Growing up I was the fat girl; the kids at school called me "Moose
." I eventually lost weight, thinking thin would improve things, most noticeably my confidence, and I mistakenly carried this notion into adulthood, believing each man I dated would want me more, want me longer, or want me back, if he learned I'd lost a few pounds. Once I realized my appearance wasn't the key ingredient to true confidence, I committed The Little Engine That Could to memory, got a new antiperspirant, and learned to only look at myself in skinny mirrors.
The truth is, I think the older we get the less tolerance we have for BS. That ability not to care, to be confident no matter what anyone else thinks, that's self-esteem. I recognize that my time here is limited. I played by my parents' rules as a child (and adult), made nice in the political work arena, sent my share of thank you notes for things one would be thankful to be rid of (hello, reindeer sweater), and I got to a point where I realized I could continue to live their lives or I could stop worrying so much what others thought or expected and finally start to live my own. I think that's what confidence is, the ability to appreciate and trust yourself. And that takes practice. So it makes sense that being prepared, as much as we're able to be, breeds confidence.
I'm often asked, "How do you find the courage to publish such personal stories about your life? In print, on the web. Forever!" This of course ties into confidence, but I also believe by putting myself out there and sharing my deepest thoughts and insecurities, I'm able to feel more connected with the world, and I know in doing so, it helps others feel less alone. Just the same, sometimes there are things I'm still trying to work out in my life, so I turn to my bedside handwritten journal and write it all out, knowing it's just for me. I let it sit. Sometimes I return to the diary and decide that in publishing it, it might help someone else feel better about their own life.
When I write in my journal, I'm completely free to write what I want, what I really need to say, keeping that panicked exacting editor voice of mine at bay. I write as if no one will ever read what I have to say because the moment I worry about the responses of others ? what my mother will think, my boss, or spouse ? is the moment I stop being honest. When we begin to edit and play it safe we stop being authentic.