I haven’t always been the most confident person and as a child was desperately shy, especially at school where I was often picked on for being the quiet one standing in the corner of the playground afraid to join in with the others. It was also a major crisis for me in the classroom when asked to stand up and speak during English and French lessons which often ending up in recitals of garbled gobbledygook, giving the rest of the class a good laugh and making me a prime target for a group of girls who constantly bullied me.
My only defensive mechanism in those days was to escape into a world of endless daydreams which provided me with the ability to detach myself from my immediate surroundings and disappear into a La La Land of romantic heroes' and happy forever endings. My school reports were always pretty predictable... "Jennifer won't achieve anything in life unless she stops her silly daydreaming." Ultimately for me though it was a matter of surviving school, if only with a limited number of qualifications.
Throughout my adult life my self-confidence has grown in dribs and drabs, but it was only a few years ago when my life took an emotional tumble after a failed relationship that I finally found my inner self by taking a risk and stepping out of my comfort zone, learning new skills and stretching myself beyond my previous capabilities.
This new found confidence led me to writing my first novel, ‘Jennifer Brown’s Journey’ which is largely based on my own personal experiences, a great way of expressing my inner thoughts. I’ve always wanted to write a book that above all would make people laugh, but for balance I also wanted to include some poignant situations and real life drama that people could relate to.
My initial attempts at writing a book only served to highlight the wasted periods of my education but I persevered, determined to improve and ready to learn from my earlier mistakes. It was during that period that I began to realise what was really holding me back. It wasn't my lack of education but that my quiet, subdued personality had led me to becoming a submissive person, always eager to help, to please, but laying me open to being dominated by an ex partner to the extent that my self-worth had dived close to zero.
What I needed was to be surrounded by people who would encourage and help me along the path I wanted to go as a writer. Several years after my previous relationship collapsed I was fortunate to find a kindred spirit, someone who really loved me and offered me the encouragement and support that had been so lacking in the past.
Then, like a spring flower emerging from the depths of a harsh winter I started to blossom, confidence and my dormant creativity was starting to grow. My first book was an affirmation of my new, confident self and its success has led to the current creation of a sequel, the second in a trilogy planned for the future. The act of writing, recording my life's experience, has also acted as a form of catharsis, allowing me the clarity of vision to look beyond the past into a much brighter future.
So confidence needs to be nurtured and encouraged by those around you. They need to understand your difficulties and genuinely want to help you along the road to a more positive and assertive way of life. Negativity and discouragement from others only serves to trample on the delicate flowering of the self-confidence we are all capable of achieving in life.