I am, and have always been, a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ kinda gal. If you interview me for a job, I promise you, you’ll think i’m the coolest, most self-assured, confident person you’ve met all day. If I have to do some filming (for work, nothing exciting), again, this strange part of my personality comes out and suddenly i’m relaxed, have presence, and am ready to go, instantly. Yet in my everyday life, I am embarrassingly self-conscious and unassured.
I’m not confident about the way I look, the things I say, or my own abilities. At times it is exhausting having to ignore the various thoughts in my head persistently reminding me what a useless, unattractive person I am, and just get on with my life and whatever the task at hand. I could write paragraphs about all the things wrong with me physically, from always being just a little too fat for my liking, to my eyebrows being uneven and consequently giving my face a lopsided appearance. I question my own abilities constantly. Despite being consciously aware that i’ve performed well in my first job, I still can’t shake the feeling of not being good enough. I persistently worry that i’m not creative enough to be in my industry or clever enough to keep up with the competition. I worry that i’ll amount to nothing. It’s incredibly tiresome.
I wish I was as confident as the girl I become in a job interview, or the girl that suddenly springs to life when asked to talk on camera, but i’m not, and I fear I never will be. I think I could look like Gigi Hadid and hold a doctorate from Oxford University, and i’d still think I was a piece of shit.
I’ve thought long and hard about where all my insecurities have come from. Physically, I think i’ve always felt unattractive next to my friends, and that has stayed with me throughout my life. I always felt like the chubby, ugly friend. I’ve never seen the film The Duff (what a horrible concept, by the way), but my first, my very first thought upon hearing about it was “that’s me, i’m the Duff.”
Growing up I was always a little chubbier than my friends. My mum has always been very weight conscious (even though she’s tiny, I might add) and so I think I was probably quite conscious of my body from a fairly early age. I even felt so unattractive next to them I started avoiding going to the local ‘nappy night’ at a club in my hometown. My friends all got their first ‘proper’ boyfriends before me, leading me to believe I was even more hideous than i’d initially suspected. To me, they felt like goddesses, goddessing their way through life, and I was merely their average companion. They were Beyonce, I was Jay Z.
Mental insecurities are little harder to pin down because there’s more evidence to support my not being stupid than being stupid. I never tried hard at school. I never really revised for my GCSEs or A levels, but I still did pretty well. That said, I got into the university I did because I took a gap year and went during the year that the fees went up (an example of my brilliance right there), and consequently universities were letting in any old riff raff. I think because i’d kind of conned my way in, I never felt as clever as my friends that had got a place through achievement and merit, rather than sheer bloody luck. I did well in the end, and in some cases better than my friends, but because of my confidence issues, it never mattered how well I did, the fact was, I wasn’t worthy from the get go. Any achievement must’ve be luck.
Confidence is an incredible quality. It’s a quality that draws people in and encourages a following. It’s so attractive to be confident. You can feel what it’s like to be around confident people; the chances are they’re leading the conversation, or making thought-through and insightful points. Perhaps they’re just standing around, but they’re probably standing tall and looking amazing even in the grubbiest of clothes. I see girls who are bigger than me rocking outfits that I would never wear because i’m too “fat”, and yet they look phenomenal. I’ve tried to do that, I really have. But every time I wear something a little revealing, say, a crop top and some jeans, i’ll spend the entire night tugging up my jeans trying to cover my midriff, aggressively breathing in every time I sit down. I’ve since decided it’s just not worth it. Perhaps i’m destined for loose dresses and shirts forever.
I wonder if my confidence will grow as I get older. It’s certainly improved since I was a teen, so it follows that as I get older and move through my career i’ll become more confident in my abilities as more evidence gathers that i’m not completely useless. However, i’m not sure i’ll ever be confident in my physical appearance. If I ever make lots of money i’m sure i’ll feel better about the way I look because i’ll botox my face until I can’t form expression, and i’ll pay for a personal trainer to kick my arse into shape, but really, that does nothing to solve the root of the problem. No matter how much body positivity dances around the internet, no matter how often I hit the gym or plaster make-up on my face, I just can’t see myself ever embracing my looks.
All that said, there are worse things in life, and as i’ve grown up, I’ve realised looks are not the most important personal quality. Kindness, emotional strength and intelligence, for example, vastly outstrip looking gorgeous first thing in the morning. It’s just a shame it’s so easy to forget in a world so utterly obsessed with the way we look.