don't mistake caution

 

 

Despite combining multi-tasking with a lead foot, I’d backed out of my narrow garage countless times without mishap. Then came the morning of a mistake in judgment and a big car repair bill. Ugh.

Spending money on unnecessary repair bills cut into my shoe budget, so, after that, I backed out slowly and carefully, acutely aware of distance and speed. Repair bills and a ton of inconvenience were a mistake I didn’t want to repeat.

“Oh, that’s so sad,” said a gal pal to whom I recounted my morning challenge. “I hope you get your confidence back real soon.”

Get my confidence back? I hadn’t thought of my situation that way.

But now, the thought of a lack of confidence in my abilities was in my head every morning as I backed my car out. I wondered when my confidence would return. What a crummy thought to have so early in the day.

Low confidence. That was a malady I thought I’d escaped. Hair that frizzed in humidity, a weakness for chocolate that showed in a flabby belly, and a closet overflowing with shoes were issues I knew I had. Lack of confidence not so much.

My inner critic disagreed. It chirped that all women lack confidence.

Goodness, said my inner critic. Look at all the books and articles out there. Women having low confidence is an epidemic. Of course, you suffer from it. You’re not zipping out the garage like you used to, are you?

No, I wasn’t.

Confidence is a golden blend of self-esteem and self-efficacy. Were mine missing? Time to reflect and see if my inner critic was right.

As for self-esteem, I could check off all the boxes. I knew I was competent. I believed I deserved to be happy. I felt like I was useful and delivered value. All self-esteem systems were a go.

Maybe my self-efficacy was what was out of whack.

Self-efficacy is the judgment we make about our ability to master new skills, produce results, and succeed in specific situations. I’ve failed a gazillion times. Some days I even muck something up before leaving the house. But dusting myself off and trying again had never been a problem. One boss had even given me the nickname “Jane never-say-die Perdue.”

OK, self-esteem and self-efficacy were fine. So, what was going on?

While low self-confidence may be a common issue with some women, suffering from it didn’t square with my experience. (Stubbornness is another personal malady.)

Business women routinely make decisions, manage budgets, run households, and serve their communities. That stuff doesn’t happen in an absence of confidence; it only happens when someone has faith in their abilities. (Granted, they might occasionally doubt themselves a little, but humility is a good thing.)

Hmm. Is low confidence really just part of being a woman?

Could that supposed lack be a social meme, a cultural idea, that people believe because it’s plastered everywhere? Google “women and low confidence,” and there’s 274,000,000 results.

Could women’s alleged low confidence be a convenient social explanation for inequality? A cover for gender bias?

 

Don’t make my mistake

 

As I considered my situation more, I concluded low self-confidence wasn’t the problem. I’d let my pal put a thought in my head, and then I ran with it. My confidence was fine.

So, what was my deal? Cautiousness. I was being watchful and prudent. That’s all. Prior to the big repair bill, I’d operated on autopilot—car in reverse and go, with a thousand nondriving thoughts pinballing in my mind.

Fascinating how I’d allowed myself to get sucked into an unproductive line of thought by the power of suggestion from my pal and the ubiquity of the belief that women lack confidence. I won’t make the mistake of automatically buying that line of thinking any more. Being cautious is totally different than lacking confidence.

What do you think?

Image credit before quote added: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

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