5 Tips for gaining self-confidence

I think I am finally going to have a reality TV show. I have had maybe ten production companies tell me they want to do some kind of TV show with me. And all ten have backed out at various stages of making the show. So I have learned that dealing with TV people is like dealing with rich bankers who can buy any woman they want. I know it will probably be a one-night stand when they realize that I am weirder in person than on my blog.

Do you know how I know that I’m weirder in person than on my blog? Because I ask people. I ask people all the time about how they perceive me and what they expect and if I meet expectations. You might think it sounds insecure, but it doesn’t. Because most people are scared to ask so direct a question. They are scared of the answer. I have found, though, that the more I know about how other people perceive me, the more self-confident I feel about who I am. Because I know who I am.

I think self-confidence doesn’t come so much from knowing you’re great as just knowing who you are. Everyone is great for something, anyway. I mean, there are 16 personality types. Each has strengths. You can get more self-knowledge by clicking the link on the sidebar of this blog that says self-knowledge. It’s the biggest category on the blog because it’s where I put all the posts where I’m having a breakdown and telling you it’s not a breakdown but a learning moment. You can also learn about getting more self-confidence right now. Here are five things I’ve learned from years of focusing on it:.

1. Risk looking stupid in order to learn what you look like.
One reality show production company has stuck around. Now they are coming to my house to film. The Farmer, of course, hates that. He says he won’t talk to them. But I think he will. I am hoping he will think it’s really high quality TV. My TV liaison, or whatever you call this person, tells me that the show is about how I’m a fish out of water. Then I say I am not out of water but fitting in really well. Probably then she adds a laugh track.

She was interviewing me over Skype, with my kids. My son was talking about his Bionicles, and I was thinking, “Fuck. We will never get a reality show because I can’t do small talk and my son can’t stop talking in lists.” So I told him, “You can tell her about the other Bionicle, but no lists. You can’t tell her a list.”

So I am spending all this energy trying to make us look not so Aspergery that people are put off. And whoever is editing the video cuts out all the stuff like this until she has a how-to about raising kids with Aspergers.

I was going to say no to this reality show because why would I want someone else telling my story when I already tell my story here, on this blog? But it’s interesting to see my story reflected back to me. I think, actually, that’s what I like. I like to see myself reflected back to me, through someone else’s vision, so I can see who I am.

2. Control how other people see you by caring about other people.
When I was a reporter for the Boston Globe, I once interviewed Bernardo Carducci, the head of the Shyness Research Institute, and he said that most people are not clinically shy. They are just nervous about what other people think of them. That’s not shyness. That’s insecurity.

He went on to give great advice about how to make conversation by asking people about themselves. But the read advice he was giving was to get a handle on what other people think about you when they meet you. If you ask them questions and are genuinely interested in what they have to say, then they will think you are interesting.

So we are, actually, able to understand what people think of us if we are really careful about moderating how we appear to people. It’s no coincidence that high achievers are also high self-moderators. That is, people who are successful understand very well how other people perceive them and they adjust accordingly.

Rob Toomey, my favorite personality type consultant, once explained it to me this way: Every personality type has weaknesses. The key is to mitigate those as much as possible. I’m an ENTJ, and he told me I need to care about other peoples’ feelings. This is hard for me. Especially because I also have Asperger’s. So I find myself asking people directly what the expression on their face means so that I know what they think of what I just said.

3. Let other people tell your story.
I’m going to introduce you to James Maher. I love love love his street photography. So, when I was in NYC with my kids I had him trail us for a day, taking pictures, and the pictures are amazing.

You should hire him to do that for you.

James has a gift for documenting life in NYC. What I loved was seeing my family through his eyes. Because it’s not how I see us, but I like how he saw us.

And there is not really one way to see yourself. So if you let other people tell the story of you, you see yourself really differently.

