Talk to yourself in a truthful and encouraging way. When I returned to America in 2018, I was all over the place emotionally and mentally. I moved to Georgia a month after coming back. At the time, I had three roommates; one I knew and two I didn’t. It was a tough several months! I was used to being around my teammates, who encouraged me and did life with me. I didn’t have a job or know what I wanted to do next. I felt God calling me back to the hospital, but I wasn’t excited to pursue nursing in that setting again.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Chelsea Bowman.
Chelsea Bowman, or Chelsea Bee as she likes to be called, is from South Carolina but now lives with her husband in Georgia. She is a nurse by day, but she has a strong passion for writing! Chelsea started blogging in 2017 while on a mission trip called the World Race and has continued ever since! She writes primarily about life lessons she is learning and mental health. She loves tiny humans, coffee, books, and nature, to name a few!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina. I was part of a traditional American family consisting of myself, my mom, my dad, and my younger brother. Our parents raised my brother and me in the church from birth, and my faith played a huge part in shaping me. As a kid, I enjoyed reading, playing with dolls and Barbies, and doing craft projects! I also really liked school and learning. Some of the issues I struggled with most were worrying, trying to be perfect, and not believing in myself. I usually felt like I was too much or not enough.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
When I began thinking seriously about what career I wanted to pursue, I knew I wanted to help people, especially kids. During my senior year of high school, my mom stumbled upon an article about neonatal nursing, working with babies in the hospital, and this led me to go to college for nursing. I knew it would be a great way to help other people, and nursing has so many different paths you can take. Those were the things that initially drew me to this career. (Funny enough, since graduating with my nursing degree in 2015, I have never actually worked as a neonatal nurse!)
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t specifically remember any funny mistakes I made when I started working as a nurse because it feels so long ago. I know there were times when I forgot a patient’s name or went into a patient’s room but couldn’t remember why. Once, I did spill a patient’s bodily fluids onto my shoes and had to change into hospital socks. These little mistakes were embarrassing at the moment but funny now. They taught me that I am human and will fail at times. Even when that mess-up is uncomfortable, I can usually look back on it later and laugh.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
As a pediatric special needs nurse, my day regarding what I must do is fairly set in stone. We do have an inclusion basketball game and two Special Olympics events coming up which will be a lot of fun!
But, as a blogger, I have many different projects in the works! I am working on blog posts about celebrating diversity, ways to improve mental health, and living an intentional life. I also aim to begin seriously writing an ebook, an idea I’ve been tossing around for a while now. All of the posts I have planned for this year are designed to help others somehow, whether by sharing a lesson I’ve learned, things that have helped me on my journey with mental health, or even something small such as a book or restaurant recommendation.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Believing in yourself is so important because you are the only constant person in your life. You can be your own biggest cheerleader. There are other people that will believe in you, such as family, friends, teachers, etc., but they may only be with you for a season. They also can’t live and work for you; they can’t walk your path.
I can think of many examples of this in my life, but one would be when I was in college. Nursing school was HARD, to say the least, and there were many times when I questioned if it was the path I should be taking. At times I wanted to give up. My mom was a huge supporter in my life; she believed I could succeed and graduate with my nursing degree. Yet, no matter how much she believed in me, she couldn’t put in the effort for me. Her encouragement could only take me so far. It took choosing to believe in myself to keep moving forward and give it my all!
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
Believing in yourself is a huge thing, but it does have its limitations. Believing in yourself doesn’t give you a natural talent for something, but it may give you the drive to work hard at something, such as basketball. Over time, you may improve at basketball if you practice, but you still may never make it to the pros, even if you believe you can. On the flip side, if you are talented at basketball, you probably won’t make it very far if you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities because you won’t have the confidence to apply yourself.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Sadly there have been so many times I didn’t believe in myself. From a young age, I was an insecure perfectionist. I didn’t like to fail at anything, which meant I was scared to try things, especially in front of others. I was constantly overthinking and filled with anxiety.
I can think of many examples of this throughout my life. From 1st grade, where I obsessively practiced jumping rope at home so I could do well in P.E., to 5th grade, where I made my parents take me bowling the night before our school trip to the bowling alley, to middle school, where I tried to get out of going to a band competition because I didn’t think I would get a good score. This way of anxiety, overanalyzing, and perfectionism continued through high school, college, and even my adult life after graduation.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
In 2017, I was employed as a nurse at the hospital where I worked for almost two years. I wasn’t happy with my job and felt a big pull toward long-term missions. I had heard about a mission trip called the World Race; on this trip, you travel to 11 countries in 11 months. It sounded terrifying to me but also exciting. This was the first moment I realized that if I didn’t start to believe in myself, I would be unhappy, stuck in a job I disliked, and scared to do anything else. I chose to apply for the Race, not because I fully believed in myself but because I knew that if God wanted me to go, He would make it possible. And I knew it was an opportunity that had the potential to change me! I chose to push myself out of my comfort zone, knowing I might fail in the end.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Talk to yourself in a truthful and encouraging way
When I returned to America in 2018, I was all over the place emotionally and mentally. I moved to Georgia a month after coming back. At the time, I had three roommates; one I knew and two I didn’t. It was a tough several months! I was used to being around my teammates, who encouraged me and did life with me. I didn’t have a job or know what I wanted to do next. I felt God calling me back to the hospital, but I wasn’t excited to pursue nursing in that setting again.
