Sometimes, the brightest smiles hide the deepest secrets, the most beautiful eyes have cried the most tears, and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain. - Anonymous
In the recent survey, most of you have indicated that you'd like to hear more thoughts on self confidence. The Cambridge English dictionary defines self confidence as the belief that you can do things well and that other people respect you. However, what is left out from this definition is how is one to assess their own self confidence or more importantly, how is it built up. In the world we live today, we are always striving to impress someone or trying to fit in; whether it is during a job interview, at a networking event, or simply even in the group of our friends or even try and prove a point to your family.
We often talk about peer-pressure when it comes to teenagers, and how it is the biggest struggle to find friends without giving in to the peer pressure to fit in. Yet really, is the peer-pressure only applicable to teenage years? A recent psychological study showed that when kids grow up in a family, where they always have to prove themselves or live the life plan of their parents, they are more likely to find themselves to share the following characteristics: people pleasing, often in abusive and controlling relationships, cannot make up their minds, become followers rather than leaders. This has a major impact on the self confidence.
We also have our own insecurities; some of which we are born with so to speak, but some are then cultivated by our experiences be it professional or personal. Someone you are dating once compared you to someone else, or your supervisor questioned your actions, or called you and idiot in front of the clients - all these would add up to major insecurity issue and lack of self-confidence.
Having experienced traumatic events in my life, I know for a fact that it is a tough one to bounce back from. It takes time to gain your confidence back and the most important realisation is that it is OK to give yourself time, to learn how you trust yourself. However, we should not let our insecurity take the best of us and eat up our lives. As tough as it is, it is important to open up and trust your gut feeling again.
I tend to hide behind my insecurities a lot, always doubting every single thing: my looks, my jokes, my work, my friends - literary everything. To tackle the issue, I have taken up sports and have gone through a cleanse starting from nutrition to the circle of friends, trying my best to surround myself with things that make me happy, and letting myself be a little selfish in prioritising me first. This may seem shallow or strange, but it is a step closer to loving yourself. After all, you have to learn to love yourself for who you are before you can let anyone else in, right?
I define self confidence as a journey. A journey that one has to take with oneself learning all the traps and hiccups on the way, and always striving to be better and become someone one is supposed to be. Any thoughts?
Have you ever felt like the world around you stopped making any sense? It is almost like everything you've known has disappeared or has been transformed somehow into something unknown. It is like waking up from a dream and seeing the true colors of the situation, true colors of personalities around you and true colors of yourself. The situation being strange in itself, almost paradoxical, living in a neutral country with a roof over your head and food on your table and the job to provide for all of the above – what could possibly be missing or go wrong in this scenario? Perhaps, when you live in a well-developed country, you are more focused on fairly superficial aspects of your life than on the important things. Though can we call personal well-being superficial? You'd say well it depends to which point we stretch the term "well-being" - maybe having another Prada bag is not a crisis enough and is indeed superficial, but feeling like you are on the edge of a burn-out – is more of a real time issue.
"The Most Exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well that's just fabulous." - Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City
I do not know whether it is the fact that this morning I had left my house wearing my Prada high heels or whether I have recently re-watched Sex and The City, but walking the streets of Lausanne this afternoon, I felt like Carrie Bradshaw: confident, in love with life, walking towards the new adventures with no clear guide book or map to the next turn.
It has always been a dream to live a lifestyle similar to the one of Carrie Bradshaw, being a young aspiring writer, writing a column in the best selling magazine, leading a lifestyle that is making me happy and being surrounded by the friends that have become my family. Though fashion has never been in my key interests, I can draw parallels between my life and the fictional life of Carrie Bradshaw - though those of you who actually know me might argue I am a Charlotte.
Just like Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha - we all go through life looking for big love, creating a family, succeeding at work, and simply enjoying life while we are at it. Today, for the first time in a long time, it has struck me how important it is to feel comfortable in your own shoes, be it Prada or Havajanas - as long as you are feeling yourself, you are on your way to happiness. The thing is that people - society- will always have their say on what you wear, who you date or what you eat - but what matters is how YOU feel about this and no one else.
Having spent a day with other beautiful girls around, it has also come to my attention how we each have our own insecurities, we are scared of the future, or afraid that we won't fit in, and our looks and/or wealth do no matter - because when we are socialising and building our future, all that matters is being yourself - being authentic and being comfortable with who you are. Having spoken to the girls about their dating experiences before marriage, has inspired to not give up hope, which has been slowly fading away. Having talked about my own insecurities made me realised that even the most beautiful girl in the room still felt that she may not be good enough and skilfully masked it throughout the event Knowing that you are not alone in this chaotic world, helps you put things into perspective a little.