It’s actually exactly the same thing I do when I rewrite someone’s resume. They can only see one way to tell the story of their career, so they think their resume doesn’t work for what they want to do. But I can see 50 stories of their career because I’m on the outside. Having James take photos of our family is like that. He widens my view of how I see us.

4. Say your story out loud all the time, to see if it sticks.
The best way to change how you see yourself is to tell new stories about how you got to where you are. Research shows that this is the best way to get through a divorce and it’s the best way to instigate a career change. Our stories about ourselves are our paths to self-knowledge.

The people we allow to help us tell the stories help us walk that path.

But there are also people who tell us our stories are stupid. They are the people at a cocktail party who excuse themselves because we bored them. They are the job interviewers who don’t hire us because we sound incompetent. The Harvard Business Review has great research about the importance of stories. Made to Stick is a great book about how to craft stories, and The Interview Q&A is the practical application of the skill — so that you can use your stories to change your life.

5. Self-delusion is good. Sometimes.
I love this post by Scott Young about why self-delusion is beneficial. He traces self-delusion from an evolutionary perspective and explains that we can project who we want to be more effectively if we are a little self-delusional.

This rings true to me. It’s the scientific basis for the saying “Fake it ’til you make it.” The stories you tell about yourself can create the life you want for yourself. You can call it self-delusion or you can call it self-knowledge. There’s a really fine line. But if you’re working hard to live your best life, you’ll find both sides of that line fascinating.

Which is why I’m able to let the reality TV people come to my house in two weeks to film. I can tell myself that they won’t wreak havoc on my life and that I will be the person I want to be on TV.

And, of course, I’m telling myself the show will actually happen. Which might be the biggest self-delusion of all.

Posted in Promoting yourself
73 comments on “5 Tips for gaining self-confidence
  1. Stephanie, Fairground Media says:

    Such funny timing on this one! I was just talking to my husband about this.

    A week or so ago, out of nowhere really, I thought to ask him what I’m like in public and around our friends. One thing he said was that I’m a lot quieter with other people around but when I do talk, I don’t sound shy. I thought that was really helpful info to have on myself!

    Often, because I’m so introverted, I think I come off awkward or dorky. But it’s the not knowing that bothers me. If I knew for a fact that I came off awkward or dorky, I think I could just relax and own it. :)

    • downfromtheledge says:

      That’s a great point; then we could move on from the WORRY over appearing dorky and get on to the business of BEING as dorky as we please.

      • Shir. says:

        There’s a great release in facing and owning something aloud. It takes humility and courage. One can move on then – to being better or being comfortable with how one is. The worry, then, of how others are perceiving us, diminishes and the improvement happens automatically at times. All that ‘covering’ or ‘trying to appear normal’…that kinda fighting, takes up so much energy. I am very quiet in groups but very different one-on-one or when am very comfortable with someone. Or expressive online but not so much in person. When I am home, it is like a huge weight has lifted off. Perhaps that is one reason I love living by myself. I can be myself. It must be the insecurity largely in a group situation. The feeling that I won’t be heard/ignored and will be hurt (had these experiences so perhaps I withdrew). The feeling that am not smart enough or funny enough to contribute brilliantly like some others do. So I take on the role of listener and supporter – though that does comes naturally to me too. That way, I am preserving myself and won’t have to face failure when I do speak up. In group situations, I feel uncomfortable ‘competing’ to get a word in too..since everyone is speaking or wants to speak, and I dislike my voice getting drowned (I also speak low..which is an obstacle at times) so settling in seems way more peaceful and comfortable. I need some training in socializing in groups :).

        I love hearing how others perceive me..it’s great insight, but Penelope is right – it takes courage. Especially, in a job situation.

        How lovely it’ll be to be photographed and seeing candid moments of how we appear to the world. Being too close to how we are, we can lose so much perspective. Great post Penelope…I wish you all the best! Tv show sounds exciting. Hope it all goes well and you enjoy and teach us, and reach a bigger audience. x

  2. Joan says:

    Another great post, really enjoyed Penelope. Have you tried out the Wealth Dynamics Profile test? I found it blends the 16 type and eastern philosophy and gave me something quite practical to work with. I now have more insight into my weaknesses.

    http://www.wdprofiletest.com/

    Cheers.

