What is the key to success? This is a difficult question and I believe that it varies from person to person. What works for one person, may not work for another. For me, my strength has always been my confidence. Or, actually, the illusion of confidence.
What I mean with this is that I am not always confident. I am very often shitting myself on the inside. Like, proper shitting myself. But I choose to portray an exterior of confidence. “Let them believe that I know what I am doing, and then I can try to figure it out later.”
I remember when I was young, really young, this was back in the 90’s. My mum used to make me order at McDonalds. “You want an ice cream? Then you have to go and order one.” While this is a pretty basic thing, I remember shitting myself on the inside. What if I said the wrong thing to the person behind the counter? What if he/she did not understand my order? Or what if they laughed at me? But I also remember thinking that I really wanted that ice cream. So I had to suck it up and go to the counter and order. And can you believe it, I was always fine.
I think this really set the way for me for the rest of my life. If you want something, you cannot let fear get in the way. The fear of being laughed at. The fear of being rejected. The fear of getting a “No” or a “You do not fit the profile”.
I remember when I was going to the Swedish School in London when I was 13 and I was asked to be in the Spring Show and sing solo…in French! My French was basic and my singing the same. But I loved being on stage and I did not want to turn down the opportunity – especially when someone else believed in me. They had asked me to sing this particular song, they had not asked my classmates. So I did it…and it was fine and people applauded me and I had a great time (although I cringe every time I watch it now). Further to this, I did many more spring shows and many more solo performances – although, not in French!
Another time is when I was doing my work experience at my current job when I was 20 and had just started my second year of law school. Two days into the experience, they asked me if I wanted a job there. I was baffled…I did not think my contribution during those two days had been significant or even good – I had completely and utterly fucked up several times, yet they asked me if I wanted a job? Once again, I was shitting myself. I did not know anything about family law, nor did I know anything about working in a law firm. Would I be able to live up to their expectations? Would I embarrass myself? But I accepted the offer thinking: “Ok they have clearly seen something in me that they like. They have confidence in me, so why should I not have confidence in myself?” 3 years later, I am still at the same firm.
Similarly to this, as you all know, I was offered a modelling contract shortly after I got the law firm job. I was approached by an agency saying they wanted to sign me right away. Once again, I was confused. I did not look like a model, I did not have the height or the body. Would I even get any work? What if I could not even model? What if I was shit at posing? Suddenly everything Tyra had taught me during all those nights in watching ANTM were completely forgotten. Yet, I did not hesitate, and I signed the contract straight away. Now, looking back on all the work I have done, for various make up brans, skin beauty campaigns, and having my face in magazines, I am happy I said yes.
I think what I am trying to say is that even though you may doubt yourself and your ability to do a certain task or do a certain job, if you want to do it, especially when someone is offering you, then just do it. I have always thought that even if I do not know something, I can learn. If someone asks me to do X or prepare Y, and I have no clue what either X or Y means, then I always start off by saying “Sure!” and after I try to figure out what it is. Usually, the internet can tell you, or a book, or a co-worker. By not hesitating in your response, you create an illusion that you are confident, and I believe confidence is one of the major keys to success (DJ Khaled voice).
It is in this way I live my life. And it means I never miss out on any opportunity that comes my way, because I always say “Yes”. It may not last long, I may fuck up, or I may realise that actually, this was not for me. But then at least I have tried it. And I will not have any regrets as I did not let fear rule how I made my decisions or how I lived my life.