"They say nothing last forever. Dreams change, trends come and go, but friendship never goes out of style." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City
With this being said, it seems that despite a few challenges on the way, we are all making the best we can of our lives and, yes, we struggle and we have make mistakes - but it is part of our journey that we have to embrace and not hide from. Carrie Bradshaw always believed she will find her big love, the real love, the person with whom you fall in love every day - and as we know she found what she was looking for. It was not easy, a series of strange boyfriends, and almost proposal and an almost a wedding and at the end all these events made her who she really was meant to become and her true love was still there for her, for when she was finally ready for it.
Maybe it is not about the search of love - maybe it is about the search of yourself, let yourself fall in love with you before the right person can notice you. Maybe you already met your person, but he cannot see you yet as a the end-game because you are not letting him. Maybe you should forget about everyone and wear that vintage Dior tutu skirt and walk the streets of your city with high heels and a smile on your face - like a little sunshine.
Honestly, I feel like I let myself down, we all agree that I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I feel like I was unfair towards myself - forgiving of others when I should not and yet harsh on my own edges. Would Carrie Bradshaw have forgiven a cheating boyfriend or a betrayal of a close friend? Maybe not or maybe she would and then put her thoughts into the words and let them flow telling the story of her life. So if I have it my heart to forgive the unbearable, why can't I find it my heart to forgive myself, to believe in myself and finally accept that I am good enough and worth fighting for?
"So just love, make mistakes, and have wonderful times, but never second-guess who you are, where you have been, and, most importantly, where it is you are going." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City
Although I am learning a lot from Carrie in the dating scene, I am also learning from her in professional scene. I have always dreamed of a little apartment in New York and of becoming a writer one day. Perhaps the New York dream, will always stay a dream, but maybe if there is enough strength and faith I will one day become a published writer. What is your dream?
There is one more thing that Carrie has taught me - life will eventually work itself out, no matter how hard we try to predict it, or run away from it - whatever is meant to happen will fall into place eventually. The puzzle will eventually become a full picture and the best thing that we can do is just relax and let this journey take us where we are meant to be.
"Eventually all the pieces fall into place ... until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City
Share in comments below what you have learnt from Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha and/or your favourite quotes from the series for inspiration.
Margin of error- more commonly referred to as the benefit of the doubt, is the subject that has been on my mind for a while now. As some of you may know, I have had many changes in my life recently: new job, back in the dating game, renovating my apartment and no guidebook to the right answers - so it is trial and error kind of journey. I am almost 4 months into my new lifestyle and still trying to figure life out.
The thing is that I am so quick to give another person a second chance, to consider giving them a benefit of a doubt or to simply overlook some things because I care for the person - but also so quick to cut myself short and not leave any margin for error.
Not leaving any room for error, can hurt your professional and social life, trust me I know. Professionally, you need to realise that a) nothing is set in stone, b) there will always be work to do and c) you are a human and mistakes can happen, as long as you undertake an action to fix it - there is no issue.
Personally, well this is where the lines are blurred. It is a call you make having heard your heart and mind and keeping in mind that you live in the world of relatives. There is no one rule that can help you each time you have to take a decision with a matter of heart. It is up to you to choose your path and to make sure that no matter what you do - you are not settling for someone just because it is time. It is easier to let someone in knowing very well that they might disappoint you - this way the disappointment hurts less as it is expected. It is the same with work, it is easier to undertake tasks you know you can compete and so you stay within your comfort zone - the margin of error in these situations is usually quite low. Is it what we are looking for: a calculated risk analysis in choosing the partner? What happened to the romance and passion and finding the one person that understands you and is slightly outside of your comfort zone making you be the better version of yourself?
It is the minute that you step out of your comfort zone that you feel like the spotlight is on you- and barely anyone likes that feeling be it in personal or professional setting. Even if you are not doing anything crazy and even if you were, why care? Yet you do care because - you do not want to step into the trap and fly and then if something goes wrong fall too hard. Yet if you never fly - you will never reach your full potential that you were meant to.
So it is the error part that I am struggling with. Is it ok to give yourself time to adjust to a new lifestyle and to doubt yourself every step of the way? I wonder if someone can be both insecure and confident at the same time or is this a complete and absolute oxymoron.
