About Confidence

posted in: Life 62 comments

There are a few moments in my life where I remember feeling confident: in my last job with Nike, leading the marketing team in the region’s largest market handling hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of budget; signing our marriage certificate in 2007 because it felt right; going home with my second child, because I actually know what to expect now.

For the most part though, I lack confidence. I doubt myself as a parent every day, and as a writer often. 

Fear quote

Fear lies behind my lack of confidence. I am afraid of failing my children. I worry that these people I’ve chosen to birth, whose lives depend on me in many ways, will not turn out the way I hope. I’m scared I will screw them up because I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m winging it minute by minute. I question my decisions all. the. time. (Structured activities or free play? Organic food or just let them eat whatever because at least they’re eating? Is 2 too young to attend 4 hours of school a day? Am I teaching them the right life values?)

Recently, a friend told me to change my bio in my blog – to paraphrase, she said that I should stop saying that I’m “pretending to be a writer”, because that’s bullshit. I need to own the title of ‘writer’, because I am a writer. I write words, I tell stories, I craft sentences to express myself. People pay me to write. I am a writer. I’ve been writing for a long time. My journey as one has been fraught with doubt and fear. 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I cried a little when I realized how short I’ve been selling myself. I’ve denied myself opportunities by telling myself that I’m not good enough. I cried more, when I realized that there are people who believe in me, who have always believed in me. 

Putting that fear behind me, walking in confidence, I’ve begun to put myself out there more. I’m applying for writing jobs, and submitting my pieces to sites and book anthologies. I’m telling myself that I am good enough. Sure, there are rejections galore, but if I allow failure to define me, I will never, ever try again. My light within will surely die. 

As for parenting – it’s still a day-to-day process, but isn’t that what being a mother is? We cannot ever know how our children turn out, until they do. All I can do now is to love and teach them to the best of my ability, and hope to God that I get better at this by the hour. 

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”  – Mahatma Ghandi

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • June 3, 2014 The Bride

    I identify so much with your words on the fear behind parenting. I think it’s almost inevitable to feel this fear after becoming a parent, not just a new fear but a new texture of fear.

    Regarding writing, I’ve always been fairly confident. It’s probably my only skill and one that people are willing to pay me good money for so yeah. I used to downplay it because I thought everyone could do it, until I realised everyone couldn’t and it’s a skill to be proud of. Also, not just writing but being able to write to a deadline.
    The Bride recently wrote…June 4My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      You absolutely should be proud of your writing skills!
      I think the parenting fears will never go away – as soon as we conquer one, another pops up.

  • June 3, 2014 Helen Boulos

    I love this post and I love that you are owning the title of “writer.” One of the things that keeps me coming back to your blog is your unique voice and the fact that I feel like I know you. Reading your blog is like having a cup of coffee with a friend. Thanks for sharing. You are a talented writer.

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Helen, thank you for your sweet, kind words!

  • D not fear … just look at all you have accomplished!
    And all while growing more little humans;)
    sisters from another mister recently wrote…June Solstice, understanding a season.My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Ah, Nicole. Thank you. From the heart.

  • June 3, 2014 Janine Huldie

    I left a comment, but didn’t seem o go through. Just wanted to say I, too, have my doubts at time and can feel them creeping when I least expect them. So, yes I can relate, but just know you are truly hands down a writer without a doubt and also a wonderful mom, too!! 🙂
    Janine Huldie recently wrote…Calling Bullshit – That’s My Girl!My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      You’re very sweet, Janine, thank you!

  • ‘We cannot ever know how our children turn out, until they do’. Oh how I relate.
    As for the rest, I can only second your friend: you ARE a writer. Not a pretender.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…Rerun : How to prepare for a trip to the zoo with two small childrenMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Tinne, you’re a good friend!

  • June 3, 2014 julie gardner

    It never ceases to amaze me: the people who admit to lacking confidence are often the same ones the rest of us think are oozing it. (Ooze is an unfortunate word but there it is.)

    For a long time, friends and family assumed I was super-confident, excelling in things I loved to do; but the truth is, I rarely undertook anything that wasn’t easy for me to accomplish.

    It has been in the past five years only that I’ve embraced goals I knew would be a challenge – that I may NEVER succeed in the ways I’d hoped. And that, all by itself, has been a reward. Really. RISK (physical, not emotional) can be its own reward.

    It reminds us we’re alive.

    P.S. My kids are NOTHING like I thought they’d be. They’re better 🙂

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Oh Julie, I’m just the same. Doing what is easy because hard is just….. to hard. But yes, it’s time to step out of the comfort zone and do what needs to be done, if only to say, I tried.

  • June 3, 2014 alexandra

    I am always amazed at the people who say that they feel they pale against others. And the ones who toot their horn the loudest and forever in rotation, saying “I am the best, come see, I’m SO GOOD” leave me befuddled. You can write, A, and I wouldn’t say that to you if I didn’t feel it. You parent with a conscience and with forethought, I wouldn’t say that, either, if my bones convinced me otherwise. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t feel something about any of the things you say about yourself here, I would just X out.

