Do you struggle with self-confidence? I know I do. It usually doesn't matter how good or even trained I am at something, I'm still always doubtful of my abilities to do the best job, or sometimes even an adequate job, always doubting myself. It's a nasty little quirk of my personality. Fortunately I have another little quirk that balances things out, and that's an absolute determination to do it anyway, lol. I probably get it from my Pawpaw; he used to tell me, "If you need a job, tell them you can do whatever they're looking for even if you can't, then when you get the job, figure it out along the way." Personally I try to be honest when applying for jobs, lol, but he did teach me to not let my lack of confidence stop me from doing anything. That doesn't mean I don't still struggle with confidence, I just try to push through it.
Recently I found myself in a conversation with someone who was apprehensive about the COVID 19 vaccination shot. During the course of this discussion I tried to be as persuasive as possible with facts. I told them about me attending the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) and how I listened to the experts who are doing the actual research in the field. This didn't seem sufficiently persuasive so I tried to build myself up too and started going through all my affiliations and the work that I do in my attempt to convince them that I knew what I was talking about, lol.
"I'm the Alabama state lead for the Positive Women's Network USA, a community advocate with the local AIDS Service Organization, a member of the HIV Prevention and Care Planning Committee with the Alabama Department of Public Health, community advisory board member with The Well Project, writer for WebMD, a U equals U ambassador for the Prevention Access Campaign and co-chair of PWN Alabama, so I know what I'm talking about."
Lol, ok, so I buttered it a little.
Everything I said was true, I really am affiliated with all of these entities, but being an HIV advocate doesn't make me an expert on COVID, lol, just well informed; I didn't claim anything otherwise. But my little list of accolades added weight to my words, and that was my purpose. Once again the words of Mrs. Waheedah rang true when she said, (paraphrasing) "Don't be afraid to build yourself up, make yourself big, because big voices get heard." I met someone who didn't know if they wanted to get vaccinated or not and was able to influence them more with who I was and what I did than with facts. I find that disturbing, but it's a reality of the world we live in.
As I walked away from that conversation I was struck by just how much I actually do. Am I the best person for the job? Probably not -- ok, I'll save you the suspense, I'm definitely not, lol -- but I'm there. Do I know everything? Absolutely not, but I know a lot and I can offer from such as I have. I'm not perfect or the best at anything, but I'm willing to try my best (however awkwardly, lol).
Confidence can be a fickle thing, as fleeting as emotions; one day you have it in spades, and the next day it's just not there. It can spawn from an encouraging word or be destroyed by a negative thought, but it can also be strengthened with practice. Confidence can be so powerful that it can help us to do amazing things that change our lives, mold who we are, and even affect the world around us. A little confidence can move mountains.
We all have something to give of ourselves, and confidence gives us courage and strength to share it with others, but some of us get in our own way with our insecurities and fears when the greatest obstacle to our success is in the mirror. No one is perfect, so don't try to be the first, just know that you are the world's foremost expert on your own experience. No one can be you but you, and you are enough.