Well duh. Of course we do. Since it’s mostly women who read my blog, I feel we can talk amongst ourselves. So just between us, when I read this article about our lack of confidence, I felt a blush of familiarity.
“The Confidence Gap” posits that there’s another reason why women are not breaking the glass ceiling, besides the tug of motherhood and entrenched sexism. It’s our confidence level.
That’s so us.
As a speaker, teacher and coach, I see this “confidence gap” with women clients, female students, and at conference sessions full of women. So many aren’t sure they are ready to write that book or go for it with their blog or write for publication. They think they need more credentials, more classes, more conferences.
Women take months to start a project, because we are not sure we can do it. I procrastinated for two years before starting this blog. That was five years ago this month, and this blog has been a source of joy ever since. Men, on the hand, do not hesitate as much.
As the authors state: “Do men doubt themselves sometimes? Of course. But not with such exacting and repetitive zeal, and they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do. If anything, men tilt toward overconfidence…”
We women writers have a black belt in hesitating. We don’t want to fail. The writer Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about this movingly in an interview: “Fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear that I am washed up, fear that I am and have always been a fraud, fear that I will get a nasty review in The New York Times…do you want me to keep going with this list?”
Fortunately, she has a good solution to being vulnerable and getting down on yourself. It’s to build yourself up. “Going all Vince Lombardi” on yourself, as Gilbert says, might also help with perfectionism. This is an issue for every writer. We keep trying to make our work better, and so often, we never think it is good enough. But perfectionism is a confidence killer, and it is especially a problem for women.
Here’s another fascinating observation from the article: “Study after study confirms that it is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. We watch our male colleagues take risks, while we hold back until we’re sure we are perfectly ready and perfectly qualified. We fixate on our performance at home, at school, at work, at yoga class, even on vacation. We obsess as mothers, as wives, as sisters, as friends, as cooks, as athletes.”
Recognize yourself here? I do. It would be ironic to end this article by proposing that we all work on ourselves. Let’s just be aware of our “confidence gap” and start with that. And please tell me, I’m not imagining this about us, right? Do these points resonate with you?
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