How to Fake It Til You Make It

It seems to be the time of year that a never-ending source of confidence would be really useful. The responses to applications are rolling in, grad schemes are every 2 meters, university society AGMs are electing their future committees… whatever stage you’re at, everyone is facing their own challenges!

Rightly or wrongly, to be successful in most of these scenarios, you need to project a sense of confidence, self-assurance and calm. However, very few of us feel like that all the time, especially under pressure.

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Where do you even begin?

There are 3 key steps that I take every time I approach a new challenge.

1. Challenge Your Mindset

Understand that everyone is nervous. Really. No matter how confident someone else might seem, trust me, they will have their own areas of weakness that they worry about. For me, whilst I’m very confident in group work and public speaking, I often worry if I’ll be at a disadvantage coming from a non-Econ/Maths/Management background (especially not having studied Maths since GCSE!). High achievers in particular have been shown to be subject to impostor syndrome, which is a tendency to assume that even though you’ve achieved some great things, you’re just a “fraud” who is waiting to be “found out”. In reality, most people feel this way, so it’s important not to compare yourself to what you perceive others to be.

Change how you view nerves. I watched a video a few years ago that completely changed my attitude towards stress and nerves. You can check it out here!

Remind yourself of your other achievements. You’ve overcome a lot of challenges in your life to date! Remembering what you’ve faced and the lessons you’ve learned is a great way to put things into perspective and stop this event feeling like the be-all, end-all.

2. Prepare for the Occasion

Wear an outfit that you feel comfortable and happy in. Your clothes should be the least of your concerns and certainly should not impact any outcomes on the day. You should dress appropriately for the occasion, but also make sure you wear something that you’re comfortable in and makes you feel put-together. The last thing you want to worry about is constantly readjusting your top, having a belt dig into your sides or walking in painful shoes – this distracts from the main purpose of your day!

Do your research. Knowing that you understand the requirements of the situation and are knowledgeable about its topic is great reassurance for last minute nerves.

Come fully equipped. Make a checklist. Seriously. I’ve learned this lesson due to the sheer amount of times that I’ve totally forgotten that I actually need glasses to read at distance and have spent my day squinting at a board playing “what word could that blurry squiggle be?”. The night before, pack your bag with all the essentials you’ll need.

3. Shine On The Day

Have a mantra or lucky habit. Some people will wear a certain perfume or have a morning routine. Personally, I like to have a mini-pep talk with myself with a couple of key affirmations before any big moment.

Smile! The ultimate social magic. Even if you’re not feeling confident, a smile encourages positive social interactions. Take a minute before you enter a new situation to breathe, stand up straight and put a smile on your face. No matter how you feel inside, we are fundamentally social creatures and your physical presence is a vital part of this.

Be kind to yourself. Whatever it is, give it your best shot, then move on with your day. You’ve done the best that you could, and that’s all anyone could ask of you!

So, those are a couple of ideas to get you started. Why not put them into practice the next time you need an extra boost?

As for you, what are your favourite tips for making yourself feel more confident?


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