In our society it’s very common for women (and others) to constantly apologize. We have no idea why we do it, it’s just ingrained in our psyche to say sorry…. For what? We don’t even know. I’ve noticed this habit in my friends, colleagues, and myself. And it’s one of those things that once you notice it, you’ll notice it everywhere. Sheryl Sandberg writes about this in her book Lean In and the detrimental effects of apologizing to our careers, and I highly encourage the read.
Saying sorry is part of a larger problem. Feeling the need to apologize is part of discounting yourself, your actions, your ideas, and your talents. But we discount ourselves more than just saying sorry too much. We also discount and undermine our achievements or talents, sometimes automatically, without thinking. I had this happen in a recent job interview where I was told by the interviewer that the position I was applying for was below my current title (which I had worked very hard to achieve in a short amount of time). And my response to this was “well, in all actuality, I’ve only been working for a little over two years, so I understand that this title may be more fitting.” I realized after what I had done. I had discounted myself and the two years of blood, sweat, and tears that I just put into my career. I had just given these people a reason to not give me a better role. All in one sentence.
I had worked too hard to be telling a future employer that I wasn’t worth a better title or position. I now know that my response should have been “I understand that the position I’m applying for is below my current title, and I’m okay with this as long as I know that there is room for growth and future opportunities.” But I didn’t say this because I didn’t want to come across as too confident or full of myself, another lesson I’ve learned from society. But the truth is, if you know your worth and stick by it, the people around you will respect it.
Here are three ways you can take back your confidence and stop discounting yourself:
Recognize your talents. It’s hard to be confident in a society that frowns upon self-assurance. But it’s pivotal to your self worth to recognize how badass you are. I challenge you to write down just 3 reasons why you’re fucking amazing, and live by those truths. Hold these facts hard and fast and don’t ever let yourself discount these talents/skills/badass traits.
Sorry not sorry. Become aware of how many times you, your friends, or colleagues say ‘sorry’ even when there isn’t necessarily anything to be sorry for. Start noticing these habits so you can start making a conscious decision: “am I sorry? And if so, for what?” I also encourage you to read more about these unnecessary apologies and all the effects they have in your career and life.
Don't give your audience a bias. I learned this one in theater class, because we weren’t allowed to tell our audience before a performance if we were sick, never sang before, didn’t feel confident with an accent etc. We just had to DO IT. This is because a lot of the time if you just do what you’re going to do, no one is going to notice that your voice is a little scratchy, or that you’re not fully prepared. I challenge you to stop your excuses, and own your shit. Do that presentation without starting it off with “ok I only had a few hours to put this together but….” because then you’re not priming your audience with a bias before you even start. I’m not going to lie, this is a hard challenge. It’s a lot easier to discount ourselves than potentially let a room do it for us. But it’s so important to building confidence and self worth. Own your shit, you’re amazing. Don’t ever tell anyone you’re not.
The greatest form of self love is self admiration, and it’s time to start admiring your badass self. Because when you can admire yourself, you fill your world with self love and confidence, and we all know that the world around you could use a confidence boost.