Through rising anger with every sentence, I relayed this presumed romantic anecdote about a princess who was lied to, deceived, demeaned, and stripped of her voice, ability, and freedom, in order to understand and appreciate the love she had in front of her. I am not exaggerating when I say, this “fairy-tale” was a narrative for the imprisonment of the female mind and body.
The Confidence Gap
Is it any wonder women have a hard time being true to themselves, find it difficult to make themselves visible, and falter at the last hurdle when we are raised on the falsehoods of fairy-tales? The repetitive, underlying message is that women have to be broken, lied to, psychologically abused, and that men must break their spirit, make them small, meek, and fit in a box. I think you’ll agree with me when I say, this is not what the message we need to be teaching or reading to our young children. Boys and girls.
I don’t want my four-year-old to think that men have control over our lives as women, that they will lie to us and deliberately do everything they can to beat us down. The message in these fairy-tales is so intensely skewed that it portrays women as having little to no independence, confidence, and a poor self-belief. We are raising a new generation of empowered, strong, and independent thinkers but we are still fighting the “Confidence Gap” because of stories such as this which undermine women.
Yes, we have made strides in countering these male dominated structures. In our grandparent’s era, women were not encouraged to drive, did not have their own money so relied heavily on spousal support, and quit work when children came along because that was the thing to do. Today, we have made wonderful progress, except our ability to believe in ourselves is still something which stagnates. Our confidence and self-belief has taken this hit after years of conditioning. When we become mothers, this confidence gap can really implode.
Transition to Motherhood
The transition to motherhood can be a real struggle. It is, in essence, an entire transformation on so many levels. We have been through the education system, found careers we loved or endured, and created an idea of ourselves which we believed matched our ideals. All the while we have lived in a stringently masculine environment. We were told to suppress our female cycle, ignore our female intuition, and think like a man. Men, after all, tend to overestimate their ability meaning their confidence soars. Women on the other hand, do the opposite. We have a steeper climb to tackle when it comes to breaking down barriers, striking through norms, and tackling our ambitions.
Becoming a mother places us in that box which the patriarchy believes we belong in. The feminine ideal of the nurturing mother, counter to the masculine world we are faced with. Our confidence dips, our self-belief falters, and the supposed rules become ingrained.
Regaining our confidence from within a male dominated structure, as we raise children, is not easy. We are battling against a well-established system. But it’s not as robust a system as we are told. The truth is women are powerful and wonderful and enlightened. We are leaders and thinkers and creators. We are also, however, so very much concerned with what’s in our heads. To break away from the ideals and expectations which can limit our confidence, we need to step outside of ourselves.
Challenge Your Norms
Forget about what we “should” do and live to your own truth. Be your authentic self by opening up and trusting your judgement, opinions, and ambitions. Challenge what you believe others think you should do in order to be likable and worthy. Acknowledge that you already are likeable and worthy and if others don’t agree then they are not for your path. Replace should with could and balance all challenges with what you want to do.
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
It can be uncomfortable stepping outside of our comfort zone and breaking the old programme which tells us women shouldn’t have their own opinions. Some may argue we’re not in this space anymore, but I assure you we are. Women are still kept in their place. This is about you stepping out and forward.
Hear Your Inner Critic but Don’t Let It Control You
Our inner critic is there to challenge us, make us stand up and be counted, but it’s also trying to protect us, so it can be a little nasty at times. The world is full of rejection, but if we don’t take risks we may miss those important opportunities we’re chasing. By befriending our inner critic we can counter the argument our critic is shouting at us, and if necessary tell it, “It’s ok, I’ve got this,” as we move forward confidently, aware of all possible outcomes.
Embrace Your Femininity
Remember being a woman comes with so many incredible gifts, strength, and power. If we undermine and suppress our female side we are giving into those male structures which inevitable may restrict us. By showcasing your pride in being a woman, you will lift yourself out of those structures and be truly authentic to your own beliefs.
Don’t Wait for Confidence to Show
If we wait, we are not pursuing our dreams. We’re not taking those risks which will transform our lives. Recognise that to be human is to make mistakes and making mistakes does not mean you are not worthy. We learn by doing, not by sitting on the side-lines. Trust your instincts, trust your ability, raise your voice, and lean into the challenges you face. Power through and be amazed by what you can accomplish and see how your confidence will soar.