Believe in yourself. Such an easy thing to say, really. To read. It rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Try it. I’m right, huh? And if that was all we ever had to do for it to work – roll it off the tongue, I mean – well, so much the better.
But, as in so many parts of life, there’s more to it than that.
“Believe in yourself” has been a bit of a catch-all rejoinder in our family since my almost-daughter-in-law, Shelby, got a moped when she started college. My son, Hunter, recorded a video of her practicing in an empty parking lot and, while it was a little touch-and-go for a while, she didn’t fall, and she eventually came to a (more or less) successful stop.
Off-camera, his voice floated to her.
“Do you have anything to say to everyone watching?”
Pause. Then, with great jubilation, as one exhibits upon nailing a goal:
Believe in yourself! Believe in yourself!
It was contagious, so much so that we all still say it, almost four years later.
The truth is, we’re all capable of so many great things, and sometimes, we have the supreme gift of realizing it. Even more rarely, before the self-confidence gods slam the door of belief shut again, we’ll go so far as to try something bold: something new that scares us, something to challenge ourselves with a different way of thinking, or something to practice that’s difficult to conceptualize, much less attempt.
As adults, believing in ourselves becomes more difficult. The iron curtain begins to raise at some point in childhood (probably adolescence because that’s seriously the absolute worst, so why not). It becomes harder to envision a world in which we can achieve whatever we can imagine. I’ve been thinking of this quite a bit as I’ve come across a lot of different adults in this still-new world of Zooms. Sometimes, when someone is talking, I find myself idly wondering what they wanted to be when they grew up. Who were they as children? What were their dreams? What was their coping mechanism when bad things happened in their lives?
And what happened as they got older?
Recently, I was on a work project with several great people. We were tasked with designing a process to track this project digitally. My mind glazed over almost immediately, but there were a couple of people who voiced extreme excitement and confidence about doing THE VERY THING that almost gave me sudden-onset narcolepsy. Immediately, I wondered. What did they want to be when they grew up? Did they even know they’d become people who confidently mastered digital tracking? (Probably not, because did we even know what that meant, in the 80s? As children? And if they DID know what it meant, in the 80s, as children, how?)
Regardless of how boring the project seemed to me, how impossible to untangle, my teammates were not only excited, but confident in their abilities to come through. And that was so cool to watch. Not only because at least somebody on the team knew what the hell was going on, but also because it’s fun to see people truly lit up from within, speaking about something with passion.
I feel the same way when I see my husband, day after day, just JITTERY with excitement about solar and renewable energies. It’s like HE’S a solar panel. And he is absolutely confident about his solar knowledge.
The point is, there are so many ways to believe in ourselves. Whether we’re really good at baking a cake, at playing Boggle, at walking dogs, or at writing haikus, you’ve earned the right to believe in yourself about it. In fact, take a moment right now, lean back, and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF ABOUT IT.
And if there’s something that you don’t believe in yourself about, but you really want to? Consider this: while I’ll never say never, I will say that it’s almost never too late. If you take just 10 minutes a day to practice the thing that you want to say that you’re good at, you will eventually get like, way better at it. (For me, it’s juggling with three balls.)
And if you’re sure that there’s not anything that you’re good at, and you can’t even think of anything you want to be good at? Well, then, consider your positive qualities. (You DO have some.) Maybe you’re really good at folding laundry, and you don’t even mind doing it. Maybe you’re kind to strangers, or to animals, or maybe you feed the birds in your yard or get your neighbor’s mail or speak kindly to the stressed-out drive-through worker. Take a moment and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF ABOUT IT.
There are so many great things that make up YOU. Your homework for next week? Take 30 seconds every day and think of one thing that you like about yourself. Just one. And the next day, come up with a different one. Write each of them down. Next Friday, you’ve got seven great things.
Now go forth and believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. Because, side note? I’ve always thought you were pretty great.