Well friends, I am happy to be back with the second post in my Becoming Confidence Series after an unexpected break! In short, the month of May pretty much kicked my butt. I traveled back to back to back for work and for family events (my younger brother got married!) and my writing routine must have jumped out the plane window when I wasn't looking.
I have to admit to you that I wasn't the easiest on myself during this break of not writing and posting. I knew I had things to share and a schedule to follow but because I didn't want posts to feel rushed in between my trips to and from airports, I didn't even try. Instead I played the "should" game - are any of you familiar? It's when you let fear, doubt, and guilt take over and, like my mom used to say, you "should" all over yourself! In my head I had rattling around that I should have drafted these posts in anticipation, that I should have not added an extra trip for work, and that I should just quit this little blog because I clearly can't be consistent.
But last week I was watching a live session with Lara Casey on Facebook during my lunch break and she said the simplest thing - don't let the guilt win, let the grace win. And I got chills! Those words spoke exactly to how I had been feeling about this posting absence. I decided that she was right. I am going to let go of the guilt and embrace the grace!
So you're probably asking yourself, how on Earth does this connect to confidence and our communities? Well, in my opinion, our communities are made up of the people who we look to for grace most often. They encourage us, provide us with gentle reality checks, and offer a perspective different than our own. They give us space to "fail forward" and to share differences with one another. In all of these ways our relationships and communities help us to grow as individuals and build our confidence!
In my community, there are four things I've realized are in place that have helped my confidence to grow as I've entered my thirties. I'm happy to share these things below!
1. Gentle reality checks.
Sometimes I can get so wrapped up in a situation that I lose sight of what is around me. My good friends have this way of unwrapping me by providing a gentle reality check. Through these reality checks they help me to remember that I'm not the only person who exists and I begin to think about the other side of the situation. Gentle reality checks give me the confidence to acknowledge when I need to think about others before I think about myself.
2. Space to "fail forward".
Failing forward is a concept I first learned about in graduate school. It means that even when you fail, you should do so while learning something from the situation. In my most influential relationships, grace is extended when I fail in a way that helps me learn how to change for the better. By existing in the space to "fail forward" I land on my feet and am able to keep moving.
3. Encouragement instead of competition.
There is an aphorism that says, "a rising tide lifts all boats," and in my community this speaks directly to a commitment to encouragement instead of competition. I've mentioned a couple of times my friendship with Mattye of The LovingKind. I remember when I shared with her my very early thoughts for You Me Serendipity, she had been blogging for almost a year. The amount of encouragement and enthusiasm that came from sharing this little idea with her was enormous! Even though we have had similar experiences and might share some personal goals, we build each other's confidence by encouraging one another to succeed through our chosen spaces instead of competing with one another.
4. A different perspective.
One of the benefits of having my community spread out beyond where I am means the perspectives each member possesses will be influenced by virtue of where they are. Similarly, members of my community have varying religious and political beliefs and values. When I consider my community, some of the most influential relationships are with those who believe in things differently than I do. By remaining open to those different perspectives, I'm able to see things in ways I don't always immediately choose to. This helps me to see things I don't normally notice about myself and increases my self confidence.
In my very first post I shared with you my struggles with perfection, and the month of May brought those struggles screaming back to the surface. So as we move into the summer months I'm planning to let go of the guilt that chasing after objective perfection brings and rely on my community for grace through subjective perfection.
I'd love to know - in what ways does your community help you build your confidence? Share your experiences in the comments!