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Well, I think you are a fabulous mother and writer. I hope you know that in your bones. xo

  • June 3, 2014 tracy

    Damn straight – we need to own this shit. All the shit. Because we are awesome.
    tracy recently wrote…There’s No Such Thing As NormalMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      You are stupendously awesome, T. xo

  • June 3, 2014 Living Serenely

    I feel the same way about myself too. I’m always questioning myself… in work, as a parent, even if I’m likeable as a person in general. Thanks for sharing and giving me some food for thought. And btw, you ARE a writer. I totally echo what your friend says. So change up that bio!
    Living Serenely recently wrote…Independent Play: Being the observer and the storytellerMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I have! And I think YOU are doing a great job all-round.

  • June 3, 2014 Akaleistar

    A big yes to this! It’s so easy to let fear get in the way, but amazing things happen when you put it all behind you 🙂
    Akaleistar recently wrote…Why Don’t You…?My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      It’s a constant work-in-progress, but I’ve got the self-belief now, and that’s half the battle won!

  • June 3, 2014 Kristi Campbell

    This post really hit home for me today. I feel like a writing fraud, do not call myself a writer, and am actually crying a little over the stress of writing an article that somebody asked me to write because surely somebody can do it better than I can. Thanks for this much-needed reminder today. And when it comes to you – you are fabulous and amazing and very very talented. Promise.
    Kristi Campbell recently wrote…Being Outside, Letting Go, Thankful, and Tractors and CowsMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Kristi, I can tell you that you are a great writer. Take it from me. Promise. 🙂

  • June 4, 2014 Jennie Goutet

    This post made me gleeful to read, particularly knowing that your writing has been validated in a concrete way. Please keep submitting and putting your stuff out there. xo
    Jennie Goutet recently wrote…Summer Rice SaladMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I will most definitely try! Now, I just need to have healthy kids so they can go to school and leave me a few hours to write. 🙂

  • June 4, 2014 Tricia

    Oh I am right there with you. And I’m finding that it’s not even a conscious fear all the time. I don’t consciously not put myself out there. I just avoid and put things off until the opportunity has faded or gone away. And it’s silly. I look forward to seeing the results of the work you’re doing now. You are a writer and a lovely one at that.
    Tricia recently wrote…The dream-a-dream two stepMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      That was me before! I just told myself, I’ll do it. Later. Later comes and goes. And I just don’t. And I realized that I need to make things happen, not let things happen to me.

  • June 4, 2014 Tamara

    I don’t think I’ve noticed that in your bio or I would have told you to take it down immediately! Not that you have listen to me. I have struggled with crippling confidence problems, seemingly forever.
    Other times, it grows in the other direction. I start charging more for my work. I start chasing down paychecks I deserve. I start applying for opportunities – SITS Community Lead, anyone?

    See I do want to be like you!
    Tamara recently wrote…It’s A Little Bit Funny..My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I think you’re much more than you think you are, Tamara. I hope you know and believe that.

  • June 4, 2014 Natalie

    Yes I agree you are writer and a good one at that! And I think as mothers we are destined to doubt ourselves and our choices. It’s a hard curse to rise above…but we can because we doing the best we can!
    Natalie recently wrote…Back from the BeachMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I would like to think we are, yes!

  • June 4, 2014 Lisa

    So true! Love those quotes, too. I had confidence int he beginning as a blogger, but, as I have been rejected more and my following has not grown the way I hoped, my confidence is faltering. Hopefully, I’ll find it again soon.
    Lisa recently wrote…Songs of MotherhoodMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Lisa, you’re doing great. Don’t ever doubt that.

  • June 4, 2014 Katie

    It’s always strange to me to read that the people I think have really “made it” and can do anything they set their heart to struggle with lack of confidence. Sometimes I let that tell me that if people like Alison don’t have self-confidence, how in the WORLD can I muster any up! But mostly I think…hey, me too. And we got this, yo.
    Katie recently wrote…The HerStories Project: celebrating female friendshipsMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Oh hon, I just put on a good show. 🙂 Yes, WE CAN DO IT.

  • June 4, 2014 Kristin shaw

    Believe it! You are good enough and smart enough. You’re going to teach your kids to reach for the stars, and they’ll go faster and further than we ever will. 🙂
    Kristin shaw recently wrote…Friday FavoritesMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I hope so, Kristin. That is all I want to do.

  • June 4, 2014 Rorybore

    I am beginning to understand and accept that often the thing you fear the most — is the thing you probably should be doing.
    Rorybore recently wrote…WW: Catch Me If You CanMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      That is a GREAT perspective!

