Photo of little girl walking with her mother, taking by Joana Miranda

Photo of little girl walking with her mother, taking by Joana Miranda

I got a letter from a friend recently who was feeling an acute lack of confidence in a new work situation.  In addition to fighting overwhelm with the work load, she was feeling undervalued, alone and insecure about her talents.  I can identify because I’ve been there, too.  In fact, I think we probably all have at some point in our lives.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way to help cope:

  • Know that you are not alone.  Everyone feels a certain lack of confidence in new environments.  Breathe, and remember to takes things one step at a time.
  • Everyone is a beginner at something.  Being an adult doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at everything.  “Getting there” means putting in the time, work and effort.
  • There is no substitute for experience.  Flops or mistakes are the “tuition” you pay to gain experience.  Be grateful, learn from them, and move on.
  • Seek out those from whom you can learn.  Sometimes the best friendships result from a humble request for help.  If you need advice or help, don’t be afraid to ask.  If you meet with resistance, move on until you find what you need.
  • There will always be people better and worse at certain things than you are.  Look for those people to whom you can reach out and help.  Booker T. Washington said, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
  • Be passionate about what you choose to do.  To get good at something will take hours of work.  If you don’t love what you are doing, you won’t be able to withstand the hours.
  • We all come from less-than-perfect upbringings.  In fact, so do our parents.   While we are a product of our environment, we can grow beyond what we were given.
  • Be kind to yourself.  You matter because you are here.  That is enough and you do not need to prove your worth.
  • Aim to be the best that you can be.  How do you want to be remembered after you are gone?  Every day do something to get you closer to that goal.
  • Reward yourself.  Eat a lollipop, watch a funny movie, go for a walk.  Do the things that remind you why you are happy to be alive.
  • Surround yourself with good people.  We all carry our own naysayers in our heads and don’t need any more around us. Look for the kernel of wisdom in what everyone tells you, but keep company with the people who believe in you and in your capacity to grow and stretch.
  • Reach out to others.  Ultimately, our security in life hinges on being accepted and loved.  Embrace this and you will be that much more compassionate to yourself and to the others around you.
  • Know that good deeds will always come back to you.  Not always in the ways you expect, but always welcome.
  • Never give up.  Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”


  1. nina says:

    One of my most memorable quotes from reading is from Chaim Potok, “All beginnings are hard…”

    It appears several times throughout the book as the principal character moves through his life.

    • Hi Nina,

      Which book of Chaim Potok is that quote from? I think the only book I’ve read of his is My Name is Asher Lev. Did you read The Chosen? I need to find some good summer reads…

      🙂 Joana

      • Nina says:

        I think it’s from In the Beginning. I did read the Chosen – I liked all the early Chaim Potok books very much.

        I also recommend Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and anything by Jane Austen. Girly summer reads.

        (And of course, HP)

        • joana says:

          Hi Nina,

          I’m assuming “HP” stands for Harry Potter. I read the first 4 books of the series, but then haven’t read beyond that. I should finish reading them since I see that the final movie is set to come out soon!

          I’ll see if I can check out Potok’s The Chosen or In the Beginning. It’s been a while since I read any Jane Austen. I think the last thing of hers I read was Emma, but that was a long time ago.

          I’m also big into memoirs. My favorites have been Angela’s Ashes, The Glass Castle, The Liars Club and The Color of Water. Have you read any of those books? Can you think of other memoirs I should read?


          • nina says:

            A Girl Named Zippy is a memoir that I loved. Just hysterical.


            • joana says:

              Hi Nina,

              Thanks for the great suggestion! It’s too late to order it from Amazon (although I did check into it there) but not too late to look for it at the Barnes and Noble in Saratoga. Sounds like the perfect antidote to long days of Stravinsky and Adams…

              Ciao –

  2. Mona says:

    I love this post. I have a number of blogs but I always keep one just for positive and enriching things, it’s called, Only Good Things. I have written a fairy story/fable about healing my inner child. I totally enjoyed painting the illustrations and meeting my inner nurturer. She is my Fairly-Good Mother, and she is one of the good people with whom I surround myself, my inner child selves, that is. Thank you for this post.

    • Hi Mona,

      I love the idea of the “Fairy Good Mother!” Thanks so much for sharing your lovely comment.
      All best wishes,

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