The type of every day language I use really irritates me. I add all of these stupid phrases like “sort of”, “I’m not sure…”, “do you think…?”, “I think it’s like this but I might be wrong…” and all that bollocks. You have no idea just how much it irritates me. Part of the reason why I love writing so much is because I can edit everything I write – I can keep working over a piece of writing before anyone else sees it, until I’m happy with the end result. However the minute I open my mouth and these stupid phrases pop out my inner-editor wants to whack me over the head with a very large dictionary. Unsurprisingly, this mainly happens when I’m the centre of attention in a group, or having to make a decision. My brain goes into panic mode and chucks in a “I might be wrong…” so that if I turn out to be wrong, it doesn’t backfire on me. Which is so bloody annoying because even if I turn out to be wrong, the outcome isn’t something that means I’m going to be made homeless or someone’s going to violently stab me. It can be over something as stupid as what time a tv programme is on, or how to spell a word. “How do you spell privileged?” “Oh, like this, I think…” The most irritating thing about it is that I know I’m going to do it the minute I open my mouth and I can’t stop it.
It’s all linked into confidence. Recently in work we’ve had this awesome psychologist lady, Chintha Dissanayake, come in to do one to one workshops to get us to think about career progression and what we all want to do as a career. She’s been coming into work once a month since January, and has really motivated me to become an author. Before these one to one sessions, I still wanted to be an author, don’t get me wrong – but it seemed like such a distant possibility until Chintha sat me down and asked “Why not now?” When I couldn’t give her an answer, it gave me a wake up call. Why NOT now? One of the first things she said to me was that she couldn’t see me as an LSA forever and that I needed to put myself outside of my comfort zone. She’s right, I am in my comfort zone here – after my ex-boyfriend turned out to be a git I came back home and was lucky enough to get a job in my old secondary school. As weird as it’s been to be back among some of my old teachers, I at once felt at home because it’s where I developed as a person and is synomous with home because Mum and Tom work there.
Another interesting thing Chintha told me – and this links in to my first point – is that you don’t properly develop your personality until you are 25. Your personality is constantly changing – which is good news for me confidence wise. Chintha said that I was in a lucky position because of my age, because I could be whoever I wanted to be. I have always tried my best to be a nice person, to be liked by those I meet – this meant I developed my irritating habit so as to not piss anyone off. Chintha had us all do a personality test before our second meeting, and afterwards said she was reluctant to do it on me because of this changing personality fact. Quite laughably one of the things that mine flagged up was that I’ve got all the natural abilities to become a leader – me, a natural born leader? With these stupid “kind of” phrases coming out of my gob I found that hard to believe.
Chintha gave all the women in work a book to read, “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It’s full of sciencey stuff, but basically talks about how men are generally more confident than women and how we’re all wired differently. Which annoyed me because why can’t we be just as confident? It spoke about how some of the most powerful women in the world, like Christine Lauder and others, care more about respect than being liked. When you think about it, this makes sense – being respected is far more likely to get you somewhere in life than being liked.
All of these things have led me to the conclusion that I want to be more confident. When I was reading “The Confidence Code” in front of someone who had only recently met me, his response was “Surely you don’t need to read a book on confidence?” A friend also told me that when I came up in conversation recently, again with someone who has only really just met me, they were shocked when she told them I really wasn’t that confident at all. These surprised me – even from my casual slouched body language I thought my lack of confidence was very obvious. Have I been deceiving myself this entire time? Since meeting Chintha and hearing all of this science stuff behind the confidence concept I have been forcing myself out of my comfort zone – I have been forcing myself to talk to people I would previously have gone “nope” and runaway from (basically anyone I don’t know) which uni has really helped with – one of the dinner ladies from work always says hello to me and asks how I am, and once she said to me “Uni has done you the world of good – you used to be so quiet!” I have even forced myself to volunteer for a solo in an upcoming concert, something I usually would have balked at because it meant showing off and everyone would be looking at me. I have always worried about coming across as full of myself, so hid myself in my crappy language so no one could accuse me of being like this. But now I’ve started to think “Why can’t I show off? Why can’t I be proud of myself and my achievements?” If someone asked me before whether my writing was any good or did I have a nice voice, I would pull a face and say “I’m alright, I guess.” NO. BAD ME. STOP IT.
Completing the first draft of my novel and (for once) being proud of myself was one of the first steps. I am determined to be a more confident person who isn’t afraid to speak up, rather than sit back and say “I guess…” The ultimate step will be taking Chintha’s advice and properly taking myself out of my comfort zone and moving to London or somewhere that’s not Pembrokeshire so that I can put myself out there and think on my own two feet. Surely that nice dinner lady has a point? I am definitely a more confident person since uni, and I’m determined to become more confident in my own skin. Especially if it means that I stop saying “Maybe, I might be wrong though…”