If I Don't Believe in Me, Then Who Will?

Published on 12/2/2020

2021 is coming and let this be a year of success, a year of growth, but most importantly, a year of confidence. You need to stop waiting for the time when you will start supporting yourself, for the achievement that means you’re good enough. You’re good enough, so start tooting your own horn! I have spent too many years doubting myself, never feeling good enough. I yearned to share my writing and achievements but feared seeming like I was bragging or immodest. Enough is enough. It is time to start being your own cheerleader as if I don’t believe in me, why should anyone else?

You can do anything, but not everything.

We are a generation of opportunity; we can do anything we put our mind to, that’s the motto of the millennial. Side hustles are increasingly common, it seems like each week a new Multi-Level Marketing scheme slides into your DM’s (Hey girrrrrrl…), and everyone wants more out of their life than ever before. Kathy is selling her pottery on Etsy, James features music on Spotify and Louisa runs a Mummy blog. Everyone is doing incredible things, and instead of fuelling us further, that can lead us to feel like we can’t. We view fellow creatives as competition as if there is only so much possibility and creativity to go around, and they’re hoarding more than their share. We need to start supporting fellow creatives, rack up the good karma or passing their song along to someone who will like it, of buying one of those lopsided pots. Because when it’s your turn, they’ll remember it, they’ll do the same right back. We also need to support fellow creatives because it’s another way of supporting ourselves if you can believe in them, then why can’t you believe in yourself?

We applaud people taking on a different hobby or passion, but only one, more than that and you’re spreading yourself thin, more than that and you’ll never truly make it. You’re not putting in the hours then, time spent writing for your blog is not the same as time spent writing your novel. We poke holes in the passion; we search for reasons why we, or they, won’t make it. Those aren’t difficult to find once you start sniffing around with a magnifying glass, but here’s the secret: they don’t mean anything, just like reasons why someone should succeed don’t mean anything. It’s luck; it’s sheer chance. It’s the right person stumbling onto your song or blog, someone in the relevant person or with a large enough following. You can influence chance, you can buy more lottery tickets, but all those reasons why you shouldn’t succeed won’t matter either.

Only When You’re Succesful

People often say that to get a publishing deal in today’s climate; you need a social media following to be noticed, to prove that you can market yourself. I dread making one, even though it could help me to achieve everything I have ever wanted. I’m happy to market my book once I’ve signed with an agent, to create a page dedicated to me, because then I’ll have the confirmation that I’m good enough. If someone else recognises it, I’ll allow myself to do so as well. But it’s too late by that point; the work needs to be done now.

People won’t consider themselves a writer until they’re published and acknowledged, but what does a writer do? They write, they create, exactly what you’re doing. Outside validation will not make you a writer or artist or whatever you hope to be, so you need to stop depending on that. And it isn’t just an internalised thing, we’re degrading to people who want to be an actor until they’re successful, and then they’re suddenly shoved to the top of the pile, above all those ‘safe’ jobs we previously urged them to take. Why is success necessary to achieve the label and respect for it? If you rely on external factors to determine your ambition and right to call it that, you will never be successful, even when you are.

It’s a Girl Thing

I never knew I was ambitious until recently, even though it now seems glaringly obvious. I think a large part of this was being raised as a girl. People didn’t assume we would be as successful; we weren’t pushed in the same way. They were too busy telling us how to look and how getting married would be the best day of our life. Does no one say that to a man? Your wedding will be the happiest day of your life. They might say it for the day his child is born, which makes sense, but their worth is never placed on a single party the way it is for their bride-to-be.

We weren’t raised to believe in ourselves. Doubt was taught to us before it was to our male counterparts. We were led to doubt our bodies, our sexuality, our right to an opinion. We were never urged to speak up in a room; confidence was mistaken for vanity; leadership was bossiness. It’s no wonder that we don’t feel secure in ourselves and our passions when no wanted us to be.

