On Self-Confidence

They say do something every day that scares you, and today I did that.

This year, through my role in the apprenticeship company when I visited schools, most of the time I was coaching the students to have self-confidence – to be able to tell an interviewer, or a CV reader how awesome they are. This morning I was in a school doing just that, encouraging students to be confident in telling someone else all the cool things they do.

And yet, in the afternoon, I couldn’t do the same myself.

Late yesterday afternoon I was asked to take the place of my boss at an event where she was going to give a brief overview of her career, in order to give advice to PhD students. They wanted to know about my career history, to stand alongside two great speakers also doing the same thing.

But…why would they want to know what I have done?

I wouldn’t call myself successful, I have found a niche which fits my skills and what’s important to me. That’s all. I would even say that I have imposters syndrome in my current job – I’m faking confidence in what I’m doing and hoping that I’ll eventually make it.

So, I stood in front of the students, and I apologised. I told them I don’t know why they’d be interested in me. And I did my presentation, telling them how I studied Japanese, telling them that someone once told me “go experience the outside world, even if it’s just to buy an apple” but how this is good advice for all of life not just those living abroad. I told them about the 9 year old student in Japan who told me that he had a hangover every day, because he wanted to try out the little bit of English he knew, and that we should try out new things even if we’re not experts.

I talked about how I struggled to find happiness since coming back to the UK and how I was a terrible PA and then an even worse recruiter, but I kept myself open to new ideas and eventually found something I love doing, something I had no idea existed before.

And then awkwardly, I finished with another apology, scratched the back of my head, and then sat down.

The two guys who spoke after me we used to this. They were confident, they told the students all about their jobs, the good and the bad, and how someone might get to be where they are.

I could have kicked myself. I didn’t need to apologise. I didn’t need to freak out as much as did about it. I just felt like I was wasting peoples’ time with my story when they had booked my boss’.

2016 has been a good year for my career; I feel like I’m firm on my two feet now. But now I need to learn to stand tall and be brave – just like I tell the school students. It’s not the new year yet, but that will be my new years resolution.

To be confident.


  1. Just because you don’t have a PhD doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be confident in your job and your life story! I can imagine being next to them would be awkward, but I try not to apologize unless I’m actually at fault. I may want to apologize, but I try to hold back as much as I can. I remember reading years ago an article about how women apologize too many and it’s stuck with me. But anyway, be confident in you!!! You’re awesome!!
    Sara Strauss recently posted…Outfit: Nerdy HufflepuffMy Profile

  2. Have you ever seen the TED talk called “Fake it till you make it”? It is a great one. And you aren’t faking anything. Your experiences show students (young and older) that you can travel the world, try on various careers, and then find your true calling.

  3. Klingt nach einem guten Plan!

  4. Welllllll listen here. You are so good at helping young people and getting them to feel worth something and all of your experiences have led to being good at this even if you didn’t realise that in the first place. You are going to do great in this new job and being thrown into a presentation like that pretty early on I would have pooped myself too so give yourself a massive pat on the back and a nice big well done glass of wine.

  5. I know the feeling. I don’t feel successful at all, but then I remember how relatively few people work abroad and travel for years. I had a dream and I actually did it, and it worked out. I should be proud of that – and you should too! And you tried different things after until you found something that fit. I’ve always thought stories like that were more inspirational than instant success ones.
    errant musings recently posted…But can you recognize it?My Profile

  6. I agree with all the comments above and I also find your resume quite impressive. I’m impressed with how many different jobs you’ve tried out (some only for a few months), and how you’ve found a new job pretty much right after quitting another. I’m impressed with how you were able to support yourself financially while living abroad and how you’re trying to find your happiness back at home.

    No apologies needed.

  7. I can relate- I have similar doubts about my own professional life, with a healthy dollop of imposter syndrome on top. But Charlotte, you’re an excellent communicator and it’s clear that you love what you do.
    Steven recently posted…So this is what having free time is like.My Profile


  1. […] Last year was challenging. I worked super hard, and I landed myself a job I love. But – I still have self confidence issues. […]

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