  3. Skweekah says:

    I like Number 1 – “Risk looking stupid in order to learn what you look like”. I think that this is what stops a lot of people in their pursuit for happiness. You’ve got to stop giving a fuck what other people think. Easier said than done, though.

  4. Harry @ GoalsOnTrack says:

    Great points, but wish the font could be bigger. It was bigger font last I read your blog I remember. Not sure why this small font now.

    • John says:

      Hi, Harry,

      Control+Plus zooms to make the font larger.

      And if you’re using firefox, the add-on NoSquint will memorize your preferred zoom level for every site.

      (And yes, I also think the default font is too small…but then I think that of most sites.)

  5. Dawna says:

    I have often wondered how people “see” me. On more than one occasion I have been tempted to ask but I’m not sure people are capable of that sort of honesty. I think people are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or of seeming rude if their impression is less than favorable. Too bad. The feedback would be invaluable!

  6. John says:

    I don’t know why, but your writing breaks my heart wide open.

    I look forward to every post more than I can say.

  7. Alisha says:

    Penelope, this is the kind of post that makes me fall in love with your advice.

    Since I’ve started to work on-line full-time with my various websites, I have a hard time explaining to people what I do. I think/know they judge me for not working full-time as an accountant (which I’m trained to do) so I’ve started avoiding people.

    It’s funny though – I recently had a friend’s boyfriend get drunk and lecture me on how I need to work in the corporate world (which I’ve done before) because otherwise I won’t know how to deal with corporate types. When people come out and say what they really think of you, you can actually see yourself better – and see them better too!

  8. Irving Podolsky says:

    You wrote, “The best way to change how you see yourself is to tell new stories about how you got to where you are.”

    Not sure what you meant by this, Penelope. Are suggesting that we change our narrative by rewriting our past? You don’t want us to lie, do you?

    Irv

    • MichaelG says:

      Yes. Yes, she does….

      To be fair, a reasonably complex life or work history can be broken down into pieces and reassembled to look very different. If you are looking for a change, you could find pieces of your life or work to justify the new narrative.

      But to be realistic, this turns into lying far too easily.

      • Virginia says:

        My current boss has told us numerous times in staff meetings that 50% of your success is in the actual work you do and the other 50% relies on your ability to tell your story. Your work can be exceptional, A+, but if you can’t articulate what you do or who you are it doesn’t matter. The person that does less or is not as good will always get farther ahead if they can tell their story. I’m not good at telling my story, it’s something I need to work at. I’ll be checking out the books Penelope suggested. Great post.

        • downfromtheledge says:

          I agree with your boss 100%. Good storytellers get hired…get PROMOTED; good workers don’t necessarily get either. Or, as a friend once told me: “I’m a great bullshitter, but you’re a great employee.” Trouble is, I haven’t gotten any better at bullshitting…

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Click the link in the post for “when I rewrite someone’s resume”. That post deals with the topic of whether this is lying ir not. And, of course I am not advocating that you lie. It’ll kill your career to lie. But it’ll also kill your career to not understand the difference between storytelling and lying.

      Penelope

    • Jen says:

      I think the bigger point is to acknowledge that point of view can make a very large difference in how any story is told. If you are only updating your resume wit new experience and not rewriting it you are missing an opportunity. Your career evolves and the experience you gained at your previous jobs should often be retold to align with the next job you trying to get. Those revisions or key to crafting the story of your career and what you’ve done at each prior stop to prepare for this next position.

  9. Carmen says:

    Sometimes I think I’m pretty confident. Other people have said they perceive me as confident, but is that the truth?

    I’ll be rereading this one a bunch of times. I gotta poke around at my own esteem to see what’s what.

