Pursuit: Confidence and B***sh**

Divya Pahwa writes about young-lady career advice in the weekly series Pursuit, here on the McGill Caps Blog.

Forget anything you’ve ever read about making an impression. Seriously. Clear your mind of it all. First date? Seeing a prof to argue a grade? Interview? Class presentation? Everybody has something that makes them “shaky-hand-tummy-ache” nervous. And often we run madly in the opposite direction when that nerve-racking event is seemingly creeping close. And more often then not it is in those highly unpleasant and uncomfortable moments that the most incredible and important things happen (I wrote about this in the summer, see Pursuit: WhatI wish I knew when I was “__”). You change, you have story, you meets someone etc.

 How do you turn something that gives you the nervous jitters in to something you face with with a stoic calm?

The answer: Confidence and B***Sh**

Yup that’s it.

Recently an incredible self-assured woman gave me this piece of advice. And it had been handed down to her by someone she admired. And now I am doing my duty and passing it along to y’all.

Let’s break it down then.


Often made obvious by physical markers: roll your shoulders away from your ears, stand straight, stand tall, show-off your necklace etc. Speak in statements (See: Pursuit: You Can’t Ignore This). Only say sorry/apologize if you actually feel bad about something – not to make the other person feel better, nor too salvage a friendship by appeasing the other person. You determine your own worth – project that in the way you carry yourself.


Alright, most people have really good B.S. meters. I am not advocating confident lying! Not at all. However, most people  suffer from imposter syndrome by not believing in their own knowledge. Thinking they know “diddly squat” compared to everyone else – which is probably not true. Really believe that you know your sh** and stand by what you say (see Jen D. on competing when you’re young an inexperienced).

The flip-side to this is hanging out with someone (or more often, in groups) where everyone else really is an expert (or they’re just super good at faking) and they do know their sh** about, say PHILOSPHY. And either you are so intimated that you do not say anything (often materializes as such: focus really hard, make eye contact, and nod your head sparingly) or you try to add your half-baked insight.

If you seriously don’t know the subject matter being discussed (hydraulics? details of rhinoplasty?) ask critical questions. If you have no idea what a smart critical question looks like in a given setting here is a “copy-paste” template for you: (1) Ask “What does that mean” questions. (2) Or rephrase a statement made by someone in your own words and ask if you have the correct interpretation. However you do it, just do it with intention.

Send in your questions/suggestion to Divya at divya.pahwa@mail.mcgill. See her past posts here.

image from TV Guide: Better Off Ted

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