Confidence, with Von!
I’ll let you into a little secret…
I am possibly one of the most naturally unconfident people you’ll ever come across. I say naturally unconfident because I believe confidence is something that you can not only fake, but actually develop very effectively with practice.
Most of the models, influencers, content creators and seemingly extrovert characters I know, all suffer with the same issue - they have at some point massively struggled with self confidence/self esteem and this struggle is more often than not the exact reason WHY they got into their line of work in the first place.
Alex and I spoke in some detail about what this means to us in our latest GYBO podcast (check that out if you haven’t already guys 😜) but today, I want to reiterate how it is possible to overcome your confidence demons even if it doesn’t come naturally to you!
Where it all began…
I entered this industry totally clueless; I was 17, and a little bundle of gothic nerves from a small town in Essex. I had no idea how to act around all the other beautiful models I often had to work with in London. I felt so intimidated by photographers and makeup artists and suffered immensely with imposter syndrome.
It became pretty evident to me that if I was to survive the rather brutal game of putting myself out there as a glamour model for ALL to judge, almost solely on my appearance, I needed to develop a pretty thick skin fast.
The same applies to creators today; you might not be putting yourself out there IRL to be judged, but in some ways it's even tougher because the people judging and commenting on you and your work all have the ability to hide behind screen names and fake personas, meaning we all have access to negativity at the touch of a button or through the swipe of our phones.
VON’S TOP TIPS ON FAKING IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!
Develop a persona - Something I did very well that got me through the horrible anxiety I suffered with for a very long time, was playing a character - a caricature of myself shall we say! For me, that was Von; Von was and still is, the unstoppable sexy, confident version of Shavonne. She’s the one who can walk into a room, talk to everyone, laugh, joke and model or perform even when Shavonne isn’t feeling great.
My advice when it comes to developing personas is give yourself a name and tell yourself that that version of you is there to protect the real you. That version of you is a brilliant actor, that can’t be hurt by negativity or anxiety. That version is your online persona that will get you through your confidence issues, and trust me - if you practice enough it works and you intrinsically learn to develop your own confidence that spills into the real life you.
I have tons of personas that I bust out for different occasions, but only a handful of people really know Shavonne and that’s exactly how I like to keep it. Keeping the real you private is quite important in this industry I believe.
Embrace your uniqueness - Real confidence for me started to develop when I no longer cared about the things that made me different, because in fact the things that made me different, were the things that I was getting booked for! I had small boobs, pitch black hair and tattoos - back in my day I was the only one that looked that way in the mainstream modelling game and it was why I did well!
When you start to become really comfortable with you, by accepting all the things that make you, YOU, your confidence will shine because nothing can hurt us or really affect us when we love ourselves. When we really love ourselves (OR at least accept the things that make us different 🤗) people notice - and TRUST ME, no one likes perfect. We warm to those who are flawed just like us, we are ALL flawed and that is what makes you beautiful.
Talk to yourself confident - I did this a LOT when I started working a ‘normal’ job and still do it now every time I go on stage or have to shoot. I tell myself that I can do all the things that the voice in my head is telling me that I can’t. I used to have to stand in a toilet cubicle before big presentations to agencies (I worked in marketing) and say quietly, ‘YOU CAN DO THIS’ ‘YOU ARE CONFIDENT’ ‘YOU WILL NOT VOMIT ON YOURSELF’ (etc.) over and over again, and combine it with some deep breathing exercises.
I would do this for a good few minutes, until I started to believe what I was telling myself to be true, and then I would tackle the task. I did it so much, it just kicks in now - everytime I’m about to perform or shoot, I do the same, it's like second nature and it helps you do whatever it is you’re about to do in a solid headspace.
Visualise who you want to be - Visualisation/manifestation or whatever you want to call it is a really great practice I talk about a lot, and really helps to shape yourself into the person you want to become. You can add this into your morning routine (perhaps as part of a mediation, or during exercise) where you simply focus on and think about what it is you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.
This can be applied to confidence by setting yourself up for the day; for example, if you’re shooting some content and need to get a lot done that particular day you can tell yourself it’s going to be a really fun and productive day! That today, you’re going to love yourself, be kind to yourself and be proud of the results no matter what you achieve.
If you do this over and over again, the impact can be really surprising - I had so many shifts in my negative self talk by practicing these sorts of visualisation mantras.
Be yourself - As much as I talk about the development of personas to protect your true self identity, people really will at the end of the day love you for you. At the age of 34 I am more honest than I ever have been. I have learnt that if I don’t want to do something I don’t NEED to do it. If someone is upsetting me, I can tell them. If something or someone no longer serves me or my needs, it’s OK to distance yourself, and that being true to myself and my needs is OK.
This applies to how you treat yourself, if you need to distance yourself from fans then do so, or if something is making you unhappy then just stop doing it. Confidence comes from standing by your decisions and being proud of who you are, and believe me that’s taken me a LONG time to realise but I am MUCH happier overall for it, despite this often making me really uncomfortable as I’m a people pleaser!
Remember what you do and why! What you do should empower you and make you feel like a total BOSS! The fact that you are doing what you’re doing, or trying to do, is incredible but you will question yourself and you will have lows - especially when content doesn’t do as well as you might have expected or you lose fans for example.
Remember - the world is incredibly fickle, but as long as you’re happy creating, enjoying what you’re doing and making sure you’re protecting your true self - you will become BULLETPROOF and confidence - faux or real - is the most sexy tool in your arsenal, so KEEP practicing, and you’ll kill it 😍🔫💣🔪