    “Fake it til you make it” with guidance….the magic pill of success.

  10. Hbd says:

    ” I have found, though, that the more I know about how other people perceive me, the more self-confident I feel about who I am. Because I know who I am.”

    I am not sure I understand the shortcut here. Are you saying that the way people perceive you(an image) = knowledge about who you are?

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m saying that who we are is not singular or static. And knowing how other people perceive us matters a lot in terms of who we are in the world.

      We are like a Picasso painting – there’s no right view. But there’s a common view.

      Penelope

      • Isabella says:

        Charles Cooley, in the early 1900’s created this concept called “The Looking Glass Self.” It states that a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others. You should read about it. To this day I still find it the most relevant and workable theory and a fascinating read! That being said, I suck at interpreting and manipulating my ‘self’ based on other people’s perceptions, because I can’t ever read what the hell they are thinking to begin with.

  11. Sadya says:

    the pt.8 font size is so annoying. could you ask your designers to not fiddle so much with the blog format.

    • Leslie says:

      You can control the appearance of the font in your browser. Hold down the Control key and plus sign simultaneously to enlarge the type. (on a MAC it is command key and plus sign)

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I agree: totally annoying. I think we fixed it. Let me know if you still have font problems.

      Penelope

  12. Suzanne says:

    To add to this, if you want to know what you are like in an interview, practice with someone (your career coach if you have one), and watch it.

    I recently interviewed someone via Skype for some research I am doing and recorded it. When I watched the recording, I was appalled by my facial expressions. My concentration face makes me look angry. Now I realize that I have to be careful with my facial expressions.

    So, your point about asking someone how s/he perceives you is a really good idea, because sometimes that’s the only way we can get important feedback about ourselves.

  13. dl says:

    Interesting and insightful post. But are you really going to allow reality TV into your home? Why do that to your family? Is that the best thing for you kids? Are you thinking of them or yourself?

    • karelys says:

      it’s funny to ask this question. Kind of like when people told her to do research before homeschooling.

      Um….I think there’s only a handful of parents who wouldn’t think it through deeply before making a decision like this.

  14. Alex says:

    Not only does the way people perceive us often represent a more accurate picture of who we are than the way we perceive ourselves, the people surrounding us often CREATE who we are (http://www.happinessinthisworld.com/2012/03/18/how-to-pull-good-things-out-of-others/#.T9nVW_EkU6U). One other way to become more self-confident, then, is to surround ourselves with people who need us to be.

  15. Jamie says:

    I don’t have 65K subscribers to my blog, so when someone unsubscribes (6 in 2 years) I send him or her a humble email that says I’ve noticed, and I wonder if there’s any advice or feedback that might be gained. Only one of the 6 has responded, I’m sad to say (her answer: she was too busy to keep up). Do people always respond when you ask? I wonder if they have trouble being straightforward…

  16. John@PGISelfDirected says:

    While clothes don’t make the man, they certainly affect the way you feels about yourself. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    P, I really needed this post. Thank you.

  18. Ryan Eggenberger says:

    Great post, Penelope! I have been thinking a lot lately about the topic of “influencing others” and I think a lot of it actually starts with knowing ourselves first. I am and ENFJ (The Giver) and naturally influence people, mostly because I think I’m a good listener. Everything you wrote complements my thoughts. Excellent blog!

  19. toastedtofu says:

    People tell me I have an interesting story all the time, and I tell them I’m boring. Maybe I should re-think that strategy.

  20. Bruce says:

    A wise person once told me, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

    It’s good advice. Most people won’t go all out in telling you what they really think of you. They may tell you some of what they think…or soften up what they say…but few will give you the whole picture.

    I’ve learned the hard way to take what others say they think with a grain of salt. You can make a more informed decision about what you should do – or not do – if you take the time to observe what others actually do.

    Thoughts and words matter, but behavior matters more.

