“How do you build up confidence?” he asked.
I gave him some of my general advice, and then I had an inspiration. “Or, just pretend you’re a rock star because that will be way more fun.”
I love this thought experiment so much. It doesn’t really matter what form it takes. You can pretend you are a rock star, or a movie star, or a famous opera singer, or a Bohemian poet, or a tragic romantic figure, or that you’re leading a literary life (substitute that adjective as needed), or that you’re the type of person who is going to have ridiculous memoirs to write when you’re ninety years old. The point isn’t the exact shape the thought experiment takes, but rather, using your imagination to get out of your own head.
The trick is to get out of your normal mode of thinking. Instead of thinking, “What would I do in this situation?,” I think, “What would rock star Amy do?” And then I do the rock star way, pretending like it’s actually what I’d do and ignoring any resulting discomfort as much as possible.
So how I am leading my rock star life?
Well, because I’m a rock star, heads turn when I enter a room. I’m allowed to wear fabulous and eccentric clothes as much as I want. And I’m charming, and people generally enjoy meeting me and are interested in hearing what I have to say. And I can go and strike up conversations with random people without it being a big deal. Whatever, I’m a rock star.
Because I’m a rock star, I generally get to do what I want. I’m not afraid to ask or put myself on the line. And when something really sucks, I speak up or I move on. When someone isn’t treating me respectfully, I just walk away. Because I’m a rock star, so I don’t have time for that shit.
Because I’m a rock star, I can try new things and be fearless. My self-esteem doesn’t ride on my success or failure. I feel good about myself, so it doesn’t matter if I’m bad at something when I start out, even when other people feel the need to vocally judge me. Instead I can enjoy the satisfaction of the challenge.
Because I’m a rock star, I can say absurd things in conversation and then stare the other person in the eye and dare them not to find it funny. And if they don’t find it funny, I laugh anyway.
Because I’m a rock star, I stay up late and I sleep in late and I don’t cook unless I feel like it. I can find instant oatmeal and peanut butter toast glamorous when in the right mood. I have dance parties in my kitchen, anthems that I talk about incessantly on Twitter, and I proudly make brownies from a mix because they’re damned good.
Because I’m a rock star, I never have to apologize for who I am. And I don’t care if you like me because hey, I am who I am. Instead I celebrate myself.
Because I’m a rock star, I can walk in a room where I know no one. I can stand in a crowd and not have to talk to someone every single second. I can afford to not hide behind my phone. I can smile a small, amused smile and watch the world turn until I choose to engage.
Because I’m a rock star, I get to go to live concerts and plays and museums and clubs and dances. I get to travel and see new places and learn new things. I get to write and dance and sing and spill out my heart and soul for you in characters on a computer screen, and I get to be nostalgic about ink.
Because I’m a rock star, I get to surround myself with other rock stars, people who have passion and dreams and ambition and gratitude. People who don’t ask me to shrink down a few sizes but who take up their own space just as I do. People who love and laugh and have accidental adventures on a Sunday afternoon. People who are both fascinating and fascinated and love to laugh. Imperfect people, yes, but imperfect people who don’t take their lives for granted.
Here’s my secret: I’m not really a rock star. But when I pretend to be a rock star, all the above things are true anyway. Because when you pretend something long enough, after a while it stops feeling pretend, and instead it simply feels like you.
So if you want to become more confident, give it a shot. Pretend to be a rock star, and see if you can find the freedom to be yourself.