People see me as confident, but they don’t know the real me and they don’t know the story behind my confidence, so, here it is. The truth about how I became confident, because I certainly wasn’t born that way!
My Mum is amazing, the best Mum I could every hope for, and as a little girl, she was my whole world. In fact, the rest of the world was entirely redundant, for if I was with my Mum, everything was perfect. I didn’t like strangers, I didn’t like things changing, in hindsight, it was the severe separation anxiety I have seen in my own kids, and for me, the first day of Kindy changed everything.
Mum dragged me kicking and screaming into the classroom and left, and I cried and cried and cried. I wasn’t upset, I was utterly distraught and totally devastated that life as I knew it was over. The other kids didn’t get why I was crying and soon enough both the teacher and other kids seemed to give up on me, and I learned that nothing I did change the horrible situation that was school.
Yet, I survived it. I struggled right throughout school with friendships, and spent more time in the library than in the playground. Thankfully, at around 13 I bought my first horse, and things looked up from that point. I had something in my life to love that provided challenge and stimulation. It gave me a reason to get through school and something I was good at and could look forward to.
I only just scraped into Wollongong Uni, on a second-round offer to Commerce, and during that time my brother, who was in the Elite Commando Unit of the Army Reserve, convinced me to get into Officer Training in the Reserves. It taught me so much and changed the way I thought and what I believed I was capable of. It stretched me, challenged me and almost broke me. But what was left was a confident young woman that was not only extremely fit and capable but resourceful enough to take on any challenge thrown her way.
It was my experience in the Army that gave me the confidence to travel on my own, and I spent 18 months after Uni travelling and working my way through Canada, America, Eastern Europe, the UK and Thailand. There is nothing like arriving in a country with barely enough money for a few weeks accommodation to build your confidence. Meeting new people, finding work and establishing yourself in a new community is an experience I believe everyone should have.
So that shy little girl opened to the challenges life offered and learned to embrace them. It wasn’t comfortable, but slowly and surely, I built my confidence up over time. I’m still shy, I don’t love networking and my ideal holiday is me and my family on a secluded beach with not another sole in sight. But I’ve adapted, and now I have the confidence to do the things I need to do and look forward to the challenges life still has in store for me.
I believe confidence is a learned skill, and it’s just investing the time to develop its potential.