So I didn’t blog last week. Who noticed? After seven consecutive weeks of sharing my thoughts and opinions, I didn’t post. So today I give you a blog about not blogging.
Starting this project has been a whirlwind for me. And as an over-thinker, I ran myself through the gamut of devil’s advocate questions: why are you doing this? Do you think that you’re this important? Are people going to think you just want attention? Will people talk about what you’re doing behind your back?
I think we often ask ourselves questions like these when faced with pursing something that we are passionate about. There is a fear that our level of excitement and interest might actually become something to be embarrassed about. Truthfully, how many times have we heard people poking fun at someone for being “too into” something? How many times have we done so ourselves?
I didn’t post for a couple of reasons. One was that I couldn’t choose between a number of topics. Another was that I didn’t have any accompanying photos to use. Now both of these were silly reasons because what I was really worried about was what people would be most interested in me posting about, and that I needed some trendy picture that I liked of myself (since I had exhausted all my faux-fur coat pics).
I think in the back of my head I decided that if it wasn’t going to be up to my standards, and to some degree of perfection, it wasn’t worth posting. Reflecting on this I know that I wasn’t thinking rationally.
The Confidence Gap
Several pieces of research have shown that as compared to men, women don’t consider themselves ready for promotions, qualified enough for new jobs, think that they will perform worse on tests, and in general they underestimate their abilities.
This can have very real consequences for women. More and more studies show that confidence correlates to success just as closely as competence. For example, research conducted by Hewlett-Packard showed that women applying for promotions will only do so if they believe that they fit 100% of the job qualifications. Conversely, men feel confident to apply if they fit at least 60% of the qualifications.
As one article states, “Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect.”
The confidence gap is formed very early in life. The Girls’ Index, published by Ruling our Experiences, is the largest national study of young girls in the United States. The report found the following:
- Confidence declines sharply between 5th and 9th grade (over 20% drop in girls who say that they are confident)
- 46% of high school girls do not believe they are smart enough for their dream career
- 1 in 2 girls don’t disagree with others nor say what they are thinking because they want to be liked
- 1 in 3 girls with a GPA above 4.0 do not think they are smart enough for their dream career
No wonder women like myself struggle today with lack of confidence and belief in their abilities. Starting in just 5th grade our confidence declines – and confidence is a huge determinant of success later in life.
Another concept that comes into play is imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a deep-seated feeling of insecurity or self-doubt that makes one feel like they are a fake, despite there being substantial evidence to the contrary. These feelings are frequently activated after some sort of accomplishment.
Psychologists have shown that those who experience imposter syndrome often convince themselves that they don’t deserve their successes – and that they instead arose from luck or from other’s believing that they are better at something than they really are. This usually manifests through someone not wanting to talk about their successes, or not wanting to claim that they are an “expert.” It makes it hard to own titles like “artist,” “musician,” “scientist,” etc.
For example, I don’t really feel like I can say that I’m a blogger. This is only my eighth post, and I don’t have a substantial following. I could come up with a plethora of reasons to disqualify myself. A lot of times I feel like people probably think I’m trying to be an “influencer,” when in reality I’m just trying to be true to myself and learn something new. And for this I feel like a fraud. What authority to I have to put my ideas and opinions out there in the world?
So I return to the questions that I posed to myself.
Why are you doing this? I’m doing this for me. For the little girl that made-believe that she was a magazine editor and who wrote chapters of books that she never finished. I’m doing this to learn and to find my voice. And finally, I’m doing this because I have seen time and time again that the things that I do give voice to, resonate with people. For me life is about human connection, and finding ways to relate with others based upon our shared humanity. So if I can connect with someone in even a small way, I feel that both of us see benefit.
Do you think that you’re this important? No, I don’t. Which I need to work on. But I do know that I need to remind myself that I am worthy, and that my voice matters.
Are people going to think you just want attention? Yes and no. I’ve had people who have expressed support, or thanked me for what I am trying to do. But I also do know people, even some that are close to me, that believe that I share too much for no reason. But what those people don’t realize, is that it isn’t about me. It’s about giving a voice to those who may not feel as empowered to speak up.
Will people talk about what you’re doing behind your back? Yes. Ironically, I’ve seen time and time again that as an individual comes into their own, and starts to feel comfortable in their own skin, someone has something to say about it. People will make fun of you because you make them uncomfortable in some way.
I think that’s just another test of faith in yourself. You gotta just keep doing you through the shade, because being true to yourself will always pay off in the long run. And if anything, at least I’m giving people something to talk about, and connect over, instead of staring at their phones.
Should I say “you’re welcome?”