I was reading a study the other day about the difference between men and women's confidence levels. The study showed that men tend to believe they are more confident than women and it got me to question why this might be.
The study showed that men are better able to fake confidence in any subject, even if they know nothing about it, whereas women will habitually question and doubt themselves. Even if they are an expert in a particular field, they will often allow self-doubt to creep into their thoughts.
There are many theories on why men have such grandiose and often misperceived airs of power and confidence, but they mainly come down to early conditioning resulting in a self-inflated ego.
As children, we are conditioned initially by our parents, which is quickly followed by societal rules as to how we perceive ourselves in the world. These 'rules' are handed down to us from generation to generation and even in the 21st century, we still have 'rules' for girls and 'rules' for boys, from what games they play to how they should behave. Consequently, boys are fed the story that they are tough, strong and powerful. Girls tend to be fed the story that they are good, sweet and caring. So when we become adults, we are already subconsciously conditioned to follow these rules and behave accordingly.
If you were lucky enough to have parents who treated you and your male siblings exactly the same way, or the society you lived in didn't differentiate between the genders, you will have grown up feeling that you were as powerful as any other human being, regardless of your gender. Unfortunately this isn't how most women grew up. Most women were conditioned to believe that being loud was unladylike, or that standing up for yourself meant you were being difficult. Asking questions was equal to being annoying and demanding answers to those questions was considered to be trouble making.
Is it any wonder that men and women's confidence levels are miles apart?
If as a boy you're constantly told that you are strong, tough and powerful, of course you're going to believe this and your ego is going to believe that you have more confidence and power than a woman, even if it's not true. Thus this is the image you will project and will get away with in all areas of life. If as a girl you're constantly told that you're good, sweet and caring, this is what your ego is going to believe and as a consequence, you will struggle to maintain a level of confidence and power in all areas of your life, because it goes against everything you've been taught to be.
As women we're conditioned to be soft, loving, empathic, kind, caring and forgiving. All wonderfully positive traits to have, but I wish more girls were taught to also be loud, confident, tough, angry, powerful and assertive without being deemed as unladylike, brash or difficult.
Thankfully, as a woman, the older you get, the less you care about what other people think and you become more comfortable in your own skin and in your ability to voice your opinions confidently. It is these skills that you need to pass on to younger females if they are going to reclaim their power and feel confident in themselves. It is these skills that you need to pass on to your daughters, nieces and their friends, so that when they stand up for themselves, when they call out something that they feel is wrong, when they demand answers, they can do so with the same levels of confidence that their male counterparts have been taught to naturally have.
Encourage other women that their voice is as important as any other persons. That they can have equal levels of confidence as their male counterparts. That they are entitled to ask questions, make noise and that just because they're a women, it doesn't mean that they have to be just good, sweet and caring - they can also be tough, strong and powerful. And this applies to you too!
Be Unashamedly Crazy!
Have you ever been called crazy? Even if it’s in jest, there’s something slightly demeaning being a woman and being called crazy. It’s saying you’re not normal, or other ‘normal people’ disapprove of you. It’s one of those passive aggressive sayings that people come out with when they feel threatened by you. You’re not quite playing the game they would like, or they wouldn’t have the balls to do what you do.
I’m here to tell you to embrace your crazy and take it as a compliment because it means that you have stepped out of the box. You have found your own identity and have the courage to say, f*** you and live your life as you want to live it.
It’s interesting how many women are called crazy by men when they begin to take a stand in their relationships – ‘crazy ex’, ‘crazy wife’, ‘crazy boss’. It’s not only insulting, but it’s also unimaginative and again it all comes down to other people not feeling comfortable with how you have changed. They feel challenged or threatened and the only way they can handle it is to tell other people you’re crazy.
‘You’re crazy to start a business in a recession!’
‘You’re crazy to leave your job with no other job to go to!’
‘You’re crazy to think anyone else would want you!’
‘You’re crazy to want a divorce in your fifties!’
‘You’re crazy to travel alone!’
‘Your crazy to want to bring up a child on your own!’
‘You’re crazy to drop out of uni!’
And so on -Yawn.
It’s not only an unimaginative reaction, it’s also a bloody boring one! The people who tell you that you’re crazy are the ones who are more comfortable staying in the same job, village, lifestyle for the rest of their life. They are sticklers for the rules and follow the tried and tested route their ancestors have followed for eternity – because it’s safe and secure. Anything slightly out of the box is way too scary and, well, something only a crazy person would do.
I’ve been called crazy many times in my life. I was told I was crazy by the education system, parents, family, and neighbours, to believe that I, girl-with-a-handful-of-GCSEs, could possibly home-school my three children. But I have never let others’ opinions detract me from doing what I want to do.
When I started my property business I was constantly told I was crazy, particularly because I was a woman and wanted to be involved in the whole process from building a property to managing my portfolio. Everyone from solicitors, friends and tradesmen all told me I was crazy to invest my money in property.
History is saturated with successful women who have been called crazy – commander of the French army, Joan of Arc was tagged with every psychotic disorder known to man. Her ‘craziness’ has been documented for everything from wearing men’s clothing to practicing witchcraft. Despite all this, JAC was a fearless warrior who negotiated the war between France and England.
Move to modern times and whilst they no longer burn ‘crazy women’ at the stake, many high-profile females have had the #crazy added to their names – Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Jane Fonda, Joan Rivers, Miley Cyrus, Kirsty Alley, to name a few. What do these women all have in common other than being called crazy? They are all hugely successful, independent women who have had the audacity to unapologetically be themselves - oh and they have earned millions from their talents. If a male celebrity is called crazy, it’s said in admiration, rather than belittlement. In fact men are rarely called crazy. They are considered eccentric, unconventional and geniuses, not crazy.
Crazy women are fabulous women. They get things done. They take risks others wouldn’t dare to take and they embrace their craziness. Crazy women are the ones who will work hard to get what they want. They will dress however they want to dress. They are the ones to ask questions and say, ‘why can’t I do this?’ and demand answers. Crazy women are the ones who defy expectations and flout the rules – they also make people feel very uncomfortable because they break the rules of the norm.
In order to live your happy ever after, I’m here to encourage you to embrace your crazy and be unashamed about it because when you do, those people who decided you’re crazy will be the ones looking on from the side-lines, still doing what they have always done but secretly wishing they had been crazy enough to take the chances you did.