• Anisa Begum

UPFRONT - reflections on confidence and sisterhood

“As is our confidence, so is our capacity” - William Hazlitt

I, like many others, have suffered from highs and lows in self-confidence. I often find myself doubting my own abilities - holding myself back from trying new things because “I may not be good at it” or not believing I would get that job because “I’m not skilled/qualified enough”. Watching opportunities pass by me forced me to become aware of how damaging this was to my personal growth.

So when the opportunity arose to join the Fourth Bond of Lauren Currie’s UPFRONT course, I simply could not let it slip away. UPFRONT is a 6-week programme designed to “change confidence” for women from all backgrounds. Over the 6 weeks we had access to course materials on Podia and the chance to join a wonderful community of women via Circle - a brilliant platform that made making new connections a fun and safe experience. Lauren held weekly “lives” where, although we were on zoom with hundreds of women, it felt as if we were at a one-to-one mentoring session. During these sessions we’d have discussions, hear anecdotes of personal experiences, and use the chance to communicate with women whom we may not typically come across in our daily lives - women from a range of countries, backgrounds, and age groups. In our very first session, Lauren sent us into breakout rooms to ask each other what it is that we were looking to take away from this course. It was not too long until we realised that we were all looking for similar outcomes and that we were not alone on this journey.

One of the first things Lauren asked us to do was to stop apologising. To stop using phrases such as “sorry, but I just wanted to ask...”. We undermine ourselves when we use self-sabotaging language. She asked us to be kinder to ourselves, accept our flaws without being critical, and even try shouting out “woohoo” every time we make a mistake - a way to avoid blaming ourselves for uncontrollable factors and instead see mistakes as an opportunity to change and improve. Lauren emphasised the idea that language is a powerful tool in terms of shaping how people perceive us, and even more how we perceive ourselves.

The course itself had 26 modules, each with a video, actions, and further reading. The modules included topics such as: growth mindset, intersectionality, empowering others, the nature of confidence, and many more. Lauren also featured the works of other inspirational, like-minded individuals. Put together, the course is a complete body of uplifting and motivational content: content which strives to make you understand your self-worth and be confident in who you are. It does just what it says on the tin.

The shared values and collaborative learning atmosphere was familiar to me through our work here at Telescope. Values such as empowering others, bringing people together, fighting inequalities, and creating a safe space where our participants feel confident to share their views about how policy can be improved - these were the overlaps between Lauren Currie’s work and our mission here at Telescope.

Upfront has been a turning point in my journey of self-confidence. I no longer question my abilities and stopped feeling embarrassed when trying something new. I am determined to continue this journey, as “confidence is fluid” and thus it can always be worked on.

I am grateful for Lauren and the wonderful women I met along the way, and to Telescope for giving me the opportunity to take part in this programme.

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