  21. Melani Ward says:

    Love this. My favorite line was “And there is not really one way to see yourself. So if you let other people tell the story of you, you see yourself really differently.”

    We aren’t one way all of the time. And it’s impossible for us to really see ourselves objectively. Our story changes constantly and depending upon which part of that story we’re feeling the strongest at any given point in time we will “show” something different or new.

    Maybe that is why people love watching reality TV. It’s raw and you see lots of different sides of people. That and the fact that most people just wish their life were worthy of a TV show. Most of us are kind of ho hum, interesting and smart and creative, but nobody wants to see an average day in the life.

    Another great book about story is The Power of Story by Jim Loehr.

    Thanks!

  22. Sean Verret says:

    I’ve only recently come across your website but I really like your blog. It’s excellent. I love the way you write and coordinate your thoughts. I’ve been writing my “story” for a while in bits and pieces, whenever the thoughts pop in to my head, but you have inspired to start putting it out there now. There’s no need to wait for it all to be done. It doesn’t have to be an autobiography. It’s my story and who knows what it’ll end up being.

    My one question to you about your blog is – do you write a rough draft/outline first and then come back to it to “formalize it” or clean it up? Many of my posts I just let the fingers do the talking and hit submit. However, some of my most popular posts seem to have required more thought and time before actually posting.

    Thanks
    Sean

  23. Beth says:

    I saw this on Lifehacker recently: http://failin.gs/ It’s a website that helps you figure out what other people think of you, so that’s maybe a good place to start on #1 and #3.

    I actually haven’t used it… maybe because I’m afraid of looking stupid. I might give it a try now.

  24. Dave says:

    Kick Ass Post.

  25. Mark W. says:

    “I was going to say no to this reality show because why would I want someone else telling my story when I already tell my story here, on this blog? But it’s interesting to see my story reflected back to me. I think, actually, that’s what I like. I like to see myself reflected back to me, through someone else’s vision, so I can see who I am.” from #1. Risk looking stupid in order to learn what you look like.

    Your current story will be told by someone else in a different medium with a reality show. Currently, your blog reflects your story back to you through blog comments, emails, etc. So it makes sense to me that you like to see yourself reflected back from someone else’s vantage point. A reality show will show a film crew’s perspective without much control from you. The blog is your story controlled by you with pretty much unfiltered feedback from many people and perspectives. So while both the blog and reality show reflect back to you, they are very different. Do they plan to make multiple episodes over some set period of time or do something else?

  26. Charlene says:

    Love the way there could be about 50different ways to tell the same story. I’m a little like that where I appear shy but I am most probably just a little insecure.
    Great article and I look forward to hearing more about you tv adventure:)

  27. gradalis says:

    Another post that makes one think. Thank you.
    Very shy people sometimes appear arrogant to others. Very thoughtful people are spometimes judged stupid. Because we are seen through the lens of how the majority behaves. I am not majority. Neither are any of you.
    There is something we should strive for, and that is seeing-people-as-they-are. The only way to do it is to stop interpreting everything through how-we-are. Almost impossible, for by definition we are all subjective, but the way to go. It’s a process, and at least in that process, if we don’t quite learn to see others as they are, we learn to know ourselves, and it’s a good start.
    I’m one of those people who often comes across so weird that people don’t hear what i really say and don’t see what i really do. I used to be really worried about people disliking me and finding me pain-in-the-neck, but then i realised that all the people i like, actually like me quite a lot. And i don’t really have to care if those i find pain-in-the-neck like me or not, because i don’t want to be waisting my time around them. Since that realisation, life is much easier, and the self-confidence that came with it is a welcome bonus.

  28. Jody Pecano says:

    Most photos of your kids show the same shirts. Wha’s up with that?

  29. Sadya says:

    You don’t have a TV at home so I’m guessing you aren’t really aware of what reality shows are like. Do look up Jersey shore, the Kardashians or maybe an old episode of The Osbournes ( Ozzy Osbourne’s family- I have a feeling u might have a bit of Sharon in you).

