A shallow cliché some would say, however it has been my key to success with testing anxiety, interviews, and public speaking.
No matter how much I study, practice, or prepare when it comes to taking tests, having an interview, or public speaking my nerves and anxiety skyrocket. Whether I was sitting taking a test alongside 40 other students, standing and speaking in front of an entire room of people, or one on one answering questions of a future employer- I would psych myself out. However, there was a congruency I faced with not only the anxiety of the task I was completing but also social anxiety. I would find myself pondering a slew of thoughts such as; are people looking at me? Do I look okay? Do I look fat in this?
The way I lessened my social anxiety and increased my success on tests, public speaking, and interviews began with myself. I needed to feel confident, and for me that meant feeling confident in my physical appearance. Whether I choose to wear a new shirt or throw on my favorite pair of jeans, and having my hair blown out and make up on I instantly feel more confident. Everyone feels confident in their own ways but, for me it’s feeling physically beautiful all around. Now maybe this is an example of the “placebo effect” but, I always performed better when I felt confident in how I looked. I believe my physical confidence is linked to my attitude, focus, and positivity. Thus, allowing myself to focus more on the task I am preforming and less on the environment around me.
Perhaps that can be considered a narcissistic trait of mine, but in today’s world with the expectations placed upon womens bodies and external appearance, I have unfortunately seen how the more physically appealing a woman is, the more she is heard. I say heard rather than respected because even, “physically appealing” women are disrespected. Women are disrespected for their looks in general. A “physically appealing” woman is often sexualized and assumed less qualified in her task, but a “less physically appealing” woman is desexualized and critiqued. Either way a woman’s looks has a significant impact on her performance.
Although feeling physically confident in myself reaps the benefit of completing my test, interview, and or presentation another set of questions follows; do I look dumb? Do they think I am unintelligent in what I am saying?
Therefore, my most important piece of advice is this; dress for success and stay inside your head. We will never know what anyone is thinking but as long as you feel confident in your knowledge and appearance, everyone else’s thoughts and opinions are irrelevant. Stand in front of that room and speak your knowledge and call out those who scuff and try to discount your credit. We all possess our own form of confidence that we must exhibit, because we ourselves as women are talented. We are more talented than what we look like, more than what others think of us like, and more than what we think of ourselves as.