I had thought that once I’d hit high school that I had overcome my shyness and confidence issues. Even when I moved from home and studied at film school, it was a trait I knew was in me but I felt strongly that it no longer had a hold of me. As I’ve become increasingly independent and strived for success in a creative industry I realised I wasn’t being honest with myself and that had to change.
Whenever I reminisce about child hood with my mother she will often bring up a certain anger towards my primary school teachers for always pointing out that I was extremely shy. It took me years to understand why she found this label, which affected how they communicated with me, frustrating. She was concerned that by treating me as shy and introverted or pushing me to break out of it, it would affect my ability to overcome my social awkwardness myself, possibly diminish my natural character (such as a cautious and sensitive temperament which is apparently common in ‘shy’ children) and thus affect me in my adult life. By high school I had broken out of my shell and was quite outgoing.
‘Don’t Call my children shy’ – article by Susan Cain
Throughout my 5 years of studying film I went through the typical highs and lows of a student; struggling to pay bills, juggling two jobs and two courses, trying to uphold a long term relationship and also mature into an experienced and unique filmmaker. At the time I would have called myself an extrovert; I went out dancing with friends, was a HUGE fan of karaoke, would dress up in a whole array of vintage themed outfits, was an enormous chatterbox and a little inclined to super-hyper outbursts, and even though on the outside I seemed quite confident, I was not.
By the time I finished film school, my biggest obstacle was myself. Even though I had managed to get through the challenge of all of the above, I had hit a wall.
I was having a hard time believing in my abilities and even more so at promoting myself. At times I felt I would much rather hide away in my little office writing witty (I hope) and outgoing posts on my Facebook profile than actually exercise myself socially amongst new friends. This is awful (and very common these days – it’s not just me). The worst thing about this is that the less I made an effort to go out and talk with people the harder it was to do just that. Which when it comes to important networking and even making friends, this can be a terrible problem.
My confidence and belief of being a talented, unique and interesting filmmaker (and person) was critically low to the point that I wanted to give up.
I kept telling myself it was “too hard, everyone is more talented than me, they have the guts to speak up more and are more likely to succeed. Why would anyone ever want me?” I was crippling myself (not to mention, being very silly) and if I didn’t let go I wasn’t going anywhere.
(Read another post here about challenges I faced with Quote of the Day #15).
I found this quote by Robert Downey Jr, star of Iron man and Sherlock Holmes, who I imagine to be one of the most outwardly confident people in Hollywood. I found his idea on confidence very interesting and if anything a little encouraging. Because of what I had gone through the last few years I felt I could completely relate. I hope that others may relate also and find it reassuring how coming out the other side can give a helpful sense of perspective.
“I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.”
~ Robert Downey Jr
If I break down his thought process. If I am giving power to my ‘shy’, socially awkward and lack of confidence then, of course, I will be overwhelmed with all the repercussions that go with that behaviour. BUT if I choose to push on and put my focus in my goals then eventually I can look back over everything I achieved and I will have no excuse to say I can’t do anything as the evidence says otherwise. I suppose it’s a mind trick, but it’s a good one.
I was doing what my mother was annoyed at my teachers for doing to me as a kid. By telling myself I had no confidence and I was no good, I was holding myself back and diminishing my opportunities and ability to improve.
In the end I managed to overcome this terrible anxiety. I focused on working and developing my skills (this blog was a big help too). I worked so hard it became easy to distract myself from feeling sorry for myself. By the time I came out the other side I was laughing “haha, how stupid I was”.
I certainly have a few confidence issues still and often have moments where I beat myself up in an instant if I say something I think is idiotic or lame and will allow myself to be affected by little things. I recognise the problem but I think it is much more manageable for me to deal with. I have no issues as a filmmaker other than the typical doubts that creep in from time to time.
The main thing is that I can happily look back and see that even after all my kicking and screaming right out of film school, that I was no good and no one would want me, I then went on and had the busiest, most productive year ever. I achieved so much. Remembering that gives me confidence, so now I just need to train myself to handle my silly weak moments better and then I will be unstoppable!!!
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“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”