Writers Wednesday: The Confidence Game


I had a total breakdown last week.

My other half and I had gotten into it over my stereotypically millennial quandary: what to do with myself when I grow up. Somewhere in the midst of our battle-turned-pep talk, he dropped this bit of unexpected advice: “You should be more like Donald Trump.”

He didn’t mean politics.  Successful people, he argued, project an aura of self-confidence and asserted competency, both to themselves and to others, even (especially?) in the moments when they are, objectively, at their weakest and least qualified. Someone like Trump keeps rising in the polls because of his bravado and braggadocio rather than despite it. It’s essentially the same methodology pickup artists use to attract women.

red pen and ink
It’s Wednesday, writers! You know what that means.

This “fake it till you make it” approach does not come naturally to me, or as it turns out, to many women. Indeed, even when we’ve legitimately earned our successes, we remain vulnerable to the ravages of impostor syndrome, the persistent belief that despite our accomplishments, we do not deserve our place at the table. Men struggle with this as well; a 2015 study concluded that most of the population now battles perfectionism, feelings of incompetence, and fear of success. 

The inability to recognize their own accomplishments is holding people back, because they cannot muster the courage to fully pursue their goals. If you cannot convince yourself that you are capable, it will be that much more difficult to convince others to take a chance on you. Since capability it

self is developed through practice, avoiding new things for fear of failure limits your growth potential.

The caveat, of course, is that arrogance is no substitute for competence. Style must be backed by substance. A little well-placed bluster, however, just might get the door cracked for you. It’s up to you to finish walking through.


Have you suffered from a severe lack of self-confidence? How did you overcome it?

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