Sunday, October 25, 2015

Self-care Sunday: confidence


To me, there's nothing better than someone who has been a part of a commonly oppressed group - people of color, the disabled, women, etc - who have found out how to be amazingly and perfectly themselves. One of the people I love the most in this regard is Mindy Kaling of Office fame.

Earlier this year, she came out with a book entitled 'Why not me?' Glamour, not usually my type of reading, put up some excerpts of her book here, and I'd like to share them with you.

Why?

I'm asked a lot how I'm so confident. Some people mistake it for cockiness. The truth is I'm not... mostly. I'm really good at acting. As a girl who grew up in an abused home, I had to be for my own safety and survival. Inside, my anxiety runs rampant about all the things I've done or not done. My practice of self-love and self-care has certainly helped with that as well, but I'm still often very unsure of what I'm doing or why I'm doing it.

Without further ado, here are some excerpts from 'Why not me?'

So here it is: Mindy Kaling's No Fail, Always Works, Secret Guide to Confidence. This is why you spent your entire vacation reading this book instead of talking to your family.
Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it's used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn't so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you'd better make sure you deserve it. So, how did I make sure that I deserved it?
To answer that, I would like to quote from the Twitter bio of one of my favorite people, Kevin Hart. It reads: 
My name is Kevin Hart and I WORK HARD!!! That pretty much sums me up!!! Everybody Wants To Be Famous But Nobody Wants To Do The Work!
Hard work is such a weird thing. As children and teenagers you are told it's a really good thing, but for adults it suddenly becomes the worst thing in the world. 
We do a thing in America, which is to label people "workaholics" and tell them that work is ruining their lives. It's such a widespread opinion that it seems like the premise to every indie movie is "Workaholic mom comes home to find that her entire family hates her. It's not until she cuts back on work, smokes a little pot, and takes up ballroom dancing classes with her neglected husband that she realizes what is truly important in life. Not work." Working parents have now eclipsed shady Russian-esque operatives as America's most popular choice of movie villain. And to some degree, I understand why the trope exists. It probably resonates because most people in this country hate their jobs. The economies of entire countries like Turks and Caicos are banking on US citizens hating their jobs and wanting to get away from it all. And I understand that. But it's a confusing message for kids. 
The reason I'm bringing this up is not to defend my status as someone who always works. (I swear I'm not that Tiger Mom lady! I don't think you need to play piano for eleven hours with no meals! Or only watch historical movies, then write reports on them for me to read and grade!) It's just that, the truth is, I have never, ever, ever met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a "workaholic." We can't have it both ways, and children should know that. 
Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it. 
So that's what I think whenever I read something like: "How'd this chick get a job? I guess they're just giving away shows to every overweight minority woman who wants one now? Hahaha." So even though that hurts my feelings, I'm smart enough to realize, Oh, this poor dummy doesn't understand the way Hollywood works. Then I think of ways that I would beat him to death with my SAG Award. 
Which is why you need the tiniest bit of bravery. People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you're succeeding. People do not get scared when you're failing. It calms them. That's why the show Intervention is a hit and everyone loves "worrying about" Amanda Bynes. But when you're winning, it makes them feel like they're losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should've tried to do something too, but now it's too late. And since they didn't, they want to stop you. You can't let them.
The good news is that, as a country, we are all about telling girls to be confident. It's our new national pastime. Every day I see Twitter posts, Instagram campaigns, and hashtags that say things like "We Will!" or "Girls Can!" or "Me Must, I Too!" on them. I think widespread, online displays of female self-confidence are good for people, especially men, to see. I just sometimes get the sneaking suspicion that corporations are co-opting "girl confidence" language to rally girls into buying body wash. Be careful.
Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn't always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine. Now, excuse me, I need to lie down and watch Sheldon. 


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