As women, we must work to fight everything we were taught. To be comfortable in our frame and share that. You can show off; you can like who you are, you can be proud of your work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Think of how you would want to raise a daughter, think of how confident you would want to make her. Children learn by watching, so start doing.

Confidence is ugly

Sharing something that you’re proud of isn’t boasting, it isn’t a bad thing. You deserve to believe in yourself, that is a fundamental right and will take you further in life than any other trait. You deserve to be your own cheerleader. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should someone else? If your pilot doesn’t think he can safely land the plane, would you think he could? If your hairstylist isn’t sure that she can make a bob look good on you, would you want her even to try?

I’m not saying that you should fake confidence, as this isn’t always the best method. Instead, find the confidence within you and nurture it. Find things that you’re already proud of doing and share them. Look at the effects of this confidence and keep repeating until it comes naturally until it stops being so scary. I’m not going to say that confidence is sexy, because it doesn’t need to be, it doesn’t matter how attractive is, confidence is empowering, and that is all that matters.

Steps to becoming your own cheerleader

1. Write down your goals.

By writing something down, you’re 42% more likely actually to do it. More than that, you are recognising your truth and putting it into words. You are claiming your goals, dreams and passions as your own. Write down your goals and give detail, write down what needs to be done in order to reach them. Consider every aspect. Rachel Hollis also advises writing down your goals as if you have already achieved them, to show the possibility in them as well as get your brain working on getting there.

2. Now say them out loud.

Writing them down is important, but it still renders them as a ‘secret’. It’s time to dust off the shame and parade your goals. I used to be fearful of telling people that I wanted to be a published writer, thinking it would be embarrassing if it then never happened. But the issue lies right there, as I’m considering a possibility of it never happening. It will happen, and the more I say it out loud, the likelier that becomes. And even if it never did, would people actually notice and judge me for it? Would you?

3. Invest in yourself.

You are your biggest asset, and you must treat yourself as such. Be your own cheerleader by investing in yourself, as we associate spending money to being serious about something. That can be courses or books, further educating yourself and expanding your knowledge. It could be paying for an editor or book cover designer. Take yourself seriously by dedicating funds towards it.

But investing is about more than money, invest your time as well. Time spent on your passion should never be considered ‘wasted time’. Even if that song, article or product doesn’t do well, you learned something from it; you take that with you as you move on. Invest time in yourself. Say no to social temptations and prioritise your work. With that, is prioritising yourself, you need to look after yourself to be at your most productive. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, give yourself off-time as well.

4. Tackle negativity.

External negativity is frustrating and can make you feel like a failure, but what’s worse is internal negativity. To be your own cheerleader, you must stop bullying yourself. As a rule of thumb: never allow yourself to think things that you wouldn’t say to a friend. Always put yourself in the position of a friend coming to you with the same issue or struggle. They got a mean comment on their article, their song isn’t performing well, and they doubt if they can make it at all, they’ve been feeling sad and haven’t been productive enough. Would you belittle them, judge them or tug them down further? I hope not! You’d empower them; you’d tell them that you believe in them and they can do this. Apply the same kindness to yourself that you offer to others.

5. Find a community.

Being your own cheerleader also requires you to enter a more positive environment. Surround yourself by people that challenge you, inspire you and reflect similar goals. They don’t have to be in the same field as you, just have ambition and drive. I have a friend who writes and creates music, and whenever I spend time with her, I feel empowered and motivated. She believes in me, and I believe in her. Find those people, reach out to them and support each other. They say that you’re a combination of the five people you spend the most time with, make smart choices then.

You are amazing; you are driven. Do you want to know how I know this? Because you clicked on this article, you read it until the end. You are trying to improve and grow, and that is the most important thing. I would love to be your cheerleader, but I can’t do that unless you believe in yourself as well. Ignore all the negativity that has been instilled in us, the doubt and fear, and instead choose to thrive, choose to believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

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Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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