Friday, 21 November 2014

Fake it to Make it

Most of you will think that I am a pretty confident person, I always come out as an extravert on the scale, but the truth is I am actually quite shy. I am always very nervous of new situations and so I wanted to let you in on a little secret...shh... I fake confidence a lot of the time.

My husband started a new job earlier this year which resulted in us having to move to Lincolnshire in September, so the last few weeks have been full of lots of new places, situations and things to explore. Sometimes I just long for that little bit of "normal" and "usual" which is probably why the school run walk has become my place of refuge, my time to think. 20 miles a week walking the same path has become my go to place for normality in amongst the busyness and settling in. I have been faced with so many situations that need my steel wall of fake confidence its unbelievable. It is easy to fool strangers into thinking you have confidence but to convince my two boys and my husband is far harder. My two boys can sense fear is on my lips even before the whisper comes from them so I have been working pretty hard on hiding it.

A few weekends ago my husband and I were invited to go away with the management team from his new work. I write it like it was just another event but this was the first time I would met people, his colleagues. It meant trying to remember who everybody is, what they do and what I know about them. It was also the first time for Matt's colleagues to meet me which I think adds extra pressure for me to look and be, not only myself but also the person they are expecting. Finally on the Saturday we had a more formal start to the event at Newmarket Racecourse where there would be an expectation for me to wear heels. Heels may actually be my biggest confidence nemesis. I never wear them, they come out for weddings, evenings out and special occasions. I live in boots and flat shoes - I have two small children afterall and I am particularly clumsy, in fact the last time I wore heels I rather embarrassingly got my heel caught on some uneven pavement and flew into the ground scraping half of my leg! So you can see my fear but I also knew I had to conquer it and smother it in fake confidence.

So to fake confidence and dull my fears I have five things I always do:

1. Prepare, plan and prepare some more. I visually try and think about the event ahead of time, going through the expectations on me, the location, ask hundreds of questions to my husband about his colleagues. Knowing information about key people beforehand I find really helps as you can come up with questions to get you out of those awkward silent moments. I always feel more confident when I know whats happening.

2. Practice walking in my heels. I pull out the heels (I only have one pair) and remember how to walk in them, I make sure I tackle a range of terrain in my pre-training. I also remind my husband on the day that my usual walking pace is significantly reduced and I NEED an arm to hold. Walking in heels is an art and needs practice.

3. Picking the right outfit. This is so crucial to my confidence and I am so glad that I realised how important it is to feel confident in what your wearing. Fashion and I have a love/hate relationship and its an area that I am gaining in confidence in slowly. For this particular weekend I picked a Hobbs dress from my wardrobe which you can eat in without it showing, it has pockets and is very flattering. Pockets mean I have somewhere to put my idle child free hands - as its very important when you are on show to not look awkward. I also practiced my make up just in case you were wondering why I had quite so much on the school run one morning!

4. Pep talks. I am always giving myself them either mentally or out loud, if you have read the hunger games trilogy Katniss is one for self pep talks too and I find they help - sometimes you just need to remind yourself you can do it and no challenge is too big. It brings perspective and focus and thats exactly what you need when you want a confidence boost.

5. Be me. I find I get so busy with the boys and being Mummy that my final preparation is to remind myself that I am a person who is more than just Mum. I take a moment (usually when I am getting ready) to switch from Mummy to Hannah mode. As a Mum I often have 10 half conversations or talk never gets far from the children so I try and remember that I need to delve beyond that point.

We finally got to the weekend away and I tried to put my nerves aside and be me. When I feel nervous I always try to either let other people talk or be the question instigator as its much easier to use a stock question that you have pre-thought about than to be coming up with an answer. My confidence grew as the day went on and I became more familiar with our surroundings and I took every opportunity I had in the day to keep swatting up with Matt about who people were. I also had a few little things that make me feel good and that boost my confidence too that are personal to me like when I put my sunglasses on I feel like I can rule the world (they went on as soon as we stepped outside onto the coach), having lipgloss in my pocket always make me feel very pretty and girly.

We had a break before dinner after we had arrived back from the races to change and refresh. I am pretty sure that everyone else went back to their rooms to sleep but I spend it going over who people were and putting names to faces that I had now met in preparation for the evening. I also tried to speak more one to one with everyone if I had an opportunity as its less daunting for me and I felt that I would come across as being more confident.

First impressions go a long way and there were a few partners who obviously didn't feel that comfortable or confident and I know that I was not one of them. Despite my nerves I know I did a great job of faking it using my toolkit above and I am sure that was the reason that I was successful. Its a real boost when despite nerves and fear you are able to pull something off with fake confidence that you weren't sure that you could, and I know that next time the nerves will still be there but not to the extent of the first meeting.

Have you ever had to fake confidence?

This is my entry into the Feminesse Great British Fake Off Blogger Competition which you can find more about here: Feminesse.

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