscious.” She shuts those thoughts out, stops dwelling on them, and “looks ahead at what's next, and if all else fails, I drink some wine and then I'm my favorite person, dentist, mom.” Words to live by.
Failure is its own reward, so be a risk taker. Women are generally risk averse and “tend to stick to the status quo,” says Warrell.
My true value isn't just the sum of my accomplishments.
By stepping outside of your comfort zone, the accomplishment (or failure) can be a great ego boost.
I’m not a musician, for instance, but I recently taught myself how to play (a small bit of) “Call Your Girlfriend” on the piano—giving me mental fatigue and the musical sweats but ultimately turning a seemingly impossible task into a rewarding action (and a great party trick).