My good friend of 20 years called me today and said, “Amanda, I wish I had your confidence.”
It was so lovely of her to say that but it made me think about what confidence really is.
I am confident in the way I dress and the way I carry myself, I have no filter when it comes to defending my behaviour or fighting for causes I believe in. But for the last few months I have been doubting my capabilities as I felt my life spiral out of control. Healing from the pain of broken friendships, struggling to keep my business going, hemorrhaging money with the never-ending bills and the stress of desperately wanting to sell my house and finalise my divorce has taken a toll on my confidence. Plus dealing with the hormonal issues of menopause which has made me super emotional at times. It’s fair to say that it’s been a difficult year so far.
You wouldn’t know because I haven’t shared this until now. Running your own business can be lonely, you rely on no one but yourself for it to work so you have to show up for yourself even if you don’t feel like it. Being an entrepreneur makes you constantly doubt your decisions but I suppose I must be doing something right as I am nominated for two business awards this autumn. I do get spurts of confidence with the work that I do, I know I am an expert in my field and I can help people with their goals too, and I have a vision for the future of my business which I try and stay on track with.
There’s a fine line though, between being overconfident and coming across as arrogant or self-absorbed. On the flip side, being underconfident prevents you from taking risks and grabbing opportunities for fear of failure or worrying what other people may think of you.
I have no problem walking into a room full of strangers and making new contacts and I love talking to everyone but I am a terrible procrastinator. I can sit on my sofa for hours and scroll through social media when I should be banging out emails prospecting for new clients or writing up a feature. And having spent years being emotionally abused by people I cared about, it’s knocked my confidence. I’ve been accused of being a fake and a bullshitter, which is ironic as I am completely genuine and a terrible liar. I’ve been defamed and trolled on social media throughout the years which has made me question my entire being at times. But learning to not care what other people think has made me stronger and more resilient, not forgetting more determined to prove them wrong. Which I have done multiple times.
I saw a quote today which said, “Just because I’ve sat in darkness doesn’t mean I won’t shine my inner light.”
My friend asked me if I could teach her how to be confident and I’ve had a think about it. It’s more than a mindset and reciting daily affirmations. I do the things I love daily, I exercise, I go to the beach and spend time with friends who motivate and uplift me and when I feel happy, I feel more confident.
I take pride in my work and give it my best, I believe in it and am passionate about it. And when I see the results of my work; the magazine published or an event come together and people celebrating their successes with me, it instills me with new confidence.
What keeps me pushing forward is an unwavering determination to succeed at all costs. I don’t have a choice, I have children who depend on me. No matter what personal or professional challenges I face, can’t just give up. I will step up every time and face the obstacles. Because whatever I’m going through, I know it won’t last. Self-belief is the ultimate confidence builder.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE
I recall laughing at my daughter’s bold statement to me last year. “I’m really happy with the person I’ve become and I don’t think I’ll change, “ said the thoughtful 20 year old.
I replied, “Honey, I’m still changing. If you stay the same you’ll never grow.”
And this is our lesson throughout life. Changes shape us and mould our desires. They create ripple effects that make us want to discover new experiences including relationships, careers and friendships. And through change comes exciting opportunities we would never have seen coming otherwise.
We outgrow people as we outgrow ourselves and set new healthier boundaries. I have dropped friends who aren't as ambitious as me because they became unrelatable. I have declined social invitations when I knew I had a big deadline looming the next day, and with no purpose to get up for the next day, they didn’t understand or empathise. Don' t let anyone hold you back.
I have dropped friends who put their partner before their own needs or who cancel plans relentlessly because a man has slid into their DMs. If my time isn't as important to them then I don't want to know.
Wanting change gives you power and control over your life and where you want to end up.
I left a marriage of 20 years, a stable partner who I knew would never leave me, to embark on a scary single life. Why? Because I wasn’t prepared to settle for a lack of passion and romance anymore. I deserve more.
I moved countries because I loathed the gloomy English weather and freezing temperatures. My mood was constantly affected by this and it shook my motivation. I didn’t want to leave my house as I was so cold and made excuses not to go to meetings.
Through the move I met lots of people from around the world, all with similar stories and inspiring journeys and gained enormous confidence.
I dropped the weight and started to take care of my skin and my appearance and through this my confidence boomed.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of going to a bar on my own for a drink, now it’s become the norm. I accept invitations for way more social events as I never know who I am going to meet and this has been crucial in my business’ success.
