As the old adage goes, “Private victories precede public victories.” When I was asked to contribute to The Women Take Over, a site promoting “feminism and inspiration through role models,” I suppose it felt like another few steps to private victory- an opening of a door which I’ve long been knocking, and turning a big corner on a somewhat neverending journey to confidence and self belief.
But moreover, I had to ask myself, “Have I reached the point where I fit into the inspirational category? Do I really have something to add?” After fighting away at myself for so long, how would I take the biggest leap of faith and open up about it?
Well, here I am, and as per Anais Nin, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” It’s certainly been a roller coaster ride. From early days of being the school achiever, the constant pressure from others (but mostly myself), fears of rejection and failure so great I would generally find a way to back out of anything I thought I might not be able to obtain, the destructive negatives that go with perfectionism and an onward spiral into an eating disorder and bouts of depression.
I had always wanted to write. I earned an English degree, won a writing prize, read lots of literature– and in those times where the only way through was to numb it all, I found the best way I could express myself was through constant note taking. I’d always buy notebooks with snazzy sequin covers in the hope no one would ever guess what sort of dark details they held inside. However good the note taking, I wasn’t going to suddenly find support because I was good at writing things down. Nor did anyone guess that underneath the perfected veneer how many demons I was battling.
Step by step and by focusing on even the smallest achievements and staying true to myself, I’ve learnt the greatest lesson in life: the most important quality is confidence. With my many good experiences that cultivated confidence and counteracted the bad ones, I find myself on a newly enlightened path. Here on this path, people and things come to me. When I take myself out of my own way and stop second guessing, I can reach new levels I never knew I had, and I can even be a little kinder to myself! This true confidence, as opposing to the defensive, false, putting-up-a-barrier version, feels enriching and enlivening. I want to jump out of bed every morning and meet the world.
And my advice for you? Life is there to be fully lived. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else is going to believe in you. All I can hope is to inspire you to keep fighting your way through, because where I am now, I find I have much more to offer than ever before- and whatever I’m writing, seeing, reading, doing, I always have myself to come back to as good research!
Davina Catt is a London-based journalist and fashion writer with an English degree from University College London. Follow her on Twitter @DavinaCatt.
Main image by Lucinda Coldrey Fine Art.