Have you ever filled out one of those “getting to know you” questionnaires? Like “What’s your favorite book?” or “If you were an animal, which one would you be?” These are a standard fixture of the summer program I work at as a means to get to know the faculty and administrative staff. This year, I was really stumped by “Describe yourself in three adjectives.” The first one that popped into my mind was cynical, to which I added anal and intense.
Realizing that these sounded rather horrible taken altogether, I enlisted the help of my daughter and husband. They came up with a rather nicer list: charming, brilliant, and hard-working from my husband; and charismatic, confident, and focused from my daughter. I was really touched. I liked their version of me much better than my own but I lacked the ability to see myself the way they did. The French expression for self-confidence is confiance en soi (kon-fee-ahnse ohn swah) and although I appear to others to possess this in abundance, deep down I’m a bundle of insecurities.
Isn’t it strange how hard we can be on ourselves? Recently, my husband gave me a link to a Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy entitled Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. It’s all about how we sabotage ourselves from appearing confident and how we can re-wire our brains in just two minutes to convey a more powerful image. I practised her ideas prior to my opening address to the students and the faculty, and I did feel more confident. In fact, the President of the company I work for asked for a copy of my remarks to add them to his “best-practices” list for other Program Directors!
So what adjectives did I settle on for my questionnaire? I decided to go tongue-in-cheek and opt for omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Not bad qualities for the Director for a program of teenagers to pretend to have!