  • June 4, 2014 Amy

    Few things can shake your confidence like being a parent. Or writing down your innermost thoughts and sharing them with the universe. But I love your perspective here. Own them both! Forget fear! I’m good at saying this, but not actually doing this. Baby steps.
    Amy recently wrote…ResetMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Saying it is the first step! YOU CAN DO IT!

  • June 4, 2014 Jess

    I can relate 100 percent, especially with parenting! I constantly worry and second guess myself, overthink decisions etc. It is no doubt a shame and waste of head space to fill our minds with doubts. Confidence is underrated and hard to come by at times. Great post!
    PS goodluck with the new twins, I have twins, they are lots of work and lots of fun! 🙂
    Jess recently wrote…Welcome to the world baby girl!My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Jess, and hello fellow twin mom!

  • June 5, 2014 Kara

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this! I feel like I’m “pretending to be a writer” and can really relate. (I’ve always felt like it was just me that thought this way!) It’s been a very slow process, but when I stop constantly selling myself short, I see so much more progress! Sending lots of positivity your way 🙂
    Kara recently wrote…Wineglass Marathon Training: Week 1My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Kara, I hope you own the writer title!

  • June 5, 2014 tara

    I struggle with this so much all the time! I want to be a writer, no I am a writer, but for some reason I’m afraid to admit it in case someone tells me I’m not good enough. Writing is one of those things that’s so precious to me, I didn’t want anyone to be able to take it away from me.
    tara recently wrote…book review: wild by cheryl strayedMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Tara, do what I did. Own the title of writer, and you’ll be great!

  • June 5, 2014 Bev

    Yes! This post so resonated with me. I too fear that I am somehow doing things wrong as a parent…that I’m not reading to her enough, that I’m not talking to her enough, that I’m not playing with her enough, that I’m not giving her enough opportunities to play by herself. I just have to have confidence that I’m trying to be the best parent I can be. And I definitely get that feeling of pretending to be something I think I’m not, but I have slowly learned to own them. You are most definitely a writer, and from what I gather an amazing mom!
    Bev recently wrote…Perseverance: How do you define setbacks?My Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Doing the best we can, really, that is ALL we can do. And thank you!

  • June 5, 2014 Stephanie

    I can relate to your words here. I’m going to admit I’m shocked by them, too. I’ve been reading your words fairly regularly for almost a year and would have never expected to hear the words fear, lack of confidence or pretending. I don’t know you personally but what I see, read and take from you are not those things. Smart, confident, strong, creative…I would have expected those. It’s a struggle for many (myself included) to view ourselves outside of the million voices in our heads but I hope you find a way to see yourself, even a little, as how you appear here. I don’t think you could present this way if it wasn’t true and part of who you are.
    Stephanie recently wrote…HomeMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Stephanie, thank you. It’s always wonderful to get a glimpse of what others see in you, and I’m so glad and happy that I have good people around me who do. And remind me so.

  • June 6, 2014 Roxanne

    Your friend is right. You ARE a writer and you SHOULD own it.

    And asking yourself questions about your parenting is what makes you a great parent. Because you care, you love, and you are amazing.
    Roxanne recently wrote…25 Reasons I Call Him My BoyfriendMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thank you Roxanne. Truly.

  • June 6, 2014 Kim

    I struggle with confidence a lot. A lot. At times, I can feel so certain, but there are others that I question everything and feel unworthy. And yes, there is a lot of fear tied into it for me, too. But I have people who believe in me too – and I should start listening to them more. I am so with you on this, my friend.
    Kim recently wrote…Just Like ThatMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      You absolutely should believe when people tell you that you rock, Kim, because YOU DO!

  • June 7, 2014 My Inner Chick

    I AGREE.
    You either “ARE” a writer
    Or “YOU are NOT” a writer.
    You are.
    Change the f-ing bio.
    xxxxxxxxxx LOVE u.
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Carnival Cruise, Favorite New Blog, & Girl w/ the Dragon TattooMy Profile

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      I changed it!
      Love you. xo

  • June 9, 2014 Greta

    I’m so glad you got some of that confidence back. It’s not easy but it’s definitely not misplaced. You’re a rock star in my eyes.

    • June 13, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thanks, you. I think you’re pretty awesome too!

  • June 14, 2014 Julia

    I can really relate to this and I’m starting to put myself out there more. I recently was with a group of bloggers and was amazed by their confidence and I’m striving to have more of that in my life. I have only recently started calling myself a writer. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and yet I’m still uncomfortable with the word.
    Julia recently wrote…Washington Lake Park Wine FestivalMy Profile

    • June 14, 2014 Alison

      Own it, Julia! You ARE a writer.

  • June 20, 2014 Andrea

    Confidence is such a fleeting thing. I wish I had the key for defining myself as confident all the time. As it is, I struggle with believing in myself. Each day is a choice to say “I got this.”
    Andrea recently wrote…Yes, ChefMy Profile

    • June 20, 2014 Alison

      It is a work-in-progress for me too. Daily.

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