I had struggled with anxiety and depression for several years, but it had lessened while I was on the Race. Yet, it came back with a vengeance when I returned to the States. I had changed on my trip, so I didn’t even know how to handle my mental health struggles anymore. It was only when I (1) started claiming authority over the negative thoughts and (2) began replacing them with God’s truth and encouragement that I began to believe in myself again. Practically speaking, this looked like speaking the truth aloud, writing it on a Post-It note, or reading it in a book or the Bible. It wasn’t an easy or overnight fix, but it did lead to powerful changes in my life.
2 . Surround yourself with an uplifting and honest group of people
I went on the Race with 24 other men and women. While overseas, I truly began to recognize how vital a good community is for the first time. During the 3rd month of our trip, we were doing an exercise that asked us to list our strengths or things we felt we were good at. As someone with low self-esteem, I could only think of one answer. I was honest with my team, and their response blew me away! They began to name thing after thing that they had seen in me over the last three months, many of them characteristics that I had always thought were weaknesses. When processing everything they said, I realized that I had been created on purpose for a purpose! I began to believe in myself because a group of people encouraged me.
3 . Push yourself, even if you may fail
Pushing myself, especially in areas where I know failure is possible, has been very hard for me. I am a perfectionist, and I’m not eager to fail, particularly in front of others. Around two years ago, I wanted to work for a non-profit, despite having no formal training in this area. I could have decided it was pointless to apply for any jobs, knowing there would probably be other candidates with more education or experience. Instead, I chose to take a chance and push myself out of my comfort zone… eventually, I got a job working at a non-profit that housed teen girls in the foster care system with a history of being trafficked! It took filling out many job applications and going through several interviews, essentially failing before I finally succeeded. The times I failed taught me something and gave me experience, and they helped me to believe that I could survive failure and be both strong and capable.
4 . Find a balance of work (i.e. productivity) and rest
Finding this balance is a concept I am still learning, but I know it is essential. Over the years, I’ve tried to take on more than I could handle, set too many goals at one time, and spent too much time trying to be productive. Living this way led to me being constantly overwhelmed and exhausted. I became burned out and usually quit much of what I started, leading to insecurity and anxiety, among other things. Life is more manageable as I’ve begun to find a balance between being productive and resting. I believe in myself more because I am actually able to complete goals, and I feel better doing it!
5 . Work on personal growth by looking at your past and your present
While participating in a leadership program, one of our lessons was about a tree. The tree represents each of us. The parts we can see, such as the trunk, branches, and leaves, are our present. Each of us also has roots, and they symbolize things in our past. We may not be able to see them, but they have directly influenced our present tree. Some of the roots have led to life and growth. Others have led to the death of parts of our tree. To continue growing and producing fruit (and believe in ourselves), we must stop and look at our roots. Then, we need to cut off the roots that cause death. I recommend doing this with the help of a counselor, pastor, or someone else you trust to guide you.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
I think this is two-fold. The first part is to stop comparing yourself to others, whether limiting your social media scrolling, staying away from aspects of pop culture (such as magazines, awards shows on T.V., etc.), or anything else that leads to you comparing yourself. Comparison is such a trap; the more we do it, the more the frequency and intensity increase.
The second part is to turn that self-criticism into positive self-talk. You don’t have to jump straight to positivity and compliments but work from negative to middle ground to positive. Speak those things out loud if possible, even if you don’t believe them. If you keep telling yourself the truth, you will eventually believe it. (If you don’t know what’s true and what’s not, get the help of a trusted friend or read what God has to say about you in the Bible!)
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
The biggest misconception about self-confidence and believing in yourself is that it is prideful. Being confident in yourself can be done in a very humble way. It doesn’t mean bragging or thinking you are better than someone else. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else at all!
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
The best way I have found to overcome imposter syndrome in my own life is to just “do the thing.” Put yourself out there. It’s scary, and yes, you may fall flat on your face. But you could also fly! Others may celebrate you, or you may teach someone else something from your wisdom and experiences. To make it less daunting initially, start with a small area that doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of life. When you do this, you learn that failure isn’t so detrimental after all (even if it is challenging and hurtful), and you gain the confidence to be yourself openly in larger, more critical areas.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Well, this is a loaded question! There are so many groups of people that I care deeply about and want to bring hope and light to, but I will go with my gut answer. I would inspire a movement of families choosing to foster, adopt, or both nationally or internationally. I read an article by the Administration for Children and Families in 2021 to find out some statistics. It stated, in 2020, there were 117,000 children up for adoption and 407,000 in the foster care system. While these numbers have decreased over the last three years, they aren’t going down quickly enough, in my opinion. Every child deserves to be in a safe and loving home! Every child deserves to have someone believe in him (or her) and teach him to believe in himself! If every family in America even considered adopting, that would be a step in the right direction. If each of those families attended a foster care or adoption seminar or spoke to someone who has adopted or fostered, that would be another step. I urge every person to do his research and don’t make excuses!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Oh wow, I could name so many people! My top two choices would be Dana Spinola, author of Love What You Do and founder of Fab’rik, or Kendra Adachi, author of The Lazy Genius Way and host of The Lazy Genius podcast. I read both of these books during 2021, the first full year of COVID, when I was trying to determine my next steps and figure out what I wanted my life to look like. These two awe-inspiring women inspired me in so many ways, and I would love to pick their brains further and just hang out with one or both of them!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way would be to subscribe on my blog site, but I can also be found on multiple social media platforms.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.