On Confidence / Billie Walker
The silencing of women is a tale as old as time, one that perpetuates the self-doubt imbedded in our heads. This can be seen as far back in our history as Ancient Greece, the beautiful Trojan woman Cassandra was granted the gift of prophecy by the god Apollo in an attempt to seduce her. When she refused his advances, he responded by spitting in her mouth – both violating and physically silencing her – thereby inflicting a curse on her that prevented anyone from believing her prophecies. However, this isn’t just something that only exists in the realms of the ancient deities. This is a curse that haunts women throughout their lives to the present day.
It is not news to us that that as a gender we struggle with our confidence and doubt our conviction; it has been shown that women have disproportionately lower self-confidence than men. For instance, the company Hewlett Packard made a recent discovery, that women ‘applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job’. However, men applying for the same job would do so when they believed they only met 60% percent of the job’s requirements; reinforcing the gender confidence gap.
Rebecca Solnit, writer of the viral essay Men Explain Things to Me, believes we need to address this confidence gap. She highlights the importance of a balance of both self-doubt and self-confidence; seeing the difference between men and women on a scale from arrogance to stunting self-doubt:
“I’ve learned that a certain amount of self-doubt is a good tool for correcting understanding listening and progressing – though too much is paralyzing, and total self-confidence produces arrogant idiots. There’s a happy medium between these poles to which the genders have been pushed a warm equatorial belt of give and take where we should all meet.”
Whilst Rebecca Shaw jokingly suggests that a ‘Robin Hood rob-from-the-men-and-give-to-the-women’ scenario would be the perfect way to address this issue; she goes on to explain that men are more confident because of the privileges that have been afforded to them in life, stating that ‘their success is due to the way the world at large treats them’. If we can’t change how the world treats us, how can we take matters into our own hands and close the confidence gap ourselves?
IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.
Recognise the role that our society plays in your low self-esteem. If you are not a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male, the world was not designed with you in mind. This world will remind you is this constantly; by the statues of colonisers on the streets, culture drenched in male gaze, inaccessible establishments, and gender binary toilets. Surrounded by an air this thick in heteronormativity and institutionalised oppression, it is bound to seep into your subconscious no matter how sure of yourself you are. By realising that society does not want you to think you are enough, the act of loving yourself becomes an act of defiance.
BUILD YOUR SELF ESTEEM THROUGH SELF LOVE.
As has been pointed out by psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, confidence and self-esteem is often confused and it is in fact the latter that we need. Confidence comes from believing in a specific talent, whereas self-esteem is the belief in your own self-worth and value. As girls growing up ‘we are taught that our value is based on our appearance, our relationship status… we don’t value ourselves for who we are’. So, let’s work on building our self-esteem.
RELY ON YOU.
My therapist gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me, and I’d like to pass it on to you: the only person you should rely on is yourself. Her reasoning was not because it makes you self-sufficient, stronger or independent - although these are very good reasons to do it - it’s because relying on yourself makes logical sense.
Who is the first person to pick up on your mood? You.
Who can sense what might be triggering? You.
Who knows best what your body needs? You.
Being able to have yourself to rely on is a blessing, because no one else can predict your feelings and be intuitive to your needs better than you can. Relying on yourself in turn helps you to understand your value and build your self-worth; it reveals the caring nature that we are all capable of.
GET YOURSELF A COPY OF THE SELF LOVE BIBLE.
For extra guidance look no further than the Patroness Saint of Self Love, Saggy Boobs and calling out bullshit: Chidera Eggerue. Her debut book What a Time To Be Alone has just been released and it's oozing with wisdom. The Slumflower will guide you through the relationship you have with yourself and others to explain why you are already ‘enough’. Not only is Eggerue wise beyond her years, her writing style is short and direct, making it accessible for readers of any ability and those that find themselves too busy to read a whole book. The bright, bold layout allows you to dive in at ease for the advice you need to see you through the day.
JUST SAY THE WORDS.
No one wakes up one morning and loves themselves entirely; it’s a gradual process. However, what you can do immediately is use your words. Using kind language towards yourself is half the battle and the best way to go about it is to just use them, even if you don’t feel as if you mean it. Using positive language is like smiling or changing your posture, it is proven that if you smile or sit up straight it can elevate your mood. The more you use kind language towards yourself the more you will believe what you are saying. If you aren’t sure what to say, borrow words from other people. I use Jamila Woods' song Holy as the perfect self-love mantra:
“My cup is full up, what I got is enough, nobody completes me, don't mess with my love.”
It is perceivable that we are slowly reaching a state in our society where women are believed before they are questioned and can be raised with high self-esteem rather than filled with self-doubt. But for those of us that have already undergone conditioning our entire lives, we need to work on loving ourselves unconditionally and nurturing our self-esteem. The good news is that there are many who recognise that self-esteem is a systemic problem, many of which have been previously mentioned. In my eyes, Chidera Eggerue’s debut book marks a turning on point for women: What a Time To Be Alone promotes the notion that you can enjoy your own company, you can be proud of yourself and you can enjoy your life independently. This will, I hope, in turn inspire many more to break away from self-doubt and embrace themselves. We should all wake up like Paris Hilton does; stating proudly that we are the best thing that’s ever happened to us, but in the meantime I leave you with the words of Sarah Hagi:
“Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man”.
Words by Billie Walker
Edited by Hannah Crosbie