We stay in one place because we’re fearful of the unknown and it’s easier to stay in our safe, comfortable place where we become fixated on our problems and often manifest into greater ones. But on the other side of fear is limitless possibilities. And what if it doesn’t work out? We are not trees, we are not rooted in one place, we can get up and leave.
Many people say to me, “I wish I could do what you did” and the simple answer is, you can. You have a credit card, you can book the plane ticket, even if you don't move there, a change of scenery for a few weeks can be just as effective.
You need to plan and you need to accept that although you may fail at that plan, something even better will work for you instead.
It takes guts, resilience and a thick skin. You will be judged harshly but mainly from people who have accepted their uneventful, steady life and envy your courage to go and seek more. You will lose friends, you will undoubtedly be lonely for a while. You learn to embrace discomfort and through these feelings you discover more about yourself, your wants and your desires.
I think everyone should be made to go on holiday on their own, you learn so much about yourself. And starting a new life is a whole new level of discomfort. It’s a bit of a shit storm at times, but as with all storms, the clouds eventually disappear and the sky clears. It’s not selfish to walk about from situations that don’t make you happy, be it a partner or a friendship or a job. These are all replaceable. Feeling guilty is a waste of energy and I channel that through the gym. Life to me doesn't revolve around trundling around Tesco anymore wondering what to make for dinner.
Through my actions, my children have become independent and stronger with robust work ethics to chase money to give them the freedom to create their own opportunities. They tell me they're grateful for the opportunities I have shown them. You owe it to your mental health and your happiness to chase every dream and turn it into a reality.
Finding myself single at 50 wasn’t that much of a shock to my system. After all, I spent the final years of my 20 year marriage more alone than ever so it felt right to cut that cord and set myself free. Two years later I fell for a tall, dark and handsome man who swept me up in a fantasy holiday romance and emotions buried deep were reignited. That situationship ended abruptly and it briefly rocked my self worth with cruel words fired at me. But undeterred and resilient as ever, I recently decided that I was ready to meet someone new. So after much deliberation and being egged on by my friend, I recently tried online dating. Almost as quickly as I set up my profile, I deleted it and vowed never to go through that again. Ugh.
For the first hour it was entertaining and then it become irritating. The calibre of eligible men is pretty low and honestly, I am astounded at the confidence of some of these men. Have they looked in the mirror? Do they really think they stand a chance with me? Don’t get me wrong, I know many people who have found successful relationships with partners they have met online but I couldn’t even get past a first date. Are my standards too high or am I just deep down emotionally unavailable? I compared them all to a fairytale image of a man I want and not one of them matched up.
The first date was with an incredibly good looking man, with a beautiful chiselled face and a body of steel. He ordered a perrier water all night and nursed it like liquid gold to avoid ordering a second drink. He spoke about himself all night and rarely asked anything about me. I sipped at an iced tea all night thinking I would rather be at home with my cats.
The second date was with a man in his 30s and that was fun, but in the back of my mind the age was an issue for me. I prefer younger men by a few years but that was just too much and our age gap would have been a problem for me. Especially with children in my 20s who are closer in age to him.
The third never made it to a date, I think he just wanted to be an online penpal. The communication was great, he texted regularly and checked in with me but made no effort to actually suggest meeting up and so my boredom crept in rather quickly.
Then of course there was the usual variety of men blocked instantly for descending into sexting within a few sentences of introducing themselves. When will men realise that most women find intelligent conversation and sense of humour the biggest turn on?
Recent statistics show that 39% of women my age are single. some never married, others like me became bored of being treated like wallpaper by lazy, indifferent husbands and chose to end relationships. Like many, I don't need a man, I want one but I am not desperate. Almost 50% of divorces have occurred in people’s 40s and 50s and I don’t regret my decision. I don’t have to answer to anyone, I am not stressed by cutting remarks or comments aimed to lower my self esteem anymore. I am comfortable in my skin and am naturally confident.
It takes courage to put yourself out there but that isn’t a problem for me, my work dictates that I talk to strangers all the time. I have no problem going to a party alone or going to a bar alone as I love meeting people. My journalistic instinct kicks in and I am naturally inquisitive.
I remain optimistic that I will fall in love again but it’s not the central priority in my life. A man has to compliment my lifestyle, my strict gym regime and my crazy, unconventional work hours, he isn’t there to fill a void that isn’t there.
I am alone but not lonely. My life is filled with my children, fun and fabulous friendships whom I cherish. So until then I shall remain, single, sassy and a little bit badassy.
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