Feel Like Everyone Else Has Their Sh–t Together and You Don’t? Do This Now


At certain moments in life, your emotional response to a situation is so extreme – and so inappropriate for your immediate circumstances – that you have to do everything in your power to hide it. Use every ounce of strength to construct your features into a shape that would suggest that you feel the opposite of the way you actually do.

Confidence, shyness, networking

Getting broken up with by someone you’ve not been seeing for very long, that’s one.

I remember another: I’d been working at Virgin Megastores‘ in-store radio station for a few months, but I didn’t want to be there.

Having left a great job in Edinburgh, I’d moved to London because I was desperate to get work as a DJ on Xfm. I was throwing everything I could at it: networking furiously (I’d made friends with and handed my on-air demo to the big boss of the Program Controller – the guy who hired the DJs – as well as his second-in-command) and I was interning for free on the evening specialist show, X-Posure. It was a demotion for sure – at my last job, interns used to alphabetise my post and make me tea – but I was willing to do whatever it took.

I’d even helped one of my Virgin Megastores Radio colleagues get interning work there. I had better connections than him, so I didn’t see him as a threat. Besides, ever since I started in student radio, everyone told me I’d one day make it big. Surely this was my fate?

Except… it hadn’t quite been working out that way. I’d spent months slogging away, eventually applying to other stations too, only to get silence in response. Confidence, shyness, xfm, radio, networking

One evening, I was about ten minutes into my shift. I’d been asked to cover for Jon – the colleague who I’d got the interning gig on X-Posure. He stopped by to pick something up.

“Hey, erm…” he said, a little nervously. “Did I tell you why I needed you to do this shift?”
“I’ve… got a show on Xfm. The night time DJ’s off for a few days and they’ve asked me to fill in for her.”

It was genuinely one of the most devastating moments of my life.

Somehow, this seemed to confirm my worst fears: that I was wasting my time, I was never going to get a job on Xfm, I was a terrible DJ and I should give up now.

But I couldn’t show that. I barely knew this guy, and I was at the beginning of a four hour shift of talking, live on the radio, to “Over 93 Mega-Stores In The UK And Ireland!”, and I needed to hold it together.

Internally, I felt my chest was collapsing like a house of cards, but I put on a big, cheery smile.

“That’s so great!” I beamed. “Congratulations!”.

Eventually he and my boss left for the night, and I had a little cry, pulling myself together every four minutes to back-announce that I was currently playing songs from Damien Rice’s debut album ‘O‘, which you could find right now in our ‘3 for £22’ special.

(I’m glad to report the post-script, which is that Jon and I both got jobs at Xfm in the end, became and still are great friends) 

I had a similar situation – of having to contort my face into a happy one – two weeks ago. 

Confidence, shyness, costa rica, mountains, coffee, good life project, networking

I’d just arrived in Costa Rica for the first night of a retreat that was part of Jonathan “Good Life Project” Fields’ Immersion program that I’m in this year. Including faculty and staff, there were 44 of us. Among them, one epic friend, Sam (who I’d just spent five days travelling with), and a few others I’d met at Camp GLP the previous summer.

But mostly strangers. And I had to talk to them. And I was scared. Really, really scared.

If you’ve read me talking about how I feel when going to conferences, you’ll know that the reason I’m able to coach people who are terrified of networking – crippled with fear at the idea of walking into a room and starting conversations with strangers – is because it’s something I can still touch, a state of mind I still fully understand. And because I’ve learned to fake my way out of it.

Sam and I walked up the stairs to the dining hall, and she started chatting to a woman who was standing by the entrance. Like a little girl at a family party, I wanted nothing more than to cling to Sam’s skirt and make her do all the work. But then she went to the washroom… and I was alone.

As I’ve said before, history has taught me that I will eventually be fine, so I pushed on.

“Hi!” I smiled brightly at the blonde lady to my right. “Where have you come in from?”
She told me Texas, I mentioned that I have a friend in Austin, and we started chatting.

I felt sick. Actual, pit-of-my-stomach vomitous. But I pushed on.

I got up and joined the line to get a glass of water. The people in front were deep in conversation, but I noticed that the gentleman behind was also on his own. When I got to the front, I passed a glass back to him and smiled.

“Thanks!” he smiled, and introduced himself.
“When did you get here?” – and we were off.

The whole time, I felt nauseous. But I pushed on.

The thing is, if you’d been watching me, you’d never have known anything was wrong.

You’d have seen this warm, friendly, comfortable lady. Striding up to people and starting conversations with them. Asking questions to keep the chat going.

Eventually, I excused myself and went downstairs because I had a bit of work to finish up – in fact, it was last week’s blog, and the corresponding mailer. As I wrote, I felt two things:

Relief flooding through me that I was no longer with the strangers.

And a deep sense of sadness at how much I didn’t want to be there.