    Reality shows are all about ratings, they are not interested in showing what u are like, they know that dysfunctional sells, so if there is any hint of sanity that you display its likely that it will be edited out or vice verse.

    Let me explain vice versa – suppose the kids are just driving you up the wall and in that whole 24hr day just once you went ‘what the F@#k is wrong with u!”
    Now the producer & editors know that moments like these are gold, they bring in the ratings / advertising money. So now a whole episode is gonna focus on that one moment, and the rest saner moments are just gonna be edited to look like most of the time u are out of control & screaming.

    Here’s what TMZ would write/say about you “Mom from Hell- if u thought your parents were bad try this lady” . Cut to clip showing you using the F-Word infront of your kids “This is the same lady who tweeted live about her abortion, yes folks and believe it or not she gives career advice”.

    TV is no longer about your reflection or society’s reflection. It’s about selling unrealistic lifestyles & promoting consumerism, and guess what – dysfunctional is the new porn.

    After all isn’t that the reason you dont have a TV in your home?

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Its true that I dont have a TV and I have never seen a reality show. But I am very used to people ripping me to shreds publicly. And my kids already deal with public issues. For example, they did not think it was wierd that we had a professional photographer trailing us all over NYC. And when someone came up to me in a store and said, “Are you Penelope Trunk?” My son didn’t miss a beat when he said, “Are you a person who reads her blog?”

      So I have a feeling – maybe misguided- that reality TV wont be as disruptive to my families as others.

      Penelope

      • Tzipporah says:

        Check your contract carefully. Make sure you have the right to cancel. And then watch some reality TV. Your kids are tough, but I’m afraid reality TV could be tougher.

  30. Greg says:

    Do your sons understand what they are getting into? Maybe you should find someone who can explain to your kids what to expect.

  31. Dannielle Blumenthal says:

    Penelopeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! I am so happy for you!!!!!!

    I am sure that I told you you should do a reality show!

    I am sure that I told you that you have an amazing brand!

    It will work out – it will be a great show – do Bravo, or E! would be good but I am not sure you’re well known enough yet.

    If they can feature the daughter of Clint Eastwood (???) they can feature you.

    Weird is AWESOME! And you have so much drama, such a great story to tell.

    If I had the money, I would back you.

    Good luck!

  32. Heather McCurdy says:

    Dear Penelope,
    Another great post. I cant get enough! In fact, I meandered through several postings until finally I started at the beginning andamreading every single one. I’m up too Dec 2010 now, which is fun because when I finish a year, I pour a mental glass of champagne.
    Anyways, I am going to ask someone how they perceive me. My question is who should I start with? Someone close to me or someone with a little distance?

  33. Emily Mountier says:

    Thank you Penelope, this post couldn’t come at a better time for me because this is my Honours year at university and I think I am having the most insecure time of my life to date.

    RE:asking what the look on someone’s face means: this is something that several people I look up to ask me when we talk, and I’ve just realised I hardly ever do it to anyone. I am an INFP and I struggle with worrying a lot about what other people think about what I say, but asking for this kind of feedback is as good a move for me as for you; at least some of the time the truth is not as bad as I thought so I feel better.

    On the science of self-delusion, this TED talk (link below) is about the optimism bias, where people systematically overestimate how awesome they are and how likely they are to experience good things, underestimate for bad characteristics/events, and do badly at changing these beliefs when they learn that reality is worse than what they thought. And it’s entertaining.

    masivlehttp://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/thinking-about-the-optimism-bias-tali-sharot-at-ted2012/

  34. Kathy Berman says:

    I love your way of looking at the world. And, even though I am 71 years old, you have taught me a lot about being more open to the opposite way of looking at an issue. I have been writing about emotional sobriety since 2004 but had never learned the 180 rule–going half way around my thinking to the other side,
    I don’t know how you do it all but you do. And you do it quite well. As much as I’d like to read a post everyday from you, I’d also like to see more pictures of your life. Maybe when you’re too busy to post, you could just publish some pictures. I would love to see more.

