What Julie Andrews taught me about confidence

Recently I’ve been making full use of my Spotify daily mixes, one of which features songs from various musicals (it really is the best kind of music). A few weeks ago, I was listening to the playlist on my way to work and one song in particular, which I hadn’t heard in ages, struck a chord with me – ‘I have confidence’, sung by Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

The reason this song was probably so spine-tinglingly appropriate for me at this particular point in my life is that I have made some pretty big changes lately. First of all,  I left my job to start my own business  – I keep having to correct myself to say I ‘left’ my job instead of I ‘quit’ my job because the latter conjures up images of a Bridget Jones-style showdown and it definitely wasn’t that dramatic and there definitely wasn’t any Aretha playing in the background as I left. This was a pretty big decision that took almost all of my guts because who leaves a permanent job? It is so difficult to land a job nowadays that when you finally get one you feel as if you should stay no matter what and that if you leave you’re jinxing yourself for all eternity and starting the countdown to the day your naysayers will smugly say ‘told you so’ (I have to admit, I haven’t had any naysayers, or, at least, none that I give two hoots about).

The second big change coming is that I’m fleeing the country: my husband and I are moving to France (where he comes from). Somedays I am so excited for this change, other days I feel like Rachel in Friends when she’s moving to Paris and she says ‘they’re really going to hate me over there’ – how can I make them see that a cup of tea is a staple drink and should not cost more than a glass of wine? Of course the other thing that makes me falter in my/our decision to leave Scotland is that I will also be leaving most of my family. Yes, FaceTime and Skype and WhatsApp all exist and are overused to the point where I probably see more of my friend who lives in Florida than my next door neighbour, but there’s just something so different about knowing that to meet up in person you’ll have to take a plane. Inevitably, the rest of my family will have get togethers when I am not there and I’ll probably have the worst FOMO known to (wo)man and just have to cry into my baguette while I bemoan the fact that nobody gets my jokes because they just don’t work in French.

The point is, I have these two big changes that are happening and while, for the most part, I am so excited and happy that they are happening, I am also, to put it mildly, shit scared. I think that about 70% of the time I function at a confident, ‘what a time to be alive’ sort of headspace; the other 30% is basically internal me screaming into a pillow. There is so much that could go wrong!! But then, there’s so much that could go right.

What does Julie Andrews have to do with all of this? Well, the song in question comes at the part of the film when Julie’s character, Maria, is leaving the convent to go work for the Von Trapp family. She sings “what will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder. It could be so exciting, to be out in the world, to be free….now here I am facing adventure. Then why am I so scared?”  It perfectly sums up the weird mixture of excited and nervous that you get whenever you make a big decision in your life, sort of like you want to run around joyfully laughing and be sick all at the same time.

We all go through this, whether we are deciding to leave our job, move country, change career, get a fringe, get married, have a baby, speak in public…we need to remember why we want to do something, listen to your excited self, instead of getting caught up in the reasons why not to do something. As much as I hate this term, sometimes it needs to be said: YOLO. Yes, we only live once (so, really it should be WOLO) and we need to face our fears and chase our dreams instead of being scared.

We need to listen to Julie Andrews:

“With each step I am more certain, everything will turn out fine. I have confidence the world can all be mine! They’ll have to agree, I have confidence in me”.

Listen to Julie! Go face your fears and I promise everything will be fine. (And if you haven’t watched the Sound of Music in a while, or ever, watch it! But be warned that it’s like 3 hours long. Maybe just listen to the soundtrack instead.)

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