As an undergrad student in computer science, I would often feel intimidated by the confidence of my male peers. To keep up, I adopted a "fake it until you make it" mentality. I would fake confidence in the hopes that I would then become confident. In the end, I think many of us didn't have real confidence but instead a pretend confidence in areas we knew nothing about.
As I've gotten older, I have learned to both develop real confidence from my successes and a healthy amount of humility from what I don't know.
A friend recently commented on how impressed she is with my confidence and if I had any advice on the topic. I'm not sure what I said at the time, but this blog post is what my current response would be.
I believe confidence is about appreciating your successes while also allowing yourself to be imperfect. A large part of being confident is having a growth mindset. I am not always confident in my current abilities, but I am confident in my ability to learn, improve, and ask for help. Equipped with that mindset, I am confident in new situations while still being able to admit when I don't know or understand something.
I mention appreciating your successes to find confidence. Below are some tips to keep in mind when doing this:
Others don’t have to fail in order for you to succeed. For example, even if 100% of the class finished a coding project, finishing the project is still an achievement!
You don’t need to be the best for it to count as an achievement. Success looks different for everyone! For example, physics was always a challenge for me, so passing the course (with a C+) is an achievement for me. Once I let go of the need to be perfect, I created the space I needed to be proud of myself.
Take time to appreciate and acknowledge your successes! Remind yourself of the skills and knowledge you worked hard to get.
This is a bit cheesy, but my favorite quote about this is from the song “I am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” (Miranda et al., 2016). The quote is, “I've delivered us to where we are, I have journeyed farther, I am everything I've learned and more.” It reminds me that no matter what happens in the future (fail or succeed), my past achievements will always be something I can feel proud of. That idea has always been reassuring to me.
Miranda, L., Foa'i, O., & Mancina, M. (2016). Moana soundtrack . Disney.