I have not yet come up with a solution but what I know is that we should allow ourselves a margin of error and give the others a benefit of the doubt - we might be surprised of the outcome.
*I do not own any rights to the picture below - it is used for the blog post only
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
It’s still something that I am learning daily that we should only be surrounded by people who matter and those who don’t mind us being ourselves and love us in spite of who we are and how we are.
They don’t mind our looks, habits and sometimes unfunny jokes - they love being around us because they love how we make them feel when we are together. People who mind your attitude, get embarrassed of you or simply don’t understand that you come from a different culture and publicly mock you for that are not the people you want to keep in your lives.
So walk away silently and remember keeping #mindovermatter
Today, let's talk about letting go of expectations and lifting off pressure of yourself. The expectations that we have of ourselves and of the others are built up over the years; they come from our culture, family values and upbringing, as well as from our own experiences. We often put up walls and stress out because we want to perform and to exceed expectations, but what we often forget is that sometimes good enough is good enough. Except it is not for the case for overachievers.
The feeling of constantly being under pressure and that continuous self-doubt is often intensified by the circumstances: a colleague at work discredited your work or a friend that has put you down, a family member that did not see how far you came from when you were younger. Yet this remains a feeling that is internal and perhaps sometimes overly exaggerated, as the people around us may not have the same expectations or thinking at all. In fact most of the times, people around us do not have any expectations at all.
Having high expectations is what creates unhappiness, because when we realise that our expectations are not met than there is a void that cannot be filled and that makes us upset. As someone who has high expectations of myself, I can tell you for a fact that the drawback is that you have the same high expectations of the others and often end up being disappointed when the others do not follow through.
The walls that build up around us and the stress that mounts up around it can be hurtful not only in the workplace environment but also in the personal life. Let's say you met someone and you have spent a few days together and all of a sudden the communication slows down, you start stressing because there is a new level of uncertainty but is it because the person is not replying or because you feel like you are letting yourself down by not being able to build a new relationship after one week? Or maybe you have asked for help from your colleague and they are busy or do not have the time or simply told you that it is not part of their job description - all of which are valid instances - but for you it means like the world has ended because you would never let yourself let your colleague down. See how quickly we have build the void between the expectation and the reality?
So how do you deal with letting go of expectations and lifting pressure?
As the year is coming to a close and I am turning a new page in my life, I am ready to draft the resolution for 2019. The thing is that in Russia we have a nice tradition of writing down the wishes for the upcoming year, while the clock strikes midnight, and then burn it and drop it in your glass of champagne so that your wishes will come true. I know you are thinking this is crazy or just another superstition, but trust me it really works. For the past decade, I have made the same wish all over again, and every year I faced disappointment. Last year, I made a different wish and finally got what I wished for all these years in the past. I think it just goes to show that life gives you what you need when you need it most, even if you may not know it. It also goes to show that if you wish for something really hard, the forces that drive our lives make our dreams come true.
So, whilst I have decided to walk into 2019 with no expectations and my wishlist being limited to two items: happiness and health for my loved ones. I am walking into 2019 with a resolution to be better, to be fearless of being outside of my comfort zone, and this is what the list essentially comes to:
1. Apply for a job that I think I am not qualified for
2. Try something new each month, that I have never done before (dance class, fly a kite, writer's retreat, etc.)
3. Make amends and be forgiving
4. Less shopping (if at all possible, maybe it can be my something new each month)
5. Talk to a stranger in a coffee shop or a bookshop
6. Meet more people in person and delete my Tinder, Match.com, Bumble accounts - yes, I have all of the above and definitely #noshame
7. Let go of fear
8. Make at least a few steps in getting closer to starting your own business
9. Be more daring
10.Take more risks
11. Be more financially liable = less shopping
12. Make a difference at least in one's person life - leave a footprint/impact in someone's life
13. Travel more: alone or with someone
14. Forget the past and move on to the future and remember to live in the present
15. Stop making plans, and live day by day
16. Fall in love
17. Finally Find Myself - FFM
So, here is my draft resolution for 2019 - what about you?
It is slightly over a month before Christmas and New Years, and here I am sitting in a coffee shop with no idea what is going to happen in the coming months. My entire world is about to change and there is that "warm and fuzzy" feeling of excitement and fear blended together. I have now decided to take life into my own hands and finally take a leap of faith. Faith in myself, first of all, and believe that I am capable of becoming someone on my own: starting my own business perhaps or perhaps simply moving away for a few years. I have realised that it is now time to stop making a living and start making a life that counts. I was inspired by a few incredible women who have let go of their fear and have build up their own empires or maybe small business for a start and I want to be standing right by their side.
