As a shy 23 year old I can’t explain how hard it was for me to break into the mould of “confidence”. Something so simple felt so out of reach for the introverted artist who just wanted to lock herself up in her room and paint the day away…day dreaming about the latest perfect fantasy of whatever creation I was imagining in my made-up, easy wholesome world.
There was nothing wrong with that “world” except…it wasn’t going to sell my art. And I knew it. I would humbly post a picture of art, a creation I was working on…and too scared to explain the true meaning of the piece, I would always “dumb it down” with a short phrase like, “new art”, “work in progress”, or any other mundane non-attention grabbing sentence I could get my hands on.
It wasn’t until my first art show that I realized….I wasn’t “hardwired for confidence”, but I was going to have to muster up something if I wanted to be anything other than the trembling girl in the corner hoping and praying no one noticed. It was definitely a hard personality trait to acquire at the time. I remember it felt so unnatural, and I was sure everyone would see right through me like a thin and fragile piece of glass that I truly was… but I still did just that. I FAKED IT. I remember clearly trying to slow my breathing….”deep slow breaths”, I would tell myself. “Don’t let them see you shake..” would be another thought that followed. I remember how clearly my first art show was the biggest battlefield of scary obstacles…all day long. It was the longest 6 hours of my life. I was a closet artist who had to not only come out of my closet and show everything I was secretly pouring my heart and soul into.,.. but I had to muster up the courage to EXPLAIN it all to STRANGERS. Many of those, who seemed flat out uninterested but still felt the need to “poke and pry” at the artist behind it all.
Looking back, it’s almost comical how I prayed so hard for it to become a crazy monsoon that day and I wouldn’t have to face my fears, slinking back into my secretive dark hole… I would imagine and create in my head an Invisible layer between people walking by and myself…”they can’t see me…they can’t see me…” I would repeat. Silly me.
As unorthodox as that was, it was a huge life lesson. Confidence was obviously NOT hard wired in me. I was an introvert at heart, but if I wanted to make it in the Art and Business world…I’d better figure out how to create it.
I read every book I could find the following year on confidence, marketing, selling and business. I learned many things from changing the way I stood, making eye contact, choosing a “power pose”, mimicking a customer’s body language to make them feel more comfortable and to mainly FAKING the confidence until I had mentally TRICKED my brain into obtaining it. It seemed like a pretty far-fetched idea at the moment…but hey, I was a desperate artist who really just wanted to muster up the courage to sell a few paintings. (Not knowing this confidence would take me into a whirling full time and successful career, but that’s for another blog post…)
The next year was quite the transformation…in 2012 I went from the scared closet artist, to the social media, confident art seller that I am today. No one knew how awkward it felt to stand out from “the crowd”. No one knew how every ounce of me was actually faking the confidence I was portraying to the world, and no one knew more than I, how shocked I was….THAT IT WAS ACTUALLY WORKING ON HARDWIRING MY INNER CONFIDENCE.
The created confidence that I portrayed actually helped EASE that inner voice of “you can’t do it” and negativity.
All this to say, hardwired confidence is not something we are all born with…however, it is definitely something that can be obtained. Sure it didn’t happen overnight, but through a year of studying, I learned that faking confidence is not just making it up, it’s actually learning how to use what you had inside of you THE ENTIRE TIME. (Mindblowing…I know!) I wasn’t necessarily tricking my brain…I was simply reminding it. We all have that inner voice that says “you can’t do x, y and z”. Whoever your role model is in life, don’t think they inherited some secret genie that zapped that human nature away. They simply decided NOT to listen to it.. They turned the other cheek, they stood in their power stance, with feet wide apart and hands on their hips…..and they hardwired in some much needed confidence. And I promise you, it probably felt unnerving….but they greeted the challenge and obstacle with every ounce of courage they could muster up….and create from thin air.
It doesn’t take a lucky hand to sell art, to be “that artist” who was just in the right place at the right time, or who is just popular because of their looks, money, or power….It simply takes someone, who’s willing to step outside of their comfort zone, to embrace what makes them unique…and to sell it to everyone they encounter. Because at the end of the day….If you don’t believe in yourself, and believe in whatever it is that you are selling, creating, painting, writing, singing, etc….no one else will either. If you want to make it in any career path…you need to hardwire in…. your confidence.