In a 2021 interview with E! News, the global music superstar and beauty-industry businesswoman Rihanna was asked what she does on days where she doesn’t feel fearless, powerful, or confident. Her response was a simple, one-worded solution: pretend. It may be a surprise that the woman who was named America’s youngest self-made billionaire woman in 2022, who has mastered both her music career and entrepreneurial feats, and who is a fashion icon who championed the see-through dress movement almost a decade before the trend became ubiquitous, would have to pretend at anything. But the reality is that, while confidence seems like a foundational prerequisite for any kind of endeavor to be successful, it isn’t always readily available.
In an old UK-based study that I stumbled upon, researchers found that only about 40% of people actually considered themselves confident in 2011, despite nearly 50% of women reporting that self-confidence was vital to career growth, and 55% of employers considering it the most important soft-skill. Now, a lot could have changed in the past 13-years, so perhaps a similar study conducted today would yield different results. But it would not surprise me if many folks today still struggle with feeling confident 100% of the time, or if confidence has become even more difficult to achieve today then in the past. Confidence is not necessarily a bottomless pool one can dip their cup into whenever they need replenishing - some spaces you are called to enter are within your comfort zone, while others trigger a slurry of self-doubting questions. Yet, in our increasingly digital world, where authenticity as it relates to self-concept and self-branding is critical, how does one reconcile with faking it until you make it? Is there ever a time where it’s okay to, well, “pretend”?
My personal take: yes!
Unless you’ve completely mastered this game called life (which, if that’s the case, big round of applause for you!), you are going to sometimes find yourself in new environments where you may not feel 100% confident. Maybe you’re starting a new job and not sure what to expect on your first day. Maybe you’re playing a new role in your personal life - new mother, new wife, or making new friends. Or maybe you’re undertaking a new goal that you’ve previously put off in fear that you’re not enough or can’t complete it. In all these situations, it’s almost inevitable that there will be a sort of transitional period in which you are acting a part that is totally new. You will have to be someone you haven’t been before, or do something before you know if you’ll even be successful at it. Ah, if only life had a tutorial video, am I right?
What I have learned is that when we act the part, we can eventually fully embrace the role. But it requires us to trust the vision of what can be before we see the reality of what is. Instead of looking at this transitional period as being inauthentic to who we are, I believe this is more like training ourselves in preparation for reaching our full potential. For instance, take learning how to ride a bike for the first time - you start with training wheels to get the motion and the feel right. But eventually, you have to remove the training wheels. Meaning, you’ll just have to ride the bike despite having never ridden a bike in that way before. It is not you pretending to be a bike rider, it’s plunging yourself into the doing enroute to being that bike rider. The skills, the comfort, the confidence will follow after enough reps. The same goes for all those other new roles and relationships we find ourselves navigating.
So what are some small ways you can “pretend” without sacrificing your authenticity? I would wager that Rihanna would agree that fashion is one such solution. Perhaps, you don't feel beautiful, or powerful, or smart just yet - but how you present how you want to feel on the outside can sometimes influence how you actually feel on the inside.
When I started Collection by Rin, I wasn’t my most confident self. In the height of the pandemic, with so much changing and the future uncertain, I was also reflecting on my own passions and purpose. In fact, I used jewelry making as a way to express myself when other methods felt inaccessible or disingenuous, or quite literally impossible given the social distancing protocols. You’ll notice the earrings in my collection are big, vibrant, with unique shapes and textures. They are a representation of me, and a representation of the beautiful, diverse individuals that make up the communities that I am part of. My earrings are bold, artful conversation starters that speak before I do.
Earrings have been around for centuries, throughout cultures around the world. Such seemingly simple adornments can carry so many different meanings. They signify who we are, who we want to be, and how we are feeling. So the next time you aren’t feeling your most confident self, perhaps your earrings can say, “I am here and I am ready to take on the world!”
Here's a little advice from Bad Gal RiRi. Enjoy!