My UPFRONT Experience

Six weeks ago I embarked on Lauren Currie’s UPFRONT online course. I joined for a few reasons: I wanted a boost of energy and inspiration in this most gruelling of years; I’d seen Lauren’s content online and I wanted to learn more; and I recognised that my lack of confidence in professional settings was holding me back.

It became evident very quickly that this was going to be more than a list of tips to project confidence outwardly. This was an opportunity to reflect deeply on the experiences that shape our confidence, to make long term commitments to ourselves, and connect with a community of like-minded women.

Here are a some of the things I learned:

No woman is an island

Every confidence struggle I have shared with the UPFRONT bond (the collective noun for a group of women) has been met with kindness and solidarity, and throughout the modules and conversations I’ve been able to dig into the source of my anxieties and self-blame.

It has been immensely reassuring to know I am not alone, and that many of the under-confident behaviours I now recognise in myself (e.g. working long hours endeavouring to ‘prove myself’, apologising for making entirely reasonable requests, crossing my legs to make myself physically smaller) are part of a system of social conditioning which we are all affected by.

Confidence takes practice

Despite knowing this I don’t always allow myself the same patience with my professional skills. This course has shown me that I can conduct small experiments to test new skills, for example tweeting every day for 25 days to make publishing original content less intimidating. (Surprise surprise, it works! It’s emboldened me to write this entire post, my first long form writing on the internet since *checks notes* October 2019).

A healthy dose of perspective

Hearing their stories has been a prompt for me to reflect on all the advantages I have, and how I can use my power and my voice to elevate those who don’t share those advantages. How I can work towards dismantling sexism, racism and other forms of prejudice where I contribute to them and when I see them.

Lauren speaks often about building ladders and lifting others up by sharing what we’ve learned. This blog post is my first ladder.

Start small, start now

I’ll close with these words from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They featured in the final module of the course and resonated strongly with me:

I am experienced enough to do this.

I am knowledgeable enough to do this.

I am prepared enough to do this.

I am mature enough to do this.

I am brave enough to do this.

Enrollment for the next bond opens in January 2021. I would highly recommend signing up if you are able. The course is free for women who are on maternity leave or have no income.

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Coco Chan

Digital professional, musician, textile artist. Tweets @_crmzchan_