I have a friend who always responds to any self-doubt I express with “You got this.” Whether it’s work related insecurities, fretting about what to wear on a date, cutting my hair shorter (and shorter,) making a presentation, going for a promotion, moving house (or country), standing up for myself or just taking the mic at karaoke… those three words are her go to. Never flippant, never half hearted, always sincere – each and every time, she genuinely means it. She knows it to be true.
“You. Got. This.”
And by virtue of hearing her say it over and over it has become, intentionally or otherwise, my own mantra. “You got this, Fluffy.” And I mean it (almost) every time.
For my first day back to work 2015 I decided on a smart black Cue dress. Mostly when it comes to fashion I’m conservative, understated, often muted. But occasionally I go a little off-grid, surprising even myself. Like that morning, when just as I was about to walk out the door, I bypassed the black heels and teamed my conservativity (not a word, I know) with red heels.
Let’s be clear, these were not six inch, to the bar and back heels, but shiny, paten, ruby red, Dorothyesque heels. And with nothing but leg between them and the hem of my dress, those little ruby reds popped. More importantly, when I did my final twirl in front of the mirror, looking for anything unzipped, tucked into my undies or tangled in my hair, I liked what I saw. For about a second… and then the doubt crept in.
My self-doubt has many voices, sometimes loud and garish, sometimes soft and persuasive, sometimes embedded in other thoughts like subliminal messaging. I don’t even have to be listening for it to be active. If only I could harness it’s power for good.
“Really?! You’re going to match that black dress with red heels… for work?? OK, but just remember that red turns heads… for all the wrong reasons…” And so on went the dialogue. A dialogue that didn’t make any sense, but then self-doubt rarely does. The purpose of self doubt is rarely to caution, reason or advise. It is to undermine, belittle and tear down – from the inside. It is our own personal demolition. Deliberately deconstructing what we (and others) have taken so long to build up.
The problem was of course, that on my first day back to
school work, I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to turn heads. I’m the variety that needs time to reacquaint herself with the other kids first, without drawing out the school yard bully by flaunting her red shoes. I prefer to sit to the side of the room and listen to other people’s holiday stories, not stick my hand in the air and play goody two (red) shoes. And when the bell rings, I want to slip back home to my slippers and Veuve.
But looking in the mirror that morning, I also wanted to carry with me the feeling of authority that those red shoes were imbuing. The sense they gave me of putting my best foot forward every time I caught their bold colour out of the corner of my eye. Not to mention the potential to click them three times if need be. (“There’s no place like Veuve, there’s no place like Veuve…”)
And then I heard another voice – my friend’s and mine working as one – saying loud and clear “You got this, girl.” You’ve got the red shoes and the confidence to wear them. You’ve got the skills to handle the bullies who fear your bold statement. And if you want to lean in and be heard, then you can and will. And if people don’t want to listen then it’s time to suggest they step out of the room in their cheap, soulless shoes (pun intended) and let the rest of us get on with it.
And so I marched those sassy red heels out the door and rocked the world. In my own small way.
And just in case you’re wondering what the point of this post was… it was this:
You. Got. This.