Straddling the fence between confident and bossy is really tough as a young woman. Where does confidence come from? Why is confident good but bossy bad? Guys can be called cocky, but that has nowhere near the detrimental effect that bossy has on girls. We live in a time when women are told to be confident and independent, when many guys want girls who are confident, so why is there a limit to how confident we can be?
I have been called cocky, arrogant, stuck-up, a know-it-all, and so many other descriptors with more negative connotations than positive ones. And usually when these adjectives are thrown my way, I’m feeling really good about myself. I feel like I know what I’m doing, like things are going well, and that I’m doing and giving my best. And when I hear these things, I tend to crash and burn, because that self-esteem I had built up deflates. Suddenly, I wonder what I’m doing, if I’m good enough, why I was put into positions and given responsibilities people thought I couldn’t handle– or why I put myself there because suddenly, I know I can’t handle it, and I should have seen it in the first place.
The twisted part is that once I’m paralyzed, unable to do anything because I don’t know if I’m capable, people suddenly start asking what happened to the confident young woman they used to know. Often times, it’s some of the same people who told me I was too confident. What’s a girl supposed to do?
I’ve read, seen, and heard many theories and practices to build confidence. Fake it till you make it; power poses; exercise; replacing the old with the new as in wardrobe, workspace, or even people. I’ve tried many of them. I have two go-to techniques. First, I dress to kill. There’s something about dressing to the nines that makes you feel like a bad-ass who could take on the world. Even just throwing on a little make-up and a nicer-than-normal outfit in the morning makes me feel great about myself. The second is as egotistical and shallow as it comes, but it works for me. I pick a song about a desirable girl and imagine that song is about me. Usually it’s upbeat and easy to strut to. Think “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, “Downtown Girl” by Hot Chelle Rae, “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder, and so on. Sorry, ladies and gents, One Direction and Bruno Mars are singing about me. See? As shallow and egotistical as it gets, but it works. Until someone tells me I’m overly confident. That I’m not as good as I think I am. I’m not as sexy, as smart, as talented, as knowledgable, as suited for a role as I think I am. And it usually isn’t framed as constructive criticism when a comment bursts my bubble. It’s straight up derrogative.
Think about a time when someone called you out on a mistake, poor behavior, bad judgement, or really anything. It might have had an impact on you when they called you a dumbass or incompitent or ugly or add negative descriptor here. But unless it was a common plan of action with a really close friend, you probably didn’t respond too well. Either you got defensive and or you just shut down. Defensive can lead to change, but often times it just mean stubbornly pursuing the same course of action to spite the offender. Shutting down isn’t pretty ever. Do you really want to inflict that feeling, that situation, on another human being?
There are ways to tell someone they’re overstepping their bounds if that actually is the case. There’s no reason to fling profanities like bossy at anyone. Because seriously, who wants to be called a sexist pig in return?