“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher
As a young girl, I always struggled with fear and worry. I’d stay up at night, worrying about any number of things that could possibly happen to me, to my family, to the house we lived in. The fear took a toll on my confidence. Who can be self-assured when they’re constantly worrying?
As I grew older, the anxiety never went away. I went to college, got my first job, bought a house, and had a baby, all with the fear following me around, reminding me of the worst that could happen. But somewhere along the way, as my worries were proven unsubstantiated again and again, I began to conquer the fear. Not without the help of therapy and modern pharmaceuticals, but slowly over time I started building confidence.
I’m not sure how I got here. It certainly wasn’t any kind of “She’s All That” awkward ugly duckling-turned-swan moment. But, as an avid theatre-lover and “drama club kid,” I think I largely became confident through my time on stage.
Once, I was cast in a role that was a Big One. Lots of songs, lots of dancing, lots of lines, and all outside of my comfort zone. I called my mom to share the news. “Mom, this is way more than I can handle,” I confessed. And she gifted me the best advice I’ve maybe ever gotten, “Sweetie, your comfort zone is a safe place, but nothing ever grows there.”
So I accepted the role and put in the hard work. I showed up to rehearsals on time and prepared. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and relying on the people around me to guide me. As I walked offstage after the final performance, I remember taking a moment to myself in the wings. “You did it.” I thought to myself. No one could take that accomplishment away from me. Since that time, I’ve sought out experiences that have made me excited, but also a little bit scared…that’s where the big magic happens.
That’s not to say that my confidence hasn’t been shaken. There have been times when I was certain I’d fail. Imposter Syndrome is real (especially for women) and when that happens, I “just keep swimming” and surrounding myself with people who will guide me, push me, and give me the tough love I need to hear. And just as Carrie Fisher says, the confidence slowly follows if you just keep showing up.