Haley Bates is a second year National Leadership Consultant for Chi Omega and graduated from the University South Carolina. Upon meeting her, I knew there was something dear and special about her heart. She is intelligent, thoughtful, eager and innovative. Haley keeps everyone on her toes but her witty and bright comments. Her perspective on life paints a beautiful picture of the world where her thoughts come to life. Join me today as we are invited into the mind of Haley Bates.
Much of my life, like most of us, has been spent learning in a classroom. Learning about specific subjects, with quizzes to assess progress, papers to demonstrate understanding, and at the end, a grade to represent the work that’s been done. The structure allowed me to set expectations, the syllabus told me what was coming next, and the professors were there as a pillar to lean on - providing certainty, direction, and yes or no answers.
Since graduating from college almost two years ago, I’ll admit that I have had difficulty adjusting to learning in the real world. The real world does not come with professors you can look to, or textbooks to ask you all the right questions, or a Chegg account where you can look up the solutions to your problems. The lessons we learn in the real world are less about the world itself, and more about who we are as people within it. Less about European history, and more about how our personal history impacts our lives. Less about biology or chemistry, and more about how to keep us from getting sick or how to remove stains from our clothes.
The biggest lesson we have to learn, though, is how to bet on ourselves. And let me tell you, friends – it is a doozy. It is a lesson I’m currently struggling to learn, and I’d be willing to bet that a lot of others are out there struggling with it too. Betting on ourselves is hard because it means trusting ourselves to know and do and say the right thing. It means believing that what we know and do and say has value. It means having confidence.
In this season of life, I am having a hard time betting on myself. With a big project at work and a lot of people depending on its success, I feel unsure of myself and the work I’ve done. With the end of my current job in sight, I feel overwhelmed by the possibility of what comes next, and worried that I won’t measure up. Voices of insecurity and doubt have woven themselves into my head, and I am struggling to push them out, but there are three things that have proven to dispel these lies.
The first, is remembering that I have been here before. This is not the first time that I have felt unsure or overwhelmed or worried about the future. Although these waters may be uncharted, these feelings are not. I have faced their challenges before, and now I stand on the other side having won. I can bet on myself, because these feelings have not bested me before. I can bet on myself, because history teaches me that it’s a good bet.
The second, is that as much as I want to possess the confidence to overcome these stressors on my own, it sometimes requires the voice of another to open my eyes to what is true. For me, these voices of reason and hope live in my friends, my coworkers, and my family. When I feel insecure about work I have done, an encouraging word from a coworker can restore my confidence. When I feel overwhelmed by the unknown, feeling affirmed by my friends who are experiencing the same fears helps me to know that I am not alone. When I feel afraid and as though I won’t measure up in the world, a loving sentiment from my parents is all it takes to make me feel assured, and remind me that I am capable and strong. I can bet on myself because the people I trust bet on me.
The third, is to step back and relax. I often find that when those voices and lies creep in, it is because I am overthinking or lingering on emotions that I shouldn’t be. Have you ever heard the saying that someone is “too close to the problem”? I think I get too close to the problem, and spend too much time worrying about what could happen if I cause things to go wrong. I think many of us do this. Instead of lingering in these dark thoughts, we would better serve ourselves to take a step back, grab a cup of tea and a book, or a movie and our favorite snacks, and step into a new frame of mind for a while. Coming back to our problems with fresh eyes often leads to a better perspective and a more restful heart. I can bet on myself because I know that taking a new approach will shed light on the truth that I am worth betting on.
As we learn to bet on ourselves, we will face some hurdles. There is still no syllabus to follow, no textbook to ensure we all approach the lesson the same way, and no Chegg account to give us the solutions. But each time we take a chance, we make progress. We still have classmates to lean on when we’re struggling. And at the end, our grade will be determined by how happily we led our lives as we stood tall and proud and made our voices heard.
So friends, bet on yourselves! Trust yourselves, believe in yourselves, and have confidence. We are smart, we are strong, we are capable, and our actions have value. We are world changers and doers. In the words of Queen Bey herself, “if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”
Photo by Katherine Mendieta