Sunday, 16 March 2008

Confidence Issues?

Penguin Feet
(borrowed from Grant & Susan Antarctica)

JJ was talking about having confidence issues over at Tea-Stains She was talking about her work as a sculpture, and about writing too if I'm not mistaken.

And it got me thinking.

Because it seems a lot of us have confidence issues.

Especially, dare I say it... us women.

When it comes to confidence issues I think perhaps, I might be a little bit of an expert.

I didn't begin life with confidence issues. No child does. A baby doesn't come into the world thinking, "If I try to talk they'll laugh at me." No. It babbles away, blowing raspberries and cooing. It's the same when it comes to getting around. Does the baby think to itself, better not let anyone see me falling on my face? No, life does not begin with confidence issues. Experience causes them. Lots of experiences.

One of my biggest confidence issues came from being bullied as a child in school. Ten years of it, to be exact. Either I was a complete bastard who was so mean and nasty to everyone that I deserved to be beaten to pulp every day, or I was such a sad little loser that the laws of survival of the fittest meant I didn't deserve to live... But I was only 7 when it started. And on my first day of school in England the only thing I said was, "Would you guys play with me?" Okay, so I was talking to girls, and admittedly I had a very strong Canadian accent, but still. "We're girls, not guys. F***ing get her!" was not the response I had anticipated - especially not when they were only 7 ye
ars old too!

And once it starts, confidence falters and then runs as fast as it can. So I became a victim who learned to hate myself, lose faith in any abilities I had... you can work out the rest, I'm sure.

Of course you can survive just about anything if you put your mind to it, and eventually, at 17, I removed myself from the area and began a new life in London, but it took years (and plenty more harrowing experiences) before I really began to build confidence in myself. Indeed, I am still working on it, but at least I am now sharing my writing with whoever will listen. Now I have the confidence to say it's okay if people don't like what I write. Damn - it's okay if they don'
t like me! Bullying is something I hope to write about after I finish my novel - something to help others who have been bullied to see that it is not the end of the world and can actually be very positive in terms of character building!

So you're probably wondering why the Penguin pic at the outset of this post. Well, one of the many silly (but nonetheless hurtful) things the kids at school used to say was that I walked like a penguin, and they would call me Penguin Feet. And back in the 1970s we didn't have Pingu, or Happy Feet to soften the blow. To make it worse, I was a scrawny, lanky kid too, so I kind of gangled about and was ever so self conscious about it all.

I do actually have what nicer people might call 10 to 2 feet. And it makes horse riding somewhat difficult (though nothing like skiing!). A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a horsie person about this very problem.

"My feet are on at the wrong angle," I explained to this new friend. "It means I can't have my feet parallel and bend my knees, so I can't have my feet parallel to the horse in stirrups either."


She looked.

She didn't look convinced. I think she thought I was trying to get out of the fact that in all the pics of me riding, my feet are sticking out enough to make me fail BHS exams! The conversation moved on and I thought the topic had been forgotten.

But later, as we walked across a field, she looked down at my feet and exclaimed, "Bloody hell! You really do walk like a penguin!"

I looked at her, slightly irked at her excitement. Like she'd discovered Anne Boleyn had 6 fingers and a 3rd breast (really, she did!).

"But I mean it's really pronounced isn't it?!" she continued. And then the real beauty, "Did you carry your children on your feet when they were small?!" Little waddling dance to illustrate concept followed.

And the reason I tell you all this is not to make friend out to be tactless git - I'd like to think she was embarrassed and covered it up with humour.

I think perhaps the reason that she felt able to go on like that (and on and on she did go I'm afraid), was that she recognised that I am now so comfortable and confident in my skin that it doesn't matter that I have feet that stick out. And I can laugh about it now. And even better, it makes a cracking little anecdote to boot!

So confidence issues come, but they also go! And that is wonderful news. For all of us.


Penguins do not even have feet that stick out because if they did, their eggs would roll away! Even ducks have straight feet - splayed but on straight. Pity it's taken me till tonight to realise that one, eh!


Moondreamer said...

Lovely post, Lisa!

I love what you say about babies and confidence.

I used to have issues with my little legs, until someone said to me, "What are you moaning about? They reach your bum, don't they!"

I think we do grow in confidence as we get older and realise that the way we look is irrelevant to our worth. It's a shame young women are put under so much pressure, from so many sources. I love getting older!


hesitant scribe said...

moondreamer - cheers. It's so true what you say about age and confidence. I love growing older too!

Lane said...

Great post.

As a kid I wasn't bullied by other children but the evil nuns did a pretty good job themselves. They would make fun of the way you looked, talked, pretty much anything.

Bullying in any shape or form takes years to rectify. Some of that comes from within, but I think alot is do with support and validation from other people.

There's a perk to growing older after all:-)

JJ said...

Lisa, lovely post. Well I didn't get any persistant bullying as a child, but I felt quite a lot of pressure from my parents to succeed and perform. I don't know if it was that that gives me confidence issues, or just something in my own personality, but it's hard to ever believe anything but the little voices that nag away in your head.