Years ago I caught part of an interview Josh Kornbluth did with Barbara Boxer on a local PBS show. Kornbluth (a Bay Area writer) was asking the congresswoman how she finds the will to keep going when people are always looking for opportunities to put down women like her, women in power.
Boxer said something like, “You need to have inner applause.”
What she meant was you can’t get hung up on your mistakes, because you’re going to make them—they’re inevitable. Women who do hard things, especially the ones in the public eye—politicians, business leaders, authors—they have to learn to cheer themselves on, even (especially!) when the trolls come out.
Sometimes, the trolls can be anonymous comments on a TIME story. And sometimes the trolls are even more insidious, because they lurk right there in our minds. They’re our own inner critics, our own yearning for perfection.
Inner applause drowns out the trolls. Inner applause is the part of you that says YOU DID FINE. NOW STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT AND GO TAKE A NICE BATH. Women in particular often need to cultivate their inner applause. (Sheryl Sandberg does a great job describing the gender confidence gap in Lean In.)
Since my book came out two months ago, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to work on this. My publisher (Seal Press) and their team of publicists have done a bang-up job getting the word out. I’ve been doing interviews almost every day since late August. (Some of the interviews can be found here.)
After every interview, I immediately think about what I did wrong.
I rambled. I didn’t talk enough. I talked too fast/slow. I should have said this instead of that. I say “um” too much. I say “like” too much. My Upstate New York accent is showing…
Many of the interviews are for blogs, regional papers, or radio shows, but there have been some big national things, too, like this (live!) satellite interview I just did with MSNBC The Cycle.* Check it out:
After it was over, I thought of a couple things I wish I’d said differently. Then I made myself watch it and realized I slouch! What’s happened to my posture? And I look so tired…which I am. But you know what? I did fine. (Cue inner applause.) And as I keep telling Ruby and Jake about learning guitar, practice is what makes you better. I hope to get more opportunities to practice soon.
And I hope that you will join me in working on your inner applause. What’s one thing you’ve done recently that you’re proud of?
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*A Note About Live Satellite TV Interviews: Here’s the thing you wouldn’t necessarily know about satellite interviews by watching them. They are REALLY WEIRD. You sit an overly air-conditioned studio, alone, with giant lights aimed at you from every direction. You have a little microphone in your ear and stare into a red light as you talk, pretending that you can see the friendly news anchors who are interviewing you when all you can see, if you dare to look down (which you shouldn’t, it makes you look shifty-eyed) is yourself, smiling inanely from the television monitor with an image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
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