There are times when your self-confidence takes a bit of a knock. I don’t think any one of us can classify ourselves as human beings and have never gone through such a phase. And those of us who won’t admit to it, well, deep inside we know you are just like the rest of us; perhaps just a little better at hiding it :)
So the topic of the day is self-confidence; self-belief, the inner drive to always back yourself even when the chips are down and threatening to make an almighty mess all over the floor.
Sometimes you feel so good that you are willing to take any risk at all. And then there’s other times when you want to curl up under a rock and let the world pass you by.
What do you do in those times?
I am no expert on the matter and I prescribe no remedy or solution for this because I suppose everyone deals with their own demons their own way. So what do I do?
Well, I can be a bit of a comfort whinger. Do you know those types of people who like to comfort themselves with their doubts for a few days (okay, sometimes even weeks!) and then slowly let go of them like a baby grudgingly loosening its grip of a toy? That’s me right there! I am so good at nursing and nourishing my doubts and yes, sometimes even feeling sorry for myself.
Ridiculous right? What’s there to feel sorry about? What’s there to doubt?
I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to the way the mind works, and more specifically, to the way that it can churn out lies about everything when used unproductively. In other words, an idle mind with too much time to think about nothing can be used to great effect to destroy its owner. This is why sometimes one failure can become so exaggerated in one’s mind that it feels like the sky is falling and along with it are all your dreams. This is also why one small challenge can be blown up to feel like a life and death issue when all it really is is … a small challenge!
The mind works like the light does in casting shadows on a wall. Your hand placed in the right position against the light can cast a silhouette that looks like five tall men parading across your wall, and not just your five fingers stretched to impossible lengths. The mind can make the biggest giants out of the smallest ants.
And so what to do? Or in this case, what do I do?
Well, after the nursing period, I realise that self-pity gets heavy. You drag your feet more when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. You struggle just to open your eyes to start a new day. You don’t care much for how you look or how tidy your room is, what you eat, how you smell, whether your brushed your teeth all day. And with that heaviness you realise something; you are simply not loving yourself! And if you can’t love you, then who should?! Now that’s a rhetorical question because I trust and pray that every one of you reading this has at least one person they can be certain of gaining some unconditional love from regardless of how you look or smell! And if man should fail you, there’s always always God. In fact, He’s the starting point.
So when it all gets too heavy, I throw the pity and doubt off my back. Sometimes it’s easier than others because on some occasions, it’s more like throwing off bits of it slowly as I go along. For instance, I eat a good meal to show love for myself, or I do something good for someone else to remind myself of the fact that my good energy is beneficial not just to me, but to the rest of humanity. And oh yeah, there are times when you have to fake yourself happy until you believe it. I did that just a few days ago because it was a friend’s birthday and having a sad sack at a party would not have been cool. So I smiled and made chit-chat with everyone there until I must have absorbed enough of their good vibes to vibrate my own. By the time I got home, the contentment had truly sunk through and I was back on a gun-smoking roll!
However, the most important thing to do in moments of despair is simply to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. I bet you can’t finish them all off and don’t even know where to begin! Today, I have a comforting memory that I am going to make my focus in fending off any despair or doubt. It’s my blessing of the day and I want to share it with you.
It’s been almost two years now that this happened, but it reminds me of how much potential I have inside myself. When I applied for the scholarship programme that I am currently on, I realised that it would be a tough process. After submitting an initial written application, the adjudicators then sifted out about 100 suitable candidates for the next round. (The original number was over 300, I believe). Round 2 required more written submissions and after further adjudication, the number of candidates was whittled down to perhaps 30. At this stage, the candidates had to have physical interviews with the judges.
I remember sitting in the reception area waiting for my noon appointment, having not the faintest idea what questions would be asked of me, and by whom. As I sat there, I made small talk with some of the other people waiting. I noticed that I was the only female in the midst of about 10 or so chaps. Of the ones I got to talking to, I met a medical doctor based in Lesotho, a guy who’d developed a hybrid drought-resistant maize seed and a civil engineer. My jaw hung loose into my chest with awe.
And then that little ant called doubt hit a bit of light in my mind and blew up to the size of a combine harvester (heck, what else could do better when you are in the company of a cutting edge agriculturalist?!) While I appreciated that I was doing important work, I couldn’t quite think of a way that I could show the judges’ panel what change I was bringing about, unlike these guys. Yes, I write a lot and talk a lot and work my tail feather off, but I don’t cut people open and fix their kidneys or ever imagine myself feeding the whole of Zimbabwe! No!
But then as that little ant crawled in my mind, I decided that it would only hang out there for a few seconds. The combine harvester shrank back to the size of the ant and finally, I crushed it with words of self-belief. I remember telling myself that I had come so far already and that I would give the interview the best milk and cheese I had.
It was a gruelling interview. About 10 judges sat around a boardroom table scrutinising my application and firing questions that I could never have hoped to prepare for. We talked about freedom of expression in Singapore and its correlation to the country’s GDP; I was asked about media law in Zimbabwe and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and many other places I can no longer recall.
I sure did need that self-belief before I faced that, or else I would surely have choked. And boy, am I glad that I held my nerve, because here I am – two years later – on the cusp of completing my Masters degree. Here I am because I believed enough that I could do this.
I killed the ant then, but it comes back in many different and deceptive guises. I guess it’s just always about remembering what you’ve achieved when you’ve not let doubt get in your way. And you know what, sometimes the best achievement you can get out of the day is that you were brave enough to breathe. Life’s not easy!
And as long you keep on taking in that O2 , this remains true; that you, me, us… WE are capable of so much!