I don’t feel so confident today.
I’m a generally confident person. Blame it on my upbringing, where it was stressed that I was just as good as anybody else in the world at anything or could be if I worked hard enough to develop myself. Blame on the hubris that sometimes infects my generation. Blame it on whatever you want, but I have a healthy dose of self-esteem.
But I’m human, just like everybody else walking this earth. (Well unless you count those emo vampires that are supposedly off running after homely uninteresting girls somewhere in Washington state.) So I can’t possibly keep a positive attitude and a confident spring in my step every day of the year. Honestly, I don’t feel so confident on many days but at least twice a month, I look at myself in the mirror and say “Who do you think you’re fooling? Not me. Because I can see you for you are: Nothing.”
At that point, I usually walk away from that mirror because I won’t take that sort of crap from anyone, even myself. But, it stays with you. Especially when you’re having a hard month. When your bills outnumber your billables. When you’re reading something that says you’re doing it wrong, you’re ruining this for everyone and you should go back to whatever it was you were doing before this. When whatever project you were banking on, whatever new idea you thought you had or whatever big fish you were hunting got away.
We’re allowed to have down days or weeks or even months if we’re careful not to let them overcome us. I call them “moments” because that’s how long I allow it to hang around before I say “Ok, it’s time to shut down this pity party. You don’t have to go home but you’ve got to get the hell out of here!”
Feelings are farts
I subscribe to the believe that feelings are a lot like farts. Have you ever tried to hold in a fart? Worst thing the world because even if you’re successful, it’s only temporary. It will come back and it will come out at some point. Either that, or your head will pop off from all the built up pressure. And I need my head. It’s how red velvet cupcakes enter my body.
So I allow myself to feel stuff when I feel it instead of trying to hide it. And, like farts, feelings may make everyone in the room uncomfortable at first but after a few minutes it’s like it never happened. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, they’re silent. So nobody really even notices until you’ve already fled the room, leaving only your scent behind.
So when I’m feeling down or not so confident or whatever today, I put it out there. I might tell a friend or my husband. Mostly, I just tell myself and I let myself be a little mouse for a day instead of a ferocious lion. Because there is value in being a mouse in some situations. Lions have a much harder time finding mouse friends, for instance.
I’d never fart on a client
But, even if we’re all human and we’re all allowed to feel a little less confident, clients don’t need to hear that. There is a time and place for questioning yourself and in your client’s presence isn’t it. Look at this way: You’re looking for someone to babysit your kid. You’ve check out the babysitter. She’s got a clean background, experience working with kids and great recommendations. But she walks in and acts like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. When you show her where the diapers are, she looks a little confused. She’s timid and even a little scared of your kid. If it’s my nonexistent kid, she’s fired.
Why? Because I have to go to work today trusting that she’s going to make sure my kid is okay and right now she’s not confident she can do this, so why should I be? In many ways, projects are the clients’ babies. They’ve nurtured their businesses and projects, watching them grow. They’re invested in the long term, and you’re just some chick that’s getting paid for a short term service. You’re not getting your hands on it if you can’t inspire confidence that you can do what needs to be done.
This doesn’t mean that I pretend I can do things I can’t. That’s foolish. If I have no experience or aptitude for a project and fake my way into it, I’ll be fired pretty quick. It damages my reputation and pisses off the client. But even if I’m doubting myself today, I can’t let my clients doubt me because then they won’t want to use me.
Confidence is contagious. I’m good at what I do and I know you are, too. If we don’t believe it, no one else will. And then we’ll be broke freelancers who have to do unspeakable things downtown at night. You know, take a night job at IHOP or something.
So yeah, I’m feeling a little down today. But, I have to pitch some prospects tomorrow so I’m going to shake it off. I’m going to find the confidence I need because I have to if I want to stay in business. I’m going to smile and I’m going to remember why I’m good at this. And then I’m going to land those clients. And if I have to
fart question myself, I’ll wait until I’m alone to do it.