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Confidence affecting me at work

  • 14-10-2021 4:13pm
    Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Hi all,

    I'm working in a creative field and recently started a new job. It's a job I wanted as I've known of the people I'm working with as some of the best in the field. They're all people I've looked up to and even studied to improve my own skills while I was in college.

    We were all working from home for a few months and I found it fine, maybe a bit awkward sometimes, chatting on Zoom. But now when we're in the office, I find myself feeling paralysed around all the people that I've looked up to. I lost a lot of my confidence during the pandemic and it's really affected me. I lost my confidence in my looks so when I'm around these people I just don't want them to even look at me as I feel so low about myself. And then I'm also the most junior person on the team so I just feel like my work is never up to scratch, even when others say they love it.

    I'm relaxed around a lot of people, but with the most senior people I find it so hard. They're all very nice, kind and make an effort to chat with me but I keep clamming up and barely get a couple of words out. Some days I get home and I just feel like crying as I feel so stupid. I've wanted to work in this field with these people for so long and now here I am and I'm making a terrible impression.

    I tell myself that they're just normal people, but as soon as I'm in front of them, I freeze. I've never dealt too much with confidence issues so I don't even know how to fix it but the amount of energy I'm using being anxious has me exhausted.

    Any advice would be great.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭kravmaga

    Sounds like you are suffering from some sort of stress or anxiety, go to your GP to discuss as you may need a referral letter for some counselling.

    Covid has affected everyones confidence in some way shape or form. There is also HSE Mental Health Awareness week recently. They have a good website.

  • Posts: 1,263 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    Sounds like you have built these people up in your mind too much, perhaps because you were preparing/wanting to work there for a while? You say they are making an effort to be nice, chatting etc. Why not return the courtesy? :) To make that step easier, remember that they are only people, like yourself, with their own insecurities etc. and not Gods. :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 888 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    Experience brings confidence. The only real difference between you and the others is that they probably failed a lot more than you at the job and learned from those experiences. Most people experienced them awkward early days, and plenty of setbacks on the way up.

    People generally don't expect new starts to know everything right away. But a positive attitude to learning is required, and resilience to bounce back after not doing something perfect the first few times. The real working world is more daunting than college, add covid to that and its understandable why the transition has been difficult for you, but you just need to stick at it and you'll gradually adjust.

  • Registered Users Posts: 32 alannoone

    Firstly - changing jobs is recognized as being in the list of most stressful life events, up there with buying a house, so be kind to yourself, its ok and normal to be stressed in this scenario.

    Second - remember these people were all new on the team once, just like you. They are not superheroes, they are normal people who just have more experience. you will get that experience with time. you are the same as these people.

    Third - They hired you, they know you can do this, they want you to succeed, let them be correct!

    Fourth - if its still feeling too much, get a therapist now. Dont look for a GP to referral, you'll be waiting for months. There are lots of therapists available now. Get a therapist and get some CBT coaching. CBT can be life-changing and IMO it should be thought in schools. Therapy/counseling is essential, if you pull a muscle you visit a physio. If you're mind is a feeling a bit strained, it needs similar attention. its not mental health, its just health.

    You got this, you're going to be ok and you will be better for it. Its going to be ok.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭maestroamado

    Try to meet on one to one for a coffee if you can... everybody likes to be asked for their opinion so ask for opinion from someone else on whatever you doing... I often say to people i do not know something about as a way of having a conversation...

    Personally i would give it a while... i suspect these friendly people may know you unsure and giving you support... Stick with it you be fine... i would leave the GP for a while as you be fine...

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  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 5,704 Mod ✭✭✭✭HildaOgdenx

    I tell myself that they're just normal people, but as soon as I'm in front of them, I freeze. I've never dealt too much with confidence issues so I don't even know how to fix it but the amount of energy I'm using being anxious has me exhausted.

    Give yourself a break. This weekend as soon as you walk out the door, focus on relaxing, and putting work out of your mind. Just read back the piece I quoted there from your post, and tell yourself nicely, but firmly, that you need a rest from the anxiety. Easier said than done, believe me, I know.

