When I try to imagine a confident woman, I see a woman who proudly holds her head up high and goes after her wants, needs, and dreams unapologetically and in a self-assured manner. Self-confidence, to me, is like armor. Judgment and negativity from the outside bounce right off. Confidence comes from being aware of one’s own power and strength. But it is more than that – it comes from knowing this power and strength to be the truth. Having absolute, unwavering faith in it.
And I always imagined I can only share my authentic story if I am clear about it, if I own it, if it comes from a place of utter confidence within myself.
But when I look in the mirror, I see a woman with fears, doubts, and insecurities looking back at me. Sometimes. At other times, I see a happy, joyful woman. And at other times even a confident woman who tells herself that she is awesome and means it. One thing is for sure, though. There is nothing unwavering about her. On some days she can rely on strengths from within. She can stand proud and self-assured, carrying off that beautiful shining armor. On other days she is … permeable. Whatever is coming from the outside is filtering in. And because of that she is never “absolute”.
There is another definition for the word confidence: Telling private matters and secrets with mutual trust.
This opens up a whole different perspective on having the confidence to share one’s authentic true story. If confidence comes from within, from having absolute faith in oneself, what is “mutual” about that?
Having the confidence to share my authentic story means I have to have faith in “the other”, the person I am telling this private story to, too.
I can’t do that if I wear my armor – I can’t be just my impenetrable self.
Suddenly telling our authentic story from a confident place within ourselves sounds easy. We could pretend we are wearing the armor, at least for a while. Just get it all out there, no matter how we feel about it.
But when we consider the “other”, the person we are telling the story to, and allow ourselves to see our story within the context of all the other stories out there, we get even more hesitant to share ours.
Our business is about what we create – the product is important, not our story. A few sentences in the About section on our website should be sufficient, right? And even then, better not get too personal. Is it really anyone’s business and do people even want to know? The underlying reason is, of course, that we don’t feel there is anything special about us and that we are insignificant.
We see other people’s success and we see how we are different to them. We imagine what makes us different makes us less then. We wish we’d be like them and feel ashamed of what differentiates us from them. Maybe we don’t have a degree like them. Or we live in a different country. Or we are missing that bubbly, sparkling personality we think is essential to success. Or we fear that as mothers we are viewed as less dedicated, serious, or committed than our childless competitors. We feel like we don’t match up. Or worse, we fear that once people find out who we really are, behind that facade of our business, they will identify us as imposters.
What is a personal story other than a narrative? We know many people in the marketing space that use very personal stories to sell their products. Is that even still authentic? And even if we tried – is there such a thing as one authentic story?
What I choose to reveal in my biography, in interviews etc. is all true. But it is carefully selected to highlight what my fiction is about and make me relatable to fans of this particular type of fiction.
Now, the whole premise of my blog is to stay true to who we are in motherhood instead of trying to become whatever our culture and others define as what being a good mom constitutes. I am on a mission to encourage moms to redefine motherhood on their own terms and help them perceive their “weaknesses” as strengths. I have chosen to make myself vulnerable and share my own story and my own perceived weaknesses. And I am confident to share my “mom story” because no matter how people react to it; it serves a purpose. I want to inspire other moms to confidently own their mom story, too.
Only recently I have stopped viewing these two businesses completely separately and have started to tell my “whole story” – I told my whole story publicly on MotherHustle, in fact. What stopped me before? I’m not sure, actually. Did I fear other mothers couldn’t relate to me if they find out that next to a mom I am also a fiction writer from Germany? Was I afraid that young adult urban fantasy readers don’t want to buy my books if they find out I am a mom in her late thirties?
I do know what made me have the confidence to tell it, though!
I have recently started to engage with business women and creators in membership groups on a personal level. I have gotten to know women behind the business facade. Mompreneurs who are constantly negotiating their stories as creators, business women, and moms (… and wives, and friends, and whatever else they may be). And I realized one thing:
The woman looking at herself in the mirror: She does and she is everywoman. We all feel insignificant, insecure, and like imposters sometimes, no matter how successful. And sometimes we feel on fire, confident we are going to conquer the world. This is where I find “mutual trust” applies. In knowing there are other women out there who are constantly rewriting their own personal stories and battle with sharing it.
So in the end, my confidence come from inner strength and knowing myself as much as from making myself vulnerable and “permeable” – from letting others in. And from being okay with the fact that my authentic story is fluid – everyone’s is.
Antje Frey is an indie author and also writes about her journey as a mom of a spirited child on her blog. She is on a mission to encourage other moms to redefine motherhood on their own terms. Follow her on Instagram at FreyaSpiritedMom. Make sure to take her quiz to find out what your biggest hurdle to enjoying motherhood is.
Access our free Members-Only Portal + get exclusive stories delivered weekly