I recently came across a gorgeous photo published by Hello! which showcased a recent meeting of Europe’s royal heirs who had gathered in the Netherlands to talk about… Um… Inheriting crowns?
While it’s undoubtedly impressive to see so many future monarchs in one place, the most amazing part of this photo to me is in the body language of several of the women who were present.
I’ve learned that when you gather any group together there will always be a social hierarchy. Whether it’s in the schoolyard or at a work event, there are going to be very clear roles being played by people. It surprised me somewhat though to see this photograph because one typically assumes that the “Princess”role automatically brings with it a certain aspect of confidence… But evidently not for all.
The most startling example is that of Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg. In the image above, she’s on the far left wearing an ill-fitting pink dress with sleeves that are so long they entirely cover her hands. Sleeves so long remind me of being an awkward teenager not quite fitting into clothes properly. She’s also slouching her shoulders and angling her head – she is obviously the newest, and most nervous, member of this exclusive club. Even more surprising was that I discovered that Princess Stephanie is one of only 2 spouses of a European heir whom actually came from nobility themselves.
Princesses Letizia easily appears to be the most at ease. Perhaps by virtue of having been a Princess for a long time, but she is clearly displaying a confidence which is suitable for a future Queen. Princess Maxima also looks quite confident, although close inspection shows her angling one of her feet in, which is often a sign of nerves. She is also camouflaging herself in a rather large (and odd) sweater coat. Princess Victoria of Sweden looks the most happy, at ease and yet still is the only one reaching back to hold onto Prince Daniel. She is the only female heir at this meeting, so she could be compensating for that.
We could spend hours (and surely someone will) going into all of the details, but Princess Stephanie clearly needs some help at not looking out of place in these meetings in the future. When I was first starting out in Finance, I was a Financial Advisor who recommended investments (Mutual Funds, Stocks, Bonds, etc.) to wealthy clients. I was very young at the time I took over a multi-million dollar portfolio and extremely nervous as the wealthy clients I was dealing with were easily older than my parents. I was lucky that I had an older female colleague to took me under her wing and taught me a valuable lesson: if I ever wanted to have clients bring in lots of money to me and trust my investment decisions, then I needed to look and act the part. I dyed my hair brown, wore glasses, bought suits and stopped wearing all pink. I made a concerted effort in the office to look 5-10 years older than I was. But the most important part of my transformation was that I acted the part of confident advisor. I knew what I was doing, but I needed to go over the top on confidence as part of that role as investing people’s money is a big decision for them.
So am I telling you to not be yourself? No. The rest of the story goes as follows- over the time I did that job I eventually found myself not having to fake the confidence anymore. It was innate and something that just came out of my mouth without thinking about it. I also found myself going back to my blonde hair and wearing more youthful clothes because I had grown confident in myself, my abilities and didn’t have to “fake it” anymore. I had “made it”.
So how can you “fake it ’til you make it”? I wrote about getting self-confidence like Kate previously, but here are my tips on “fakin’ it”:
- The key is to figure out what exactly you think you would need in your specific situation to feel more confident. For me in Finance, it was being older than I was so people would think I had more experience and trust my decisions more easily. For Princess Stephanie, it might be having been a Princess for a longer period of time. You just need to figure out why you don’t feel confident and if you could magically get one thing to help, what would that one thing be.
- Once you’ve figured out what that one thing is, you need to figure out how to fake it. Perhaps it’s putting on a pair of glasses and changing your hair color to look more serious. Perhaps it would be wearing an outfit you feel amazing in for a meeting of other Princesses. When you walk into a situation feeling confident, it’s easy to keep up the guise. For me, it was putting on a specific pair of tortoiseshell glasses that became my “crutch” as I always felt confident when I had them on.
- Even if you’re shaking in your boots, don’t let anyone know. Be outgoing, friendly, positive and be sure of yourself. You’ll find that having the confidence in yourself means others will be attracted to speaking with you and surrounding you and it will become easier and easier to adopt your new persona more regularly and without effort. If you struggle with this, start in a small and comfortable setting – like at a family dinner where you try out your new “persona” in a safe space.
- Lastly, do this over and over again until you don’t even have to plan out what you’re going to say, wear or do. You can let go of your “crutch” and you’ll find yourself open to new opportunities.