    You mention it's a creative field, which I'm sure needs lots of energy. You're already really good at what you do. Imagine yourself channeling even more of your energy towards being positive and creative, there will be no stopping you!

    Try to come out of your head, as much as possible. 'They think I'm this, that and the other'. Actually they think you are really good and they love your work. Write the positive things down and read them back regularly.

    This past eighteen months has messed with a lot of people's health, both mental and physical. If you feel it would help, have a chat with a counsellor. It can be very helpful to get things talked out, and to see what steps you could take, or what strategies you could use to build your confidence back to where it was.

    All the best.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭kravmaga

    Op, we just were given a presentation in work from this website by HR department. Five ways to wellbeing.

    See link

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,329 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    Honestly, you're far from alone.

    We've been told for 2 years to stay away from people, now we're being put back into social situations.

    Some people (including myself) are finding it difficult to readjust and reintegrate back into work.

  • I have heard in creative fields that there is a lot of confidence to be garnered from embracing failure. If you always feel you have to produce top notch material you can become obsessed and sometimes even afraid to try something new or creative because you are afraid to fail.

    So sometimes it pays to embrace failure and mess up sometimes. And while you should continue presenting your best work to the team - as is your job - you could even occasionally bring in your trash and cock ups and say "Look at this piece of crap I came up with - what was I thinking" and joke about it and get fun out of it. But they maybe also identify something in it's core that was a good idea or good approach and ask the team "How can I get the baby out of the bath water here and run with this it's pretty good isn't it? But I can't see how to develop it in a way that doesn't end up like this crap!".

    What can happen here is you lose your fear of them seeing your worst work so your confidence in your good work goes up. Also the team can often respond to your honesty and humility here too and see you are someone trust worthy. Or they might see things in your "process" they do not see when you only show them your completed best works - maybe even things you have not really seen yourself - and give constructive advice and so on.

    Also what can happen is they start opening up more about their dodgier work and failures and start to share with you in return. So you start to see their process and also it humanises them and takes them down from this high up pedestal you have them on which has you crippled by your awe and respect for them. When you only see someone's finished work and it is a high standard - you can elevate them higher than they might actually deserve and feel inferior.

    And since it is all a talking point and bonding - it can have effects on your issues with being part of the team and conversations and so on too.

    Overall though what you should aim for is that you are happy with your work - not them. Needing them to be happy with it and being worried they are not - suggests you need external validation and confirmation to maybe an unhealthy level. Some of the best artists and entertainers on the planet are the ones who are aiming to be happy in themselves with their own work.

    External Validation such as praise for our work can act like any drug. It gives you a dopamine hit of pleasure - but like any drug you can come to rely on it - and like any drug you need stronger hits and more of it as you become more reliant on it. So it is a cycle that is unsustainable because there is only so much praise and validation and fawning any manager can give you so eventually you are going to hit a wall of anxiety and self doubt.

    What the Pandemic and working from home has done to many people is removed the in the moment feedback from the team and managers. So our mind fills in the blanks. In the office we can see moments of pleasure or annoyance and can deal with them in the moment - but working from home we can start to wonder "Is the team happy with my work - are they actually talking behind my back about how useless I am - is the manager sitting there thinking my quality is going down and any day now he will suddenly show up trying to get me out of the company" and so on. This isolation can breed anxiety and paranoia and panic.

    But if we have our own standards and are consistentyl happy with our own work - that is internal validation and can be much healthier and less prone to vicarious judgement and paranoia.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    I find going for lunch or drinks with colleagues helps with this. Or mentoring. But we haven't been able to do this with COVID.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 36 Frasier


    I was a bit like this a few years back with senior colleagues. I find a lot like to talk anyways so just looking interested and nodding is half the battle. Just have a few standard questions you could ask e.g. How was your weekend?

    I know it sounds simple but it is something to build on. As you get more confident, maybe ask a follow up question or two - push the conversation back on them. You'll find your confidence grow and start engaging yourself

    Small steps and don't feel you need to be centre of attention from the start.

    PLUS - Your manager won't care if you don't talk much in the canteen - They say they like your work - that's what counts

    Best of luck with it