The Skinny – Amy Brunell


I’ve been thinking about levels of confidence. Why levels? Because it seems to me that the people I meet are on a spectrum of confidence based on their unique nature and their life experiences. I’ve met people who say, “I always had the confidence gene. I just didn’t see why if other people could do something I couldn’t either.” Then I’ve met others who say, “I could never get up and talk/sing/dance in front of others.”

So I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. And even though people perceive me as confident, I have been working towards increasing my confidence to achieve certain goals. I have confidence to a point, but my self-image has these negative voices that creep into my consciousness and tell me, “Oh you can’t really do that.” And often the voices win.

Confidence is the decision to do something anyway, knowing that if you make a mistake, if you fall down, you’ll get up, learn and keep going, just like anyone else. It is a quality that demands risk for the potential of the win!

Confidence is not the same as cocky. There is a line that can be crossed. Cocky is the feeling of invincibility. It is the combination of “I cannot fail” crossed with an “I deserve” sort of attitude; it can cause destruction.

Confidence is an inner knowing that “I can survive the outcome” because “if I don’t risk I lose, always.” “If I risk, there is a chance I win.” Confidence looks at others and realizes that we are all the same. We all have the same negative voices, but some of us decide not to let the voices take over. Confidence feels like a knowing of “I can offer something here, there is potential here and I’m going to try and move forward, whatever the outcome.”

So I’ve worked on my confidence my whole life. And I’m fascinated when I talk to the people who have the confidence gene. I wish they could touch me and I would feel what they feel, but I have to work harder to ignore my fear and do it anyway. Some risks have never felt that big to me. I’m willing to stand before a group in costume and sing a song. I’m wiling to trip and stand up quickly as if I were a clown. I’m willing to laugh loudly and I’m willing to sometimes stand up for what I feel is right.

But I haven’t been always willing to stand up for myself. Oh sure, I get mad. I tell all my friends what happened, how I was wronged in the situation, but I haven’t consistently been willing to risk everything to do what was right. I haven’t been willing to walk away from one thing and be open to the next thing.

My confidence spectrum keeps me stuck because I hear the voices of my childhood, my parents telling me that if I take a risk, a worse thing can happen. It’s true. But it’s not. Because feeling not your full self, feeling mistreated, taken for granted, not worthy, might be worse than taking the risk. So I’m trying to really feel those feelings of unworthy, mistreated and used so that I can make the changes necessary to take a leap forward with confidence. I am clear about one thing: I don’t want the voices to win. Perhaps my epitaph could be: She took lots of risks. Sometimes she won!

The Actors' Gang


  1. Hi Amy, thanks for this article; as always, you hit on some basic truths.

    A teacher recently told me that everyone wants to be seen, heard and held. People (probably most people) sometimes have to ask for what they need, and that takes overcoming the feeling that we are somehow unworthy to receive good things. Another piece of what you said so well about confidence is that each of us may need to cultivate the idea that just being alive, with our inherent goodness, talents and flaws, is enough to deserve love and belonging.

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