“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.” – Mindy Kaling
I’ve emailed and had coffee with a lot of young girls (and some boys!) looking to break into the sports world. Their questions are usually what you might expect — How did you get your start? Where do you recommend getting an internship? How you meet the right people to get your foot in the door?
But there’s one girl in particular, who I’ve spoken with many, many times, who often asks about something else: My confidence. It’s a sticking point for her as she looks to enter a cutthroat and brutal industry. She’s worried she doesn’t have enough belief in herself to deal with losing out to other candidates for a job, getting criticized by readers, or being picked apart by trolls and jerks on social media.
I have trouble explaining to her why I don’t worry so much anymore about being the prettiest, skinniest, smartest, funniest person in the world. I just let myself BE and know that that’s enough. I know that it didn’t come overnight, this feeling of assuredness and comfortability with who I am, so I can’t tell her to snap her fingers and find it. I also know that sometimes confidence fails me. Sometimes I do get in my head about all the ways I’m not good enough, but those moments are fleeting now, when they used to feel all too common.
The best way to put it is to say my confidence is earned. I’ve been validated, slowly but surely, by my bosses, my peers, my friends, my readers/viewers and, finally, after all that, myself. And I’ve also come to realize that you can’t please everyone, so there will always be people who dislike me or my work, whether they’ve got a valid reason or not. Instead of getting caught up in that, I focus on the good stuff. Of course, that’s easy to say NOW and so hard to tell someone who’s just starting out and hasn’t earned her confidence yet.
I always feel like I come up short trying to explain it. Then, I found it.
A section in (my imaginary future best friend) Mindy Kaling’s new book, “Why Not Me?” It’s the final chapter, and it’s also entitled “Why Not Me?” It’s the perfect thing to pass along to anyone who asks me about confidence. Kaling absolutely nails it.
I recommend buying the book — I loved every page of the whole damn thing — but for now, you can check out the excerpt here, via Glamour magazine…
Mindy Kaling’s Guide To Killer Confidence