Competence vs. Confidence

March 27, 2012


I have been taking design classes for six months now. I redesigned this site, including creating all the graphics, photographs and layout. I have years of experience in print layout and typography. But when I was offered my first freelance graphic design job, I flinched.

I was afraid. No confidence. This person thinks I’m a graphic designer and I’m not a graphic designer.

Unconsciously, I tried to sabotage it. I didn’t return calls quickly. I prioritized other things. I made excuses: I already had this other thing planned; I’m feeling tired today and I need to be at my very best to work on this/talk to the client/draft that email.

I was almost successful in failing without starting. When she told me she decided to give the job to someone else, I felt a mix of emotions. Relief was instant and acute. But my overriding thought was: Gretchen, you screwed this up.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

I got an opportunity to tell her that my busyness and slow response times were unusual, that those other projects had completed, and that I really wanted to work with her.

The next day, she gave me the job back.

This time, I jumped in, still carrying that heavy backpack stuffed with fear. I admitted to myself that I was afraid, not busy. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Turns out, my competence exceeded my confidence. I’ve learned a lot in my technical classes, I have a good eye for layout, and the project itself was not super-complex. The client is happy and I have some actual experience, not to mention billable hours, under my belt.

She is giving me another project! I’ll be carrying my backpack into that one, too, but at least it’s a little lighter.

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2 Comments on “Competence vs. Confidence”

  1. Nick Says:

    Well done ! But I see you as more a iPad Girl, stylish, trendy. Not a backpacker. And always confidant, Cheers !


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