Am I scared? Yes, terrified to pieces with no idea of what is coming next. Yet when I put my feelings on a balance, the feeling of excitement outweighs the feeling of fear by far.
With nothing holding me back here in Switzerland, I am finally free to fly and my destination list is too vast, so where should I start?
Indeed, I am very tempted on going on an Eat Pray Love adventure, but I am not there just yet. For now,
The list is endless and luckily I have the time on my hands. I have been also thinking of just flying somewhere, anywhere, and building my life there from scratch. It is an incredible feeling knowing that your life can take any turn you want it to take.
The thing is that although, I do not know where I am going, I know that I am on the right path and I could not be more thrilled about the new adventures.
"It's when ordinary people rise above the expectations and seize the opportunity that milestones truly are reached." Mike Huckabee
*I do not own any rights to the image below, the image is used for the blog purpose only
We live in the shadow of our own fears and dreams. Sometimes, however, you need to take the leap of faith and trust that you are making the right choices. It is absolutely normal to fear the change and the challenge ahead of you and yet you have to remind yourself that it worth taking the risk.
Last week, I met a someone who has told me an inspiring story: he quit his job and decided to pursue his dream and passion of becoming a videographer or as he calls it a creator of moving images. The story is inspiring as he is bringing to life his dream and facing the challenges as they come, he is stepping over to the side, where he is no longer employed in a job but is following his passion.
It is normal to feel doubtful, insecure and unsure about the next steps but it is important to have a strong support system in form of family or friends that believe in you. You are lucky if you have that. Should you find yourself facing this alone, please do not let it stop you from going forward. Think about it this way: you being alone means you can learn from your own mistakes, make new friends along the way and make your dream a reality.
I am also inspired by the recent film "The Greatest Showman" - it is a film that touches upon a very important topic that we are all concerned by: secrets and insecurities - feeling comfortable with yourself and being able to never give up and pursue your dreams. So, ask yourself what would you do if you would decide to pursue your dream - what would it be?
When I was asked this question, I was surprisingly out of words for a minute and then ideas started flying around the room bouncing off the walls. So, by talking about this and opening up about my dreams and hopes for the future, I realised two things a) my ideas are actually worth pursuing and are not stupid as I thought they might be b) I need to structure and focus my thoughts because at the moment these are just a list of ideas. Lesson learned: do not be afraid to talk about your dreams and hear feedback, learn from this feedback and take into account for your next steps.
I am still learning how to overcome the fear in the process and there will be more posts coming on that. Nonetheless, one step in overcoming your fear of pursuing your dreams is to let go of the insecurity thinking that you are not good enough because this is the biggest con in history. You are good enough, you are unique in your own way and you have so much to offer to the world and you do not even know it yet.
So here are a few quotes from "The Greatest Showman" that could be little reminders for you and give you a little encouragement:
Step 6: Attitude & Perspective
I have embarked on this journey to a make over and one of the things that has once again come to my attention is attitude. Attitude towards this change: how do I perceive the change? How do I learn from mistakes that I have made? What do I take away from this experience? Also, attitude, towards my colleagues, friends and family, as well as the attitude towards the situations that I face daily. Perspective: is another thing has re-surfaced to my attention recently. We perceive same situations differently based on our backgrounds, upbringing, culture, values or bias etc. and it is important that we do not loose the sight of perspectives.
It is amazing how much attitude can change the entire situation because at the end of the day it is all about how we perceive things. In a way, attitude can set a certain tone to your behaviour and actions and keeping a positive and respectful stand in any situation cannot be underestimated. The question really is: how do you know what is the right path to take?
We are all human and we all make mistakes, and if you choose to learn from your mistakes then you will be less upset in the first place that you made a mistake. Also we have to accept that we are human and mistakes happen. If you have a problem, or an issue, and are challenged because it seems like there is no solution - think again and change your perspective and thinking. Look at the situation from a different angle. If you have worked hard on something and last minute changes happened that have completely overthrown your previous work and you have to start from scratch in the limited time span - do not start swearing off everything and everyone you know. If you think that it was probably for a reason and this situation has made you be more creative in a limited time, you probably took away and learnt more from this experience.
You know the saying "mind over matter" - it is true and it is all about the attitude and perspective. So, how do we change our perspective/attitude or thinking. It does not happen overnight but here are a few steps that have helped me and might be useful for you too:
So what is it that you perceive?