• Jenn


Confidence is a funny, fickle trait.

People often perceive me as being confident.

I am.

And I'm not.

It depends on the day - and the situation.

My guess is that's normal for many people, especially women.

I believe that I was born with a bit of confidence - and then my parents did a great job of helping that along, by making me learn that I can do hard things.

Being confident has made many things easier for me, especially in junior high and high school. I had no problem saying "no" to things I didn't want to do. I made friends easily and could be my true self with them.

But now that I am older and people have more established, comfortable friend groups, it's harder. I think that confidence now inhibits me from making friends. Maybe people don't want a new person throwing off the balance of power or adding a different dynamic to their group.

So now, confidence is a blessing and a curse. Displaying confidence comes with its rewards (respect, leadership positions) but also its punishments (judgement from others, taking on too much in work and life).

I also believe that women are judged more harshly for being confident. This (of course) is not an original idea. But what is potentially original is that I don't think people - even smart, open men AND women - know that they are unwittingly judging that confidence. I see it, feel it, every day in almost every situation. Is there an unintentional bias against confident women, socially and professionally?

What is it about a confident person that bothers people (note that I’m thinking about confidence, not about being a blowhard - I know what would bother people about that - haha). I'm sure there's been research done as to why: perhaps because people don't know many confident women (which is painful to consider)? Or confidence feels threatening to those who are less confident? Or maybe it brings out some primal instinct that pushes people to want to “win” over the confident person? Or maybe it’s cultural residue from the patriarchy trying to keep women in their place?

I think about this not just for myself - but also for my daughter. I wonder how to teach her confidence and humility and situational assimilation, all at the same time. So for now, I just do what my parents did: push her to believe in herself, to do hard things. My hope is this will provide more positive experiences for her in the long run.

How do you think about confidence among your friend group - or your coworkers? Do you think there is an unintentional bias against confident women, socially or at work?

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