It’s that time of year I really dislike. Every other person is firmly ensconced in Dry January while you’re still working your way through the stockpile of booze you purchased to get through Christmas, gym memberships and diets are discussed at length in the office, caffeine is frowned upon, and everyone is hitting up the dating apps after yet another festive period spent single (…and having to dodge unwelcome advances under the mistletoe because ‘you’re too nice to not have a boyfriend.’ Bleugh!!!!!)
If December is a crazy all night party, January is the self-loathing hangover that hits hard the next morning. The one that sees you unable to leave your bed for fear of the headache that will inevitably cause your skull to burst.
I am usually quite a confident person and take most things with a pinch of salt (and a huge dose of sarcasm). I don’t shy away from social occasions or meeting new people, but I do – like many other people – suffer from self-doubt.
What if I am not good enough? What if what I am doing is ridiculous? What if people laugh at what I say? What if I fail? What if I’m just not pretty enough? What if I am not clever enough?
These are all questions that pop through my head on a regular basis. And I know I am not alone. But it just seems incredibly self-indulgent to admit it, doesn’t it? After all, they aren’t real problems.
I have spoken at length with my ongoing battle with anxiety – I say ongoing because although I feel perfectly fine at the moment, I never quite know when those tendrils will take hold – and I have been doing my best recently to quell any bubbling self-doubt that rears its ugly head. But after a while, all these everyday worries and doubts stack up like blocks in a game of Jenga.
Is it any wonder that sometimes we just can’t hold them all together?
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
J.M Barrie, Peter Pan.
Let’s face it, in today’s society where your dating life is shaped by apps such as Tinder where people are, initially, judged on a) their looks and b) 500 characters where they are supposed to define themselves in some amusing/alluring/inoffensive manner; where adverts in magazines are so heavily photo shopped that the subject no longer seems to resemble a normal human being, where eating disorders are pandemic, where love is disposable, where – quite frankly – we have created an entire culture of judgement, ridicule and general not-feeling-good-enough-ness.
Your self-doubt might not be a problem, rather its a symptom of a far bigger issue permeating society.
Recently, I saw that the lovely folk over at Marie Claire magazine had launched their latest social media campaign #BreakFree.
The premise? Enabling and empowering brilliant women to shake of the shackles of anything that might make them feel small or unable to do something they really want to do. For Marie Claire, it’s simple:
We know as women, we’re capable of anything. It’s 2016 for God’s sake! But still, the most recent statistics show that less than a quarter of all senior FTSE management positions are filled by women, 86 per cent of us are the primary carers to our children, and the gender pay gap still stands at 13.9 per cent. Muslim women are 65 per cent less likely to be employed than their white female counterparts, black women are considered the ‘least desirable’ on online dating sites, and over 40 per cent of lesbians hide their sexuality from colleagues for fear of homophobia.
Even if we take intersectionality out of the equation, one in three female students will experience sexual assault at university, and 97 per cent of us feel insecure about our bodies. And while studies show that men stop progressing in their careers at 55, for women, that kicks in a decade earlier.
But it’s not all bad. We’ve ticked some big boxes in gender equality. We can tick some more. Which is why Marie Claire – and our nine ambassadors from across the UK – are taking a stand. Over the next 12 months, we’re going to #BREAKFREE from the big things that make us feel small – that make us feel like we’re still not good enough.
There are lots of things we can do to help ourselves – and others – break free from feeling like we are just not good enough.
Personally? I am trying to be a little more assertive. I often find it difficult to put my true feelings forward in certain situations. I am all too willing to pass things off as being ‘OK’ when really they upset me, or I feel like I deserve better, or having faith in myself to go after/ask for what I want. But I’m getting there.
So, although our problems might not be as big as those depicted in the passage from Marie Claire above, there are lots of things we can all do to ensure we are all feeling like the badass unicorns we all really are!
Here’s some of the ways I think we can boost a little self-confidence and make life a little easier for everyone!
- Make a list of the things you really want to do? Are they achievable? What small things can you do to make the necessary steps to achieving your goals? Often something that seems nigh on impossible is achievable if we just put in a little hard work and persevere.
- Take some time out of the day to do something for you or simply be in your own mind. Be present. Run a bath. Have a pamper session. Read a book. Go for a run. Take your lunch break and walk around with your headphones on and a good tune turned up loud.
- Don’t take any crap. If its irritating you, take a step back. Think about why it’s annoying you? Is it something silly that you can get over or is it truly a behaviour you find unacceptable? Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.
- Take a step back from social media. Stop stalking your ex/crush/boss on Facebook or analysing the amount of followers you have on Twitter. Stop applying filter after filter to your selfies. Online life is not real. It’s make belief, a fabrication, and it’s incredibly unhealthy to view it as anything real.
- Try not to judge yourself by someone else’s standards. You do not need approval.
- Don’t impose judgements on others. Don’t bitch about the way someone looks, what they wear. Unkindness breeds unkindness.
- Stop comparing yourself to others be it models in magazines, friends, your boyfriend’s ex, your boss, that woman at work who always looks so well-presented when you look like you’ve been thrown up by your wardrobe.
- Be a supportive friend. Take the time to listen to someone who might seems a little quiet or withdrawn. Talk through problems. Sometimes it just takes someone to express concern, share an opinion or completely dispel your weird thoughts to make us feel so much better.
Stop being so hard on yourself and make 2016 the best yet!
Along with my #itsnotgrimupnorth series where I wax lyrical about all things Manchester, check out #getbrave where I’m hoping I can get you lovely lot involved with sharing words of wisdom, tales of inspirations and ways to keep each other motivated.
Sometimes all people need is a little support, a chance to shine, or just someone to listen. Lets help each other out!
Like the sound of this? Visit me over at Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or leave a message below with your pearls of wisdom.