Believing in Yourself Starts with a Badass Pair of Socks
Throughout my early career, I dealt with a multitude of issues stemming from not believing in myself. Whether it was “Imposter Syndrome” or just being in awe of the remarkable talent around me, I was always willing to put myself down first. That self-damaging disbelief in myself manifested into more issues, like a lack of motivation, being paralyzingly afraid I was going to get fired, loss of focus and not continuing my self-education in all things design and web.
Something had to change. There must be a small effort I can take that will help me recognize and overcome these issues, I thought constantly.
My answer came from an unexpected source: my 3-year old daughter.
We were out shopping, and she saw some badass (my words, not hers) socks with robots on them. She loved them. In fact, I remember she was disappointed that they didn’t have them in her size.
I was going through some work related drama at the time and had a big, life-changing interview the next day. My daughter convinced me to wear the socks for her. I figured, “What the hell? I don’t have anything to lose. If I don’t get the job, at least I wore a pair of badass socks picked out by my little girl.”
The next day at the interview, I rocked those robot socks. I knew they were cool, my daughter had something to do with it, and the only person in that interview who knew about the badassery bestowed upon my feet was me.
So for the first time, I walked in proud and relaxed — into a meeting with no expectations, no lack of believing in myself, bolstered in the delight of wearing these socks. I was kind of snickering to myself mentally about how childish it was to wear robot socks to an interview that could change my life. But as a potential conciliation, I knew that if I didn’t get the job, I did something fun for my daughter.
As we were wrapping up the interview, a member of the hiring team noticed my socks. For a split second, I was paralyzed with fear — I had just participated in what I thought was a very successful interview, only to be undone by these socks. Then the hiring team member burst out in laughter and gushed to everyone about how fantastic my socks were. She even said they were “badass” (her words, not mine).
I was beside myself. These robot socks broke down the wall of business protocol and all of a sudden we were having real, human conversation.
None of this LinkedIn bullshit filled with inauthentic corporate buzzwords. We were talking honestly about my skills and abilities. And I was able to speak for myself, full of belief and determination. It was the real me. A me that I had beaten down and locked away, only to have a simple pair of badass robot socks unlock my potential.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I landed that job. And the people I worked with were some of the best folks I have had the privilege of working with. Many of whom are still very dear friends to this day.
The lessons learned
In that interview, I learned a precious lesson: I began to believe in myself because I was myself. I was doing something I was proud of by wearing the socks my daughter adorably picked out. I realized that those socks were a lot like my talents and abilities.
When you wear a pair of socks, badass or not, they are an obscure way of bringing out who you are — your true self. Much like your talents and abilities, if they aren’t appreciated by you first, then how can you expect anybody to notice in a positive and reaffirming way? By putting your true self out there and wearing a personal identifier, it’s similar to putting your creative project out there, regardless of who sees it. It’s for you. It’s the personal acceptance of you and what you’re capable of doing.
Much like wearing badass socks, not everybody will see your work the same. Some may see it and love it, some may have bad things to say about, and some may even recommend how to get even more badass socks. All of this is similar to the responses folks will have to your work. Some people will love it, some will be indifferent, some will have nasty things to say about it, and some may offer helpful knowledge to allow you to do even better work than you are already doing.
For me, and every time I dress up for work, I never forget my ever-growing collection of badass socks. I have a broad range of socks that allow me to express myself in my authentic way without being over-the-top. Just as my socks change day-to-day, my talents, abilities, and creativity changes.
I have learned from a very simple garment how to better be myself and how to better believe in myself. Next time you feel disbelief in yourself creeping in, try putting on some badass socks to remember you didn’t make it this far only to make it this far.