Be Bold

The Writing Center staff owning it.
The Writing Center staff owning our silly side.

Confidence. It seems like confidence is a hot commodity these days — one of the constant pieces of advice I seem to receive from adults about the “real world” is that I need to own it. I need to believe in myself and hold myself with pride, knowing that I am capable. I am successful. I am the right person for the job!

It’s easier said than done.

Lately, though, confidence has come up quite a bit in my life. I never thought it would be a concept that could translate into my writing, but I recently got some feedback on my essay that made me realize just how important confidence is. The essay overall had valid points, but my professor made notes whenever I used phrases like “somewhat” or “might be” or anything that did not make a straightforward claim. He asked me why I used hedging statements; in other words, he wondered why I wasn’t owning up to my observations about the text. This was the first time I ever had someone point this out to me, but I quickly realized that this kind of writing was a habit of mine. For some reason, I was always afraid to strongly state what I meant, choosing to hide behind the “somewhats” and “might bes” in order to avoid being wrong.

Once I became aware of this habit, I took steps to change it. The next time I had a writing assignment, I let my argument speak for itself instead of excusing it with apologetic language. Honestly, it was pretty liberating. In fact, it helped me write a stronger paper, because I was no longer concerned with whether my claims were correct or not. I chose a stance, and I stuck with it until the end. This forced me to make sure that my argument was airtight, that I had sufficient evidence to back up what I was saying. Before this, I considered myself a skillful writer, but it was only after I stopped being afraid that I was able to truly believe in what I had to say.

Like I said before, confidence is an attractive trait. It draws people in, and if it shines through in your writing, it can take your reader along for the journey in a much more efficient way. Your thesis statements will be more powerful, and your supporting arguments will be much richer. All it takes is a little self-assurance, and you’re already halfway there.

So here is my challenge to you: Be bold! Take a stance with your writing. Even if you completely miss the mark, it’s better to commit to a mistake than to have one foot in and one foot out of your argument. Those who read your writing will find it much more interesting if your statements are clear and candid. Don’t be afraid to be wrong; as long as as you present it with confidence, you may will be able to convince your reader that you were right all along.