Confidence Is Key

confidence_1It’s been a couple of weeks, but I’m back! I would’ve liked to post something earlier, but unfortunately I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off due to all the assignments, homework, tests, and presentations I’ve had in just the last two, three weeks. 

In fact, it’s funny for me when I get an email from McGill hoping that I’m doing well with my midterms, because they don’t exist for me. In a way, this intensive French course has got me in a little world of my own, because the program doesn’t follow the same schedule as the rest of McGill. Sure, we have semesters, but we have sessions within those semesters, so midterms don’t exist, but grammar quizzes (more like tests) and oral presentations do. Unfortunately we do have finals like everyone else, and my finals will be at the end of next week. I’ll have to do an oral interview, a text comprehension, and write an informative and argumentative essay. When I think of how much work I’ve done so far, how far I’ve come with the language, and how much I’ve really learned in terms of practical usage, it’s quite amazing. We were asked yesterday to fill out the course evaluation (that nobody does usually), and in reading the questions, I realized that I in fact did learn a lot. I’m proud to say I know a lot more than I used to. For example, I didn’t know how someone could say “what I want” in French, and now I do! Like I said, practical usage. It’s not everyday that you’ll be asked to debate in front of an audience, but when you’re speaking with your friends, it’s useful to know how to say “that’s what I ate yesterday” (I’m always thinking of food).

I’m also extremely grateful and happy to this course that it’s enabled me to become so much more comfortable with speaking in French. I’m sure that this goes for a lot of people when I say that for me, I freeze up all the time. I tell myself, “it’d be so much easier to speak in English, I’m sure the cashier will understand me,” and that’s actually how I basically lost 4 years of possibly continuing with French. As often heard, we are our worst enemies, we are our worst judges. I’ve learned this throughout my Bachelors and my time (aka most of my life) being a violinist. More often than not, you are your worst critic. And it’s especially true for musicians, because unfortunately, we are incredibly horrible perfectionists. We become obsessed with trying to play something perfectly, even though deep down we know that music is in itself subjective, and we nitpick at everything. I think it’s a large reason why for a long time, I used to never take compliments as they were. I always tried to be modest, but I soon realized that by saying “oh, really? I didn’t think so”, or “oh, you’re just trying to be nice”, I was actually insulting the person who tried to compliment me. It’s not easy to give genuine compliments either (although maybe for Canadians), so by saying a simple thank you, it maintains a balance of mutual respect for both parties. So, now I take compliments, I say “thank you”, and I try to actually believe in what that person is saying, because I’m sure that allowing positive comments is a whole lot more encouraging for self-esteem.

And self-esteem is incredibly important. We’ve all heard that confidence is influential, sometimes considered “sexy”, but mostly, confidence is something that not all people have, but should. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m the most confident person, but I’d like to think that I’m more confident than I used to be. Talking with friends, giving positive reinforcement and useful criticism, has allowed me to open myself up, and more importantly, believe in myself. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to go out of one’s comfort zone, but once you push yourself a little, things start to happen. I personally hate interviews because I always feel put on the spot when asked questions like, “why do you think you’re the right person for the job”, but I tell myself that the person interviewing me is just a normal person like me, too. And now that I’m looking for a job in the customer service department, I’m pushing myself to muster up the nerve to ask the cashier if they’re looking to hire someone. It’s something I wouldn’t have done earlier in my life, because I hate any kind of stranger “confrontation”, but it’s getting easier and easier.

I also would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, because among all my values, feeling regret for something I didn’t do but should have, that is definitely one of my top no-no’s in life.

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