I’m an overachieving people-pleaser from way back. I want people to like me, and I believe I’m a nice person with exemplary personal hygiene and a friendly smile — why wouldn’t they like me? And when they don’t like me — and believe me, some don’t — it feels like a Hulk-sized punch to the gut. You see, in addition to my goal of trying to be best friends with everyone, I’m also extraordinarily sensitive, a trait I’ve always written off as part of the “creative type” profile. To boot, I’m a textbook emotional Pisces girl. Oy.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the people-pleasing, overly sensitive parts of me don’t bode well in the business world — or even in my personal relationships. I’ve gotten way better at becoming more confident in myself and not relying so much on the approval of others to validate my worth. And guess what? My cats, through their behavior, have been great examples for me.
Here are five confidence boosters I’ve learned from my self-assured, sassy felines.
1. Ask for what you want
You can’t wait around and hope that someone will give you what you want, because guess what? Sometimes you’ll be sittin’ around for a long time. Like your-butt-getting-numb-from-sitting-around long time. The solution? Ask! Maybe they’ll say no, but what if they said yes? Cats totally get this and have absolutely no problem asking for what they want — sometimes to the point of being completely annoying. I hope I don’t harass people with my requests. Can you picture me circling someone’s legs, while loudly and repeatedly making requests? Uh-oh, I feel a silly video coming on.
2. Take risks
Safety gets you nowhere — and that’s the stone-cold truth. Most of us resist risk-taking because of fear of failure. When I began writing publicly, I was dead-terrified that people wouldn’t get my humor or judge some of the personal information I revealed in my words. I knew that if I ever wanted to be a successful writer — and I did, with all my heart — I would have to jump in the deep end and start doggy paddling (I’m not much of a swimmer). I would never have landed a book deal or completely awesome freelance opportunities, like here on Catster, if I hadn’t taken risks. Sure, I felt like I was going to crap my pants when my first piece of writing went live, but I didn’t. Thank goodness for a modicum of emotional composure and healthy bowels.
Cats take risks all the time. My Phoebe walks high-wire-style on the railing above our entryway. She never falls. Saffy counter-cruises, even though she knows it’s off-limits. To her, the risk is well worth the brief tastes of crumbs and leftover food particles on dishes. Cats know they want something and they go for it. Go cats!
3. Bounce back from embarrassing situations
We’ve all encountered awkward situations, sometimes even humiliating ones. It’s human to initially feel embarrassment, but how quickly do you bounce back? I bounce back way faster now than I did in previous years. If there was a typo in one of my posts, I’d feel like a total blockhead and worry that people would mentally chastise me. If an unflattering photo showed up on Facebook — tagged, of course — I’d feel completely humiliated. Now, I couldn’t care less. In fact, I post embarrassing photos of myself.
Cats spring back super quickly from embarrassing moments. Ever seen a cat fall off the sofa? In a split second, he’s forgotten it even happened and looks at us like, “What? You must be seeing things.” And does a cat care if her ear is flipped inside-out? No way. They’re pros at bouncing back and letting go of awkward moments. When I fall off the sofa, I hope to rebound just as quickly.
4. Flick your tail at haters
Haters gonna hate — it’s a fact of life, right? It’s been a long, rough road for me as I’ve worked diligently at not allowing people to get under my freckled skin. And I find the more I accumulate bits of success, the more the haters come calling. I know some of it is jealousy and occasionally people just don’t like what I write or how I present myself. Even as late as last year, I lost sleep over certain situations. I can honestly say that today, I am far more confident in letting that stuff go. In fact, I just lost a Facebook “friend” because she didn’t like my humor. I think I handled it like a champ and moved on fairly quickly.
I know some cats hold grudges, but most don’t carry much baggage. I watch Saffy snag Phoebe’s food and Pheebs hisses and swats at her. Ten minutes later, all is forgotten. It’s the same situation with toys. My cats are constantly jacking each other’s favorite toys and some serious hatin’ happens. In a matter of minutes, they’re cleaning each other’s hindquarters. Life’s too short to hang onto bitterness. If I want something bitter, I’m reaching for chocolate.
5. Be yourself
I really love who I am and finally decided I don’t need labels to define myself. I used to think I had to like certain kinds of music, art or books in order to appear “cool” or “hip.” Whatever. I’m unique and far more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been in my life. So what if I love ABBA and watch bad reality TV — judge away! I’ll just flick my tail at you.
Cats have this one nailed. They flaunt their unique brands of awesome and don’t try to emulate anyone else. Why would they? They’re absolutely in love with themselves. That’s really the key to key to unflinching confidence — you have to fall in love with yourself, Swedish disco music and all. Will you truly be happy otherwise?
What lessons have your cats taught you? Tell us about them in the comments!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Wrote a ridiculous humor book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
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