Outsider to Underdog: How to kickass in a world that makes you feel second best

On an average day, who do you talk to the most?

I am certain that should I do a poll, the same few people reflecting the same few relationships would spring to mind for more or less all who are reading this.

Perhaps it’s your best friend who MUST be kept in the loop with all the goings on in your day. Your partner maybe, who has to deal with you venting your frustrations at life every 2.3 seconds. Your mum who you need advice from, because for the third time this week you’re attempting to cook the perfect poached egg but can’t quite remember whether she said it was a good idea to use vinegar in the water or not. Or even your boss, because of course you never have enough free time from work to even contemplate socialising beyond the confines of your very comfy, pillow ridden bed.

What would you say if I told you mine was the voice inside my head?

No, not in a possessed-by-a-demon-ready-to-take-over-the-world kind of way, in more of a Carrie Bradshaw-esque narration of my life.

My inner monologue. My conscience. The little voice that can be both my biggest supporter and my harshest critic. She just so happens to control my confidence dial and has the ability to fluctuate my self-worth drastically between ‘don’t even bother, you’re a not worth it’ to ‘flick your hair again, you absolute queen’, on a daily basis. Isn’t it strange that the tiniest fragment of one’s imagination can dictate exactly what it is you are capable of on that particular day? She is the one that decides on my behalf whether to remain within the rigid, borders-of-endless-height that defines my comfort zone – of which you could fit on one side of a 5 pence piece – or whether for one day, and one day only, I’m going to attempt the great escape to the scary unknowns beyond the perimeters.

I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve ventured out of said perimeters, but each time stands tall and proud in my memory as a mini battle that I fought hard to win. What also stands alongside the memory, like a very dark and very grey cloud, is the feeling I had in each instant of ‘WHY THE HELL AM I HERE?’ Surely I didn’t really belong in any of those situations, especially since every person I was surrounded by was successful, stable and seriously confident in both their style and demeanour?

One instance was my very first attempt at networking – it was in a tiny room that forced everybody together, so if you didn’t immediately initiate some keen conversation and extravagant self-promotion you’d stick out like a sore thumb. I was the sore thumb. Luckily as quickly as I’d hurried into the empty, lone chair in the corner, somebody had already beckoned me to come and join their conversation and of course, asked me to tell them about myself and why I was there.

To this very day, my skin begins to completely crawl away from my body if ever I have to talk about or sell myself. This is when the voice in my head really takes the reigns, reminding me not to let anybody notice that I’m a complete fraud, and in no way deserve to be in that room convincing people of my expertise. Maybe if I talk slowly so they can’t hear the slight nervous quiver to my voice or drop a few superlatives here and there to really hammer the point that I am in fact as successful and as capable as they are. And certainly, whatever you do, DON’T TRIP UP ON YOUR WORDS… then they’ll really know you don’t deserve to be here because I am damn certain that no one in this room has ever made a mistake in their life!!! What didn’t help my cause was the fact that every other woman in that room was older than