Thanks to our partner Suncorp and their Team Girls program.
We spoke to Sarah Wills and Lise Carlaw, Host of Early Breakfast 5-6am weekdays across Australia and Co Hosts of the HIT 90.9 Gold Coast Breakfast 6-9am weekdays with ‘Lise, Sarah, Dan and Ben, and asked them to share their reflections on developing confidence as a teenager.
I’ve always been my own person. Always.
From a young age, peer pressure just seemed to leapfrog straight over the top of me – so sure was I in my choices and decisions (okay, fine – let’s disregard the Overwhelming Permed Fringe of ’92). Ultimately, this confidence is due to my parents, who built it up in two ways.
- First, a safe and happy family life. Even now at 39, it’s a comfort to know if I stuff-up, they’ll love and support me. (But with plenty of sprays along the way!)
- Second, a sense of humour – teasing, heckling, and laughing was our love language. I truly believe no one can laugh at me more than I do at myself (actually, maybe Lise can) – and without word of a lie, this has been an absolute blessing when it comes to self-confidence.
For example, at the end of Year 11 we moved from regional Queensland – where I’d attended a co-ed college – to Brisbane. It meant Year 12 at a flash all-girls’ school. (And you can always tell a fancy school by how foul the uniform colour combo is, can’t you?). Anyway, wow. It was a whole different ball game – and I loved it.
Now a couple of months in, I politely asked Mum to please-oh-pretty-please buy me a pair of RM Williams boots like the city girls wore, as sketching the Stussy ‘S’ on Dunlops didn’t seem to be de rigueur. Instead, she rocked home with a pair of eucalyptus-scented hiking boots. I kid you not. And did I hide the box under a bed? Nope. Stomped around in those mustard-yellow clodhoppers so often people probably thought I was involved in an illicit affair with a koala for the duration of 1997.
And when it was time to go to university, it was Mum who assured Dad they were doing the right thing letting me study theatre. Dad – ever the introverted pragmatist – worried about my future, getting a steady job, hanging with a ‘bunch of weirdos’…when surely it would be much more sensible to teach, nurse, or police? Yet…he always came to my plays.
Many years pass – not working in the Arts. Corporate roles. Maternity leaves. But then at age 36, a surprise career twist into radio, and my parents both tuned in. Afterwards, the phone pinged with a text from Mum, who’s a retired teacher. ‘You did very well, Sar, but you can do even better. I know what you’re capable of: A-. XO’
Right there, that’s my confidence.
Here’s what I know for sure. My confidence is my super-power.
Intrinsic from a young age, it led me to have a crack at all kinds of things. In primary school – a chair in the Western Suburbs String Orchestra; a spot on the ‘Jump Rope for Heart’ squad; the school captaincy badge. In my teens – holding the college’s public speaking title and rocking a five-Velcro-strap back brace that often had me pinned to the school bus’s velour seats. Did I nail all of these? Absolutely not, given I didn’t always possess the required proficiencies. I lasted a semester in the district band – a violin virtuoso I was not. Never mastered the crisscross double-under but Nikki Taylor did, so she made the skipping team instead of me. But I was elected as School Captain in 1992, and can confirm I made scoliosis rad in ’95. What mattered though, was that I’d been bold enough to try. I wasn’t a lone wolf in my optimism and self-belief, though. I had a pack. My parents, my older sister, my grandparents, my uncle, my very best friends. The extrinsic forces in my life that told me I counted. That my contributions were valid. That I could. Ever-present with their positive encouragement. Never praise for the sake of blowing smoke. All shining examples of what hard work and backing yourself can yield.
As an adult, my self-esteem remains my true north. I’ve travelled the world on my own, worked abroad on a whim, lived alone, lived with thirteen strangers in a three-level house in Singapore, rubbed shoulders with people I’d never dreamt of being in the same stratosphere as. But I’ve always held my own, confident in my instincts, rarely doubting myself and just going for it. It’s possibly what I’m proudest of, in this, my fortieth year. There is no greater gift, this super-power of mine, and it’s one that’s allowed me to dream big and chase hard since I was a small girl. (Watch your back, Nikki Taylor. My skipping rope and I are coming for you…)
Business Chicks and Suncorp Team Girls have teamed up to bring you the Business Chicks of Tomorrow content series. We want to equip parents, carers and families with the tools they need to build meaningful connections with their teen and tween girls, in order to build their confidence, strengthen their mental health and overcome difficult circumstances. We want to encourage the next generation of girls to feel positive, confident, empowered and ready to face what the world throws at them, knowing they have the right support behind them.
For more information on how Suncorp is helping to build a nation of confident girls, visit the Team Girls website.