Confidence and Change: The Ultimate Frenemies?

stressed woman

Confidence and Change: The Ultimate Frenemies?

By Dr. Robyn Silverman

Confidence and change are often like oil and water. We are creatures of habit and we hate to upset the apple cart if we can help it. But given that change happens all the time and the powerful word of the month this month is confidence, I figured it was time to lay it on the table even if we all would rather ignore it all together.

As a new Mommy of our daughter, Tallie, I have had as much change as anyone can have at any one time. My previous “normality” at is related to sleeping, eating, and getting out the door has all gone out the window. And yet, I must maintain a sense of confidence in myself and my ability to get through it. For my sake. For my husband’s sake. For my daughter’s sake. It just has to happen.

It’s funny. A recent study came out that actually said young mothers (58%) are twice as confident in their own innate abilities to parent as older moms (27%) and fathers said they were even more confident than mothers.  Perhaps it’s a generational thing.  Perhaps it’s a gender thing.  Perhaps younger moms and fathers are just slightly delusional.  Regardless, at least half of moms and dads admit to feeling under-confident at times. No doubt change contributes to the doubt that enters are minds.

We all have changes throughout our lives. Our children go through it anytime we move, they change schools, or move up a grade. They deal with it when they move up a level in their activities. And don’t forget, they must cope with one of their biggest changes as they go through puberty. That last one often leaves us googling for the proverbial instruction book on kids…or wishing, at least, that it existed somewhere in cyberspace.

Change leads to questions. Questions rock our confidence boat. So what are we supposed to do to get over the hump?

(1) This too shall pass: My Mom would always say this to me when I was going through the “storm and stress” of childhood and adolescence. Perhaps she was saying it to reassure me. Perhaps she was saying it to reassure herself. Nonetheless it was and still is true. People do dumb things. People say dumb things. We might even make a mistake or two along the way. Change might make us feel like we’re walking on rocks but eventually the change becomes the norm and the norm becomes…comfortable.

(2) Enjoy it while it’s here: Yup. I’m not sleeping much. My daughter likes to lay all over me and wants to be picked up while I’m making dinner or just when I’m about to take a shower. I sometimes feel like I need a day off and I just started. But I know I’ll look back on these days and wish I didn’t shrug them off so quickly. So, I choose to enjoy this time. It might be hard but there is always a silver lining. Find it. Be grateful for it. Laugh. Believe me, it takes the sting out of getting up at 2am or feeling like you’re getting pulled in 20 different parental directions.

(3) Take a brain vacation: For you, that might mean getting a babysitter every once in a while to get a hold of your stress level. For your children it might mean going to a movie with her Dad to get her mind off her best friend being “mad at her” for the 20th time this week. Change happens but that doesn’t always mean we have to be in the thick of it. As they used to say, “take a chill pill” and everything will look better in the morning…or at least after watching “Dancing with the Stars.”

(4) Talk about it: Sharing experiences with like minded people can certainly help. Talk to other parents who are dealing with similar issues. Have your children talk to their older cousins or big brother or sister about their frustrations– or even their cool Auntie who always seems to have something brilliant to say. When we clam up, we feel alone. We feel as though nobody understands us. It’s simply not true. As tough as your situation might seem, someone else has gotten through it and knows the grass really is greener on the other side.

(5) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: Remember it. You might be tired. You might be frustrated. You might even be mad or depressed. But on the other side of all this change is a more knowledgeable, more experienced person who is stronger and better than before. Remember that last change you went through? You came out OK. Better, even. And don’t forget– without these changes and these experiences we would be born out of our skull. Nobody wants that.

So, are change and confidence really frenemies? Perhaps at times. Otherwise, they work symbiotically so that we become the evolved, exciting, energized and yes, sometimes exhausted people we are today and will be in the future. So here’s to change!

Please share your stories of confidence and change here in the comment section.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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3 Responses

  1. My first semester at Vassar, I was freaking out over a huge Spanish project that involved a twenty-minute presentation and a paper. A sophomore took pity on me and told me, “Don’t think about it too much. You will finish everything on time. It’s not like you’re not going to hand everything in.” This little truth has kept me going through many an intimidating project. It’s all about self-confidence and the understanding that, yes, this too shall pass.

  2. robyn, i’m so glad wordpress randomly linked an old post of mine to this one of yours. even better that the blog stats told me about it, & led me here to read your work (i have a young daughter too, &, am currently working on my thesis entitled ‘A Poetics of Failure’) . the icing on the cake: slipping the word ‘frenemy’ into a conversation today…

  3. Thank you for your great comments!

    Ms Briggs- your comment is very telling of your maturity even in college. It will serve you well. Confidence can we hard to come by when you are comparing yourself to the cream of the crop at such a prestigious school!

    Thanks for visiting “typing space.” WOuld love to hear how that conversation worked out!

    Dr. Robyn

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