Because I have social anxiety and I’m super open about my fears and vulnerabilities, a lot people think I’m not confident and tell me to not sell-myself-short of be self-deprecating. I know that they’re only trying to be kind, but their mindset about authenticity and confidence is not the same as mine, which seems to be something I have to explain a lot.
I actually once had an editor who told me, “Carrie, you are the weirdest mix of incredibly confident and secure and insecure that I’ve ever met.”
I took that as a compliment.
And other people have told me, “You are amazing. Don’t present as insecure! Know your power! You are hurting yourself by showing the world who you are.”
Which is kind of them because I know they’re trying to be helpful, but the thing is that I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not. That’s a form of lying to me. I’d rather be honest and raw than polished and fake. I prefer honey over white sugar.
Being Open About Insecurities is Cool
I’m lucky. I’m secure enough to be open about being insecure. Weird, right? It shouldn’t be. I know I’m flawed – so flawed – but I’m okay with it because people are supposed to be flawed. We’re supposed to grow and mess up and make mistakes and ask forgiveness and forgive. We’re supposed to put the silverware in the dishwasher the wrong way and accidentally put our shirts on backwards.
So I embrace my lacks and goofs and imperfections. With my slurred s’s and my total lack of depth perception, I’ve never had a chance to present myself to the world as perfect. I’m too busy walking into doors and people and walls.
I know! This is not a culture that likes imperfections. We bully people for their difference. We call them names on social media and in real life. We all present the nicest, most filtered photos of ourselves doing the nicest, most acceptable things.
Embracing your failures and your lacks can seem like a fool’s journey, but here’s the thing: the fools have the most fun. I hope you’ll be a fool with me.
People pretend. A lot of us pretend we’re secure. And usually it’s the loudest, most seemingly confident people who are the least secure.
They boast. They tend to guffaw. They have loud voices. They hide themselves behind fancy toys and clothes and cars. It’s their costumes to get through life. And that’s so sad because I don’t want anyone to have a costume. The fool’s journey, my journey, is so much more fun. Laughing at your mistakes is a lot happier than dealing with the constant pressure to be perfect, to be constantly awesome.
Truly confident people? They don’t need the costumes and the accessories. They can have them of course, but they don’t need them and that’s a big difference. They embrace their fool. They fangirl and fanboy over all sorts of random things. They collect toenail clippers or memes about dolphins or whatever. They allow their feelings to be real and their dreams to be known. They wear whatever they want to wear – what feels like them.
Clothes Don’t Make the Person
All my life, I’ve been teased for my clothes and I don’t care, but I use those moments to understand other people and their insecurities.
I went on a date with a man once. I thought we were just having lunch. I didn’t realize that we were on an actual date date because I am clueless about things like that. It was way below freezing. I had to walk to get to the restaurant. Imagine walking in 18-degree weather and there is a sea wind gusting down an almost abandoned street. Even the clams were hiding. I was layered. So layered.
I got there and the man, a banker, looked at me and said, “You look homeless.”
Nice way to create a hierarchy of worth, right? But he didn’t care that I looked a bit over-layered. He still liked me. What he cared about that he was with someone who wasn’t looking snazzy. I was insulted. I felt badly for him because that’s a whole lot of insecure.
Let’s just say that we were not meant to be.
Clothes Don’t Make a Person
Once when I was a first-year college student I visited my boyfriend’s family in Manhatten for New Year’s. His mom immediately tried to buy me new clothes. She was terrified that I wouldn’t fit in. I didn’t. I was an absolute bumpkin from New Hampshire who wore pastels from K-Mart in a world of black designer clothes. We went to one of my boyfriend’s fancy friend’s house for a New Year’s Eve party and her dad, a famous food critic and writer, looked at me in my pink cashmere sweater and said, “Oh, honey. Where are you even from?”
I stared into the sea of black cocktail dresses and sports jackets and said, “New Hampshire?”
He nodded. “Makes sense.”
I went in there, everyone gawped at me. I smiled and eventually everyone was too drunk to notice that I was pastel in a sea of mourning. It was a good time.
Random Movie Quote
In the movie American Gangster Denzel Washington’s character says to his really well-dressed kid brother,
“That. What you got on. That’s a very, very, very nice suit? That’s a clown suit. That’s a costume. With a big sign on it that says, ‘Arrest Me.’ You understand? You’re too loud. You’re making too much noise. Look at me: The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”American Gangster
That’s true about standing out to cops, but it’s also true about confidence.
Anecdote About My Hobbit Dad
My sweet little hobbit dad was a truck driver and spent his whole life thinking he was dumb because he didn’t get past second grade. Dyslexic, he was the smartest man I knew. With his pants falling off his bum, and his low-key attitude, would talk to presidential nominees, poets, scientists, servers, cabbies, the greeter at Wal-Mart. He talked to everyone and anyone, asking them insightful, poignant questions that went right to the heart of who they were.
Despite his insecurities, he was confident in who he was – that essential part of his nature and soul – and he gave off the vibe of being authentic and real and confident because he didn’t know how to be anything else. He approached everyone as if they were a potential friend, but more than that . . . he approached everyone like they were a quality human being.
To be confident you have to do a few things and practice doing them:
- Embrace your anxieties, your perceived flaws. Know that everyone else you see has them too.
- Practice being confident. How do you do that? Practice being okay with who you are.
- Embrace the fool in you and abolish the perfectionist. Practice this, too. Do things that you’re afraid to do.
- Approach the world with an outlook of potential instead of paranoia.
All of that boils down to one tip:
Be real. Be who you really are.
I hope you’ll go on this fool’s journey with me, being more fully okay with who you are, showing the world your spirit and personality, perceived flaws and all.
I just released a book on Amazon and it’s an adult mystery and I’m in love with it. You should read it. It’s an adventure.
Gabby The Dog, Wisdom for Monday
Hundreds of beings can smell one rose bush.
The roses keep on creating scent. Love is like that. So is contentment.
Sharing your joy & kindness never lessens it. And you deserve to share in its smells. Smells are good. Dogs know.Gabby the Dog
Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow!
WHERE TO FIND US
THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.
But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor.
As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.
You can order it here.
IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!
My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.