I’m reading a new book When to Jump: If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life You Want and it is loaded with stories of people who jump from careers that are just ehh to passions that are snap crackle pop (great metaphor, I know!). I’ve only gotten through the first section of the book, which focuses on the listening to the little voice inside you – the one that is telling you what your dreams are and to chase them vigorously.
While most people end up ignoring that little voice at least temporarily, or indefinitely, it made me realize that most people do so because of a lack of confidence and self-esteem. As I read this book, it was as if I was looking in the mirror glaring eye-to-eye with my own insecurities.
Outside looking in, you may not think I have low confidence or low-self esteem. Afterall, my sense of humor ranges from self-deprecating to self-inflating. But truth be told I struggle with confidence and esteem.
There was a good portion of the winter and spring weeks where I was down in the dumps and not realizing what was causing it. After some doing some reflecting and starting When to Jump, I realized that a big cause was my own lack of belief in myself – in what I am capable of but also in believing and loving the person that I am. I have lacked the belief that I have the skills for success in what I’ve set out to do, while also lacking the belief in myself.
I’m trying to pinpoint when exactly the lack of self-confidence and esteem began, or whether there have been those insecurities all along. I haven’t had a great history of being the best. I was never center stage or center court, yet I have found my passion for writing, connecting with people and championing causes that make our world a better place.
Now that I have found what I’m good at and what I love, there is a vulnerability with putting that out into the world. Even today, with this blog I write, I tend to open my soul up for others, with the intention I can help someone out there in the world. But that still makes it hard to take a compliment when someone is impressed by something I write. I guess it is hard for me to take a compliment, but they should serve as the water for your own “success garden.” People’s belief in us is essential for growing our own confidence and esteem. But the belief that comes from others can’t take hold if we do not have a foundation built within us first. Nothing will result if we do not begin the work ourselves in growing our own confidence and esteem.
I recently had research published in an academic journal. The process took years to complete and when the results were in, I was ecstatic. The finished project has been something that has connected me with professionals in the fundraising world from across the country. Still, I chalked it up as “no big deal.” But in a writer’s world, any publication is a win (heck writing a sentence is a win) and for a fundraiser, having first-hand research is almost rare, and should be considered an Olympic gold medal.
I need to change my mindset to start recognizing that what I accomplish – big or small – is a win. The truth is confidence and esteem start with our thoughts and manifests through to our feelings. What we think is a huge influence on how we feel.
So now begins my own journey to grow my confidence and esteem. I want my success to be determined by my own active drive. I need to make sure I build myself a roadmap with checkpoints to ensure I’m working on growing my own belief in and love of myself. I do believe that when these elements begin to grow that success will seem more natural and attainable. I will recognize that not only am I capable of doing something, but I am the right person to do so.
That isn’t to say there won’t be setbacks. If there are any guarantees in life, it is that there are setbacks. But with confidence and self-esteem, there is an ebb and flow. We will all face milestones in our lives where we are starting over, whether they are our choice or completely out of our control and our confidence is bound to take a hit. We may start new jobs where we are the “new guy” or have moved to a new city with no support system – these are just two instances where even the most confident person could face a setback in their own self-belief.
Despite the challenges and setbacks that are sure to make themselves known, I’m going to lean into what I have already accomplished. By looking back at where we’ve come from, it is easy to see, whether it is obvious or not, the growth we have undergone as a result of our own drive. From there, I will try to celebrate the wins –big and small – in order to sustain my momentum. Lastly, I will work on recognizing the good inside me and what I like most about myself. I will focus on what I give to others and what makes me happy and from there build confidence and self-esteem to help me personally and professionally long into the future.