When I was younger, I always wanted to be an actress. I loved performing for my family, whether that was putting on shows with my cousin in our matching crop tops, or just making people laugh with my celebrity impressions. The feeling of making someone else happy, of making someone else feel, full stop, was an amazing feeling.
Part of the reason I never lived out my childhood dream was most likely because I never put enough of myself into my hobbies. I took drama exams, which, although I didn’t enjoy practising for, I loved performing for. Even now, six years since my last exam, I can still remember the words and actions of some of my scenes. I never fully appreciated how fulfilling it was to be able to do something like that, to take on another persona and make someone believe their story.
Another reason was that I grew less comfortable performing in front of anyone other than my drama teacher. I joined a Saturday drama school in my mid-teens, but I remember even then, even surrounded by people who were doing the same thing as me, I was pretty nervous about putting myself out there on stage. For the most part, I think I was always afraid of what people would think. Playing pretend is OK when you’re a kid, but as a teenager, one that doesn’t really know where she fits in, pretending to be someone else and take it seriously, it seemed too risky. It meant putting too much of myself out there for people to scrutinise, and I didn’t have the confidence to brush that off, were it to even happen.
It saddens me now that I felt that way, but I know many people do, as teenagers and as adults. Although I’d like to think that’s not how I behave now, it still is to an extent.
I’m certainly less afraid of what people think of me. For example, when I go to the gym with no makeup on, barely able to lift more than a 10kg barbell, I wouldn’t care if someone were to laugh. I’ve taught myself that a reaction like that would only come from a massive knob. You just don’t need to concern yourself with those kinds of opinions.
However, there are still things I’m afraid to do for fear of being scrutinised and judged. A good example of this is with my blog.
I started blogging back in 2013, and that alone was a big step. It meant putting something online for the world to see that had my name and face on it. Was it lame to write about beauty products and post pictures of myself online? Would it make me seem narcissistic? Somehow, I got over those thoughts enough to create a blog and actually enjoy doing something that gave me an outlet to be creative and express myself.
As I’ve stopped and started numerous blogs, I’ve taken new approaches each time and my confidence has grown. Finally, I went out into town with James last weekend to take some blog photos, and I’m so pleased I did this. It meant standing around like a bit of a loon, getting a little posey and having a few onlookers stare in my direction. But did I have anything to be ashamed of? Not at all. The more pictures we took, the easier I found it, and the more I enjoyed myself. Though I was putting myself out there, quite literally, for people to scrutinise, the reality I encountered was no way near as daunting as my fears had built it up to be.
A part of this kind of worry comes from the fear of failure. In acting, it was: “What if I fluff up my lines?”. In blogging, it’s more like: “What if everyone thinks it’s shit?”. I think it’s natural to lose the fear as we get older, but there are times when I feel I have to really push myself out of my comfort zone still.
I’ve learned that’s it’s more about being fearless enough to fail, but courageous enough to push yourself through the failure. Embrace it, enjoy it. Learn from it.
Of course, it isn’t all about failure. A lot of it is self-belief. It takes a lot to have courage in yourself, to believe in yourself and trust that you have reason to believe in yourself. I find it incredibly easy to think of a million reasons why I shouldn’t do something, why I shouldn’t share my blog with my Facebook friends, for example. And yet, none of those reasons ever really seem half decent. They’re excuses, really. But because they allow me to stay within my comfort zone and not do the thing that scares me, I take them for hard evidence of why I should avoid challenging myself or doing something that could ultimately be fulfilling.
I guess my challenge should be to stop focusing on the reasons not to do something, and look instead at why I should. If there’s just one good reason to take some blog photos, share a post on Facebook or tell a friend about my blog, then why not?
This doesn’t only apply to my blog, I should add. But it is a starting point. I want to see myself grow in confidence this year, and it’s down to me to make that happen by pushing myself, however slowly. By believing in myself a little more, perhaps I’ll start to see that others believe in me too.
Coat – Zara
Jumper – Marks & Spencer
Jeans – Levi’s (similar)
Boots – River Island
Sunglasses – Ray Ban
Bag – Zara