  35. GE says:

    This is really exciting but just be careful with it. I worry that it will disrupt your life and your marriage. I had an offer to have someone trail me as a survivor of suicide, this meant following me at work, at home, with my kids, my husband, friends – everything. I instantly knew that I didn’t want my kids exposed with cameras following our lives – I didn’t think it was fair to them. That’s my conclusion, and clearly not the case for you but again – just be careful and maintain some control of the editing process. Don’t give that up or else you can be portrayed dishonestly.

  36. chris says:

    I cannot relate to this at all. It sounds to me as if this is the path towards becoming a public figure, being known by many.

    I only want to be “known” by those I care about–mostly family and people in my immediate circle/community.

    If someone recognizes me for something I have done, it is plenty for me to hear “Thank you. That was very kind/caring” or
    “Thank you for your generosity”. I don’t need/want anything more.

    I want to excel and be exceptional in my endeavors. But I don’t need anyone else to know/see me/recognize me. I know who I am and what I can do. That is enough. From the look of your comments, I must be in the minority.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Chris, this is a fine approach if you don’t have to support a family. For people who have even minimal needs in adult life, there is no luxury of not caring what people think of you. Managing what people think of you and what you’re known for is how you stay employable over the long course of adult life.

      Penelope

  37. harry says:

    Great post and thanks for the share. Maybe i can add another point is that learning to accept can also be one of the way to move forward and gain confidence in life.

  38. karen says:

    Love the photo of you in “thinker” pose framed by young musicians. It’s the Penelope I think I know from the blog. At least as far as motherhood goes. Surrounded by the music of homeschooling and the farm but still thinking in city.

  39. Steve Errey says:

    We spend a lot of time worrying or thinking about what other people think of us – when the truth is we’re rarely thought of at all.

    We massively over-estimate the amount of head space we occupy in others, putting ourselves at the de facto centre of the world – then the guy next to you is doing the very same thing.

    Perception is just that; it’s a fiction. In this way I totally agree that looking at the story you tell yourself (and therefore the world) has a huge impact on how you see yourself and your place in the world. Changing up that story to be more in line with the quality of experience you want to have can make extraordinary things happen.

    Thanks Pen.

    PS: I’ll never agree with the fake it til you make it thing though ;)

  40. Jonha | iJustDid.org says:

    I really like the first advice. Sometimes the best way to learn about ourselves, that specific traits exist is when we makes mistakes then we learn more on how we deal with them.

    On a lighter note, you have a wonderful family!

  41. Eva says:

    Taping, not filming. And remember, they can’t use what you don’t give them. Once you sign the release, you have no control. I predict this will end badly.

  42. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    On my iPad but just briefly that’s amazing that they’re filming you and creativity a reality TV show about you. I’m sure it will be entertaining but mindless entertainment while what we have here, what we read is entertaining, thought provoking and educational.

    I hope that you still have time to write!

    But that’s just me being selfish be because I love reading you. This will be an amazing experience for you and your family. Have fun with it all. x A

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I’ll definitely keep writing. For one thing, I have never NOT written about my life. So it’s unlikely I’d stop now. But the other thing is that if I stop writing on my blog and just do a TV show then the TV people control my life — if they cancel the show I have nothing. But if I run my career from my blog then I control my career, whatever happens with the TV show. So the blog is an insurance policy to make sure reality TV doesn’t ruin my life.

      Penelope

  43. Geek Girl says:

    Perfect timing for this post and so true! Thank you!

  44. Heather says:

    I would very much watch a reality TV show, and I like very few reality TV shows.

