Self-Confidence: Learning, Encouragement and 'The Beach', Short Story by Someone Who Thought She Couldn't Write Fiction
I Can Do It!
Lack of Self-Confidence
‘I can’t do that, I’m not good enough.’
‘No one would be interested in that.’
‘I can write, my spelling and grammar is good, but I can’t write fiction.’
‘I don’t think I could try that, I know nothing about it.’
How many times have you heard something like that or perhaps you’ve said it yourself?
To my mind, there are three questions to such statements.
1 If you don’t try, how do you know?
2 If you don’t push yourself, how can you improve?
3 How do you know no one would be interested if you haven’t asked them?
If you know nothing about a subject, research it, learn. If you don’t try, you don’t fly. We shouldn’t go through a day of our lives without learning. I hope I continue to learn until the day I pop my clogs.
Confidence through Learning and Encouragement
We need confidence to start to do anything. What does a child do?
He runs full tilt into everything until he learns that some things hurt. If they hurt he learns not to do it again. If they don’t he continues and gets better at climbing more carefully, running more steadily, but he doesn’t lose confidence if he’s encouraged to think, to learn, and if he’s given help and guidance.
She talks, she uses words and gets some endings wrong because words are funny, they’re naughty and don’t always stick to the rules. She can say ‘I posted my letter’, so why can’t she say, ‘I wroted a letter’, ‘I getted a drink’, I maked a flower’, ‘I drawed a picture’. By listening and copying, she learns that some words are a little different and that makes them interesting because they break the rules. She remembers, she uses them and then she doesn’t remember that she used to get them wrong. She becomes confident to use lots of words, to make some up, to laugh at the silly ones and know which ones are really naughty ones!
Developing and LearningClick thumbnail to view full-size
Why can't we be more like children?
Nobody knows everything. I’d bet that, in a group of adults at an evening class, several people are itching to ask a question but they think they might be shown up, that others might think they’re ignorant. Once one asks, many others sigh and mutter, ‘Yes, I was wondering about that’, and no one feels a fool. Rarely are you the only one who doesn’t know.
Step up, bite the bullet, take a deep breath and count to ten but don’t stay silent. Silence is not golden. Silence breeds ignorance. Silence is frustrating. Silence teaches nothing.
Let’s all question everything! Let’s acknowledge we don’t know many things! Let’s talk about what we do know and share our knowledge. That way, we all learn and we learn fast.
Learning is listening, reading, discussing, doing, practising, then passing it on. Through doing and practising you’re reinforcing your own learning. Through telling others what you know, you’re also reinforcing your own expertise, fixing it more firmly into your long-term memory.
A thirst for knowledge is what keeps the world alive. Mankind needs knowledge, needs invention, needs discovery; without asking questions, without delving into details, he’s not going to improve the world. She’s not going to cure diseases, he’s not going to conquer fears, she’s not going to find new species, he’s not going to create new ways of communication.
Quest for Knowledge - Answers belowClick thumbnail to view full-size
I don't understand
So have the confidence to say you don’t know what that object is, you don’t understand that word, you’ve never seen that so-called famous picture, you’ve never been abroad. When you can do that, you’ll understand others better, you’ll gain respect, you’ll grow as a person inside and out.
No one is perfect. No one knows it all. Some think they are, some think they do, but they are the ones who intimidate us, who sneer when someone is corrected. Ignore your insecurities, have the courage to go for it, to speak out, to acknowledge that you want to find out, to explore, to experiment. That way, you’ll be a richer, happier, more tolerant, more respected and more rounded individual.
What is this? (answer below)
I know someone who is kind, tolerant, a great wife and mother and has a wonderful sense of justice and sense of humour. She can write. She thought she couldn’t write fiction. I think she realises more nowadays that she can exceed what her voice inside used to allow. She still needs more confidence in herself and her abilities but she’s growing in stature and is starting to believe. She is not afraid to try, she’s not afraid to push the boundaries.
Below is a short story she had to write for a course, inspired by the painting 'Beyond the Breakers II' by Spencer Lee. See what you think.
Gazing across the stunning bay an overwhelming sense of calm descends. The sand beneath my feet, interspersed with small irregular pools and still damp from the high tide, clings to my boots as I saunter towards the rocks. There is such peace and tranquillity. Even though I am surrounded by sounds, they seem distant, displaced, blurred; the sea an obscured drumroll as it gently retreats from the shore, smoothly caressing the bay farewell; the gulls overhead, cackling to one another as they circle and swoop in search of a meal. The wind, gentle but bitterly cold, swishes by my ears and brushes my hair in a song of whisper. Barely audible are the shrieks of delight and laughter as, far ahead on the rocks, father and son race to the peak and make discoveries of crabs and shrimp in the rock pools.
This is far from a Mediterranean island. The beach is not sun drenched, the sand not white or burning, but for me this is paradise. I am content. Yes the cold is biting at my nose, yes I’m wearing wellington boots, yes I’m wrapped up in scarf, gloves, jeans and my thick winter jacket but I’m cosy, I’m snug, I’m blissfully happy, I’m…..free!
I am surrounded on three sides by grand, dark rusty brown cliffs but, far from imposing on the bay or intimidating the observer, they wrap themselves around the beach protecting its innocence, keeping it hidden from the world beyond. This isn’t just any beach, this is a secret beach. Looking all around me I am cut off from the villages, towns and cities, sheltered from the eyes of others and hidden in my private paradise. Just my boys and me. No one can touch us. Only we know of the winding tunnel secreted through the cliff, concealed at both ends, invisible to those not privileged with the knowledge of its location.
The sun is gradually sliding down behind the cliffs, it colours the sky a warm orange glow, relaxes the body, soothes the soul. I breathe in deeply, the sharp cold air filling my lungs with pure, clean air; no engine fumes, no factory smoke, no pollution, no aromas of restaurants, bars, cafes, nothing but the crisp ocean air.
Such a beautiful sliver of land, a minute speck on the map of our giant Earth, yet it has a strong power over me. I’m drawn to it, to the feeling of serenity it forges so perfectly, to the lightness I feel within me as I stroll across the shore, all my worries and stresses of reality lifted from me and thrown out to sea. I’m free to think, to imagine, to dream as a child does, to let go of the chaos, be released from my daily orderliness.
I wonder how this beach became, how the tunnel was formed, who first stumbled upon this mysterious piece of wonderland. Will it remain far into the future? Or will the sea in her rage break down the rocks and expose the bay to those beyond? Will my secret heaven be discovered one day? Will the tourists flock here in hundreds and greedy businesses follow?
No, they can’t! This is my place, my secret, my tranquillity, my escape.
(This story is Copyright SF 2015)
My thanks to the author for letting me publish her story. She’s close to my heart and I know she will fly as high as the sky.
Answers (in order of photos)
A man-made 'tree' basket on which the stork builds its nest, in Alsace, France
Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg, Alsace, France
Put artificial ivy leaves in a glass bowl, insert metal 'shapes' of your choice and illuminate using battery powered star lights (like on Christmas tree)
An oak tree
Used to manually turn bottles of wine/champagne in order for the sediments to settle in the neck of the bottle.
© 2015 Ann Carr