    I’m also very big into self confidence. I was really upset my senior year in high school when someone did an “unofficial class poll” and nominated me as “most likely to think they were most likely to succeed”. I was very offended back then, but now I’m pretty cool with it. I know I’ve always been happy thinking I was going somewhere and wanted to be happy with who I was and who I was becoming. If that’s succeeding, than I knew I would.

  45. Helen W says:

    I too am worried about a reality show adding more stress to a family life that appears a little tenuous at times. But I would watch because I respect you so much Penelope. Your advice has helped me a great deal over the past year and a half while transitioning from corporate life to self-employment. I wish you all the best with this and hope it gives you what you are seeking.

    About self awareness: I do have one friend that I asked to read my blog and give me some pointers. I asked HER specifically because I knew she would be the only one to be honest with me, to the point of hurting me! It was very hard for me to ask her as I anticipated it would sting, but I took that deep breath and did it. She had overall vague positive things to say, then went on to the very specific criticisms. I reviewed what she suggested very carefully and seriously and sincerely thanked her for her valuable advice. I took some of it and acted. I also considered the fact that some of it was filtered through her own experiences and judgments, which do not match my perspectives in certain respects. What did not feel right to me, I rejected.

    All in all, I have to say that it is valuable to seek other’s perceptions of you and your work, however you will never get the total picture without some prejudice coming from the giver which must be looked at beyond the face of it. AND, I would also add that you will find it hard to find enough brutally honest people to form a consensus. Penelope, you are lucky in that you have the numbers to draw from, I also feel that people know that it is hard to hurt your feelings, so they can tell you the truth!

  46. Andi says:

    Perception is weird.

    I thought I sounded very professional on the phone, till my little girl asked me, “Mommy, why does your voice get all high like that? You sound kind of crazy when you talk on the phone. I don’t like it.” ooooooookay then. This is an opinion that matters to me, so now I pay attention to how I sound when I’m on the phone, because I wonder if the person to whom I’m speaking thinks the same thing.

    Conversely, my parents & sister think I’m a very negative & angry person, that blogging is “consuming” me & turning me into a monster. I know their perception is true for them, but I also know it’s not true for me. I don’t FEEL negative & angry. I don’t FEEL consumed by my blog. So even though these are people who matter to me, I have to somehow accept that their opinions of me don’t matter.

    It’s all very confusing. I care about people’s perception of me, but I guess ultimately, I care most about my OWN perception of me. I like what I write, but not my voice on the phone. And I wouldn’t have known either of these things about myself if not for others reflecting myself back to me.

    Like I said, perspective is weird.

  47. Mane man says:

    Speaking of letting other people tell your story. Your blog read by a professional actor is utterly insane sounding. A human can’t be any weirder in real life.

    • chris says:

      You are saying that you like homogeneity and only homogeneity?!?

      Penelope is a person who marches to the beat of a different drummer. Penelope has Aspergers. Penelope is “alternative,” in many ways.

      If there is a professional actor who cannot manage any/all of those roles is a person with very little life experience, and very little imagination.

  48. Shelley says:

    May I just add, as a writer, that I think sitting and reading a book (especially a worthwhile one) actually builds self-confidence? It puts you in a quieter place and also keeps you in touch about some parts of you that inspire confidence: the ability to think, to imagine, to understand.

  49. Ellie says:

    I haven’t commented in a while because I have been busy at my new job (yay!). For a long time, I have had confidence and self-esteem issues.

    Recently, after finishing my MA I did two things.

    1.) I crafted my story. I practiced over and over telling a story to prospective employers about my background. I turned a lackluster employment history into a great story that catches peoples’ attention.

    2.) I bought a very nice suit, nice dress, black pumps and a bright red tote bag. I look like a million dollars despite my student loans.

    My story and clothes might seem like superficial changes, but they landed me a contract position at a hedge fund that I love. I am getting informational interviews left and right, and I am so excited to start this new chapter of my life.

  50. Katelyn says:

    Thank you for mentioning *Made to Stick*. I just finished reading it and am really excited about applying its lessons to my work.

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