When I write my email to the Yes Yes Marsha Mailer Family (which you can join for free, HERE), I always put a few secret messages down the bottom for people who stick around until the end credits. That night, I debated telling them how sad I felt. But, given that I knew I’d most likely be fine the next day – but I wouldn’t be writing to them again for another week – instead, I opened a word doc and wrote this:

A few words on how I feel, three hours after arriving at Immersion.

First hour felt a bit vomitous. Was ok when fully engaged in conversation but not in between. Pushed through

Then snuck off to do some work. Rather tired and now again feel really nauseous and I wish I could work and work and work instead of having to be with people for five solid days.

Also, I know – KNOW – I’ll get over this. So I’m trying to think of myself and my feelings as this awesome science experiment I can observe. Whilst also feeling a bit panicky and desperately lonely (even though I know that makes NO sense).

The next day – after an evening meal, group bonding exercises, some decent sleep and breakfast – I felt better. I’d started to make friends. The whole group was sitting in the big hall, having a discussion about business and life. Confidence,shyness, good life project, GLP, community, networking

A conversation came up about people who look like they’re killing it in their careers and whether we can live up to that, and Jonathan said something that struck me, full in the face:


“Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”

A little later, someone else asked about what to do when you find it hard to connect with strangers. I put up my hand and said,

“I think it’s worth remembering what Jonathan said earlier, in relation to this. If you’d seen me last night after I arrived, you could have assumed that I was feeling totally confident – I was walking up to people and making conversation and chatting away.

“But for the first three hours that I was here, I literally felt like I wanted to vomit. Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”

“Don’t compare your insides to
other people’s outsides” 
– @jonathanfields


Please remember this mantra:
when you’re networking; when you’re at the gym; and – most importantly of all – when you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed. Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.

(And post-script of this story: by lunchtime the next day, I was completely ok again – and now have 43 new family members, spread across the globe:)Confidence, shyness, good life project, GLP, community, networking



Over to you

Is there a time when you’ve had to construct your face to tell a different story to the one your heart is really feeling? If so, please share that – or just what you thought of any of the above – in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading! If you know anyone who has a tendency to compare their insides with other people’s outsides, it would be RAD if you could share this with them, using one of those round buttons below. Thanks!

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha



PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo credits: Mayselgrove via Compfight cc, Katie Torrie, KC from thisepiclife.com and Liz Scully of Rethink Central


  • Abigail

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    So very very true. Thank you for sharing this- it’s always so helpful to remember. (Y) :)

  • Inspirational and dead helpful, as always! “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides” is one of my all time favorite quotes — after reading this I think I’m going to make it one of my little mantras when I’m in a situation where everyone’s all smiley and shiny-confident and I feel like the odd one out.

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Thanks, Rachel! It’s a pretty great mantra. If I was a tattoo-getter, I think I’d get a tattoo of it.

  • nasiha

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    What if pretending to be confident of a task when everyone is soo freaked out? I am also freaked out inside but i need to do sthg to comfort others. Is it the right thing to do?

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 22, 2015

      Hm, Nasiha, I hear you. I think it depends on what the task is. If it’s something where pretending you can do it but you maybe can’t could actually be dangerous – like open-heart surgery, or bomb difusal. Or even just something that could REALLY mess with your company’s relationship to a client – then maybe better to admit you’re not confident.

      But if it’s something where the stakes aren’t too high if you don’t achieve it, often pretending to be confident is very helpful to all who are around.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for asking – great question!

  • Paul Woodley

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    A few years ago my insides were in total turmoil at an event called the Radio Festival when I accidentally sat down at a table opposite a former boss who’d blighted my life, but I put on a happy face, turned to the lady on my left (a certain X-FM DJ) and we started talking and didn’t stop talking for hours! Thanks Marsha for saving my life that evening.

  • Donna Martemucci

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    Hi, Marsha…
    Wow! I felt like I was there with you and, ironically, would have thought that it would be a blast – really a fun time. Now, I realize that I, too, would have felt scared our of my mind.

    Thank you for the reality check, but, more importantly, for the reframe, for the encouragement to work through the terror and come out the other side with a genuine smile and the confidence that only this type of experience can generate!

    I appreciate you!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Thanks, Donna! And it’s one of those things where it was an absolute blast in the end, so special – but the first few hours was terrifying. I think it’s just my fate when I meet large groups of people to feel that way.

      Glad the reframe is helpful! I appreciate you right back!

  • Shannon

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    Thanks for these posts. I love reading the weekly posts you write and this one especially because its great how your very confident and I’m still shying away from talking to new people. Reading this made me think and realise that if I open up and talk to new people, new opportunities will show up and new friendships will be forged.

    Also, what are your tips to help me improve my confidence? I’d love to hear them! (Y)

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Hey Shannon!

      So glad you found it helpful. In terms of confidence, the two biggest things I’d suggest would be to read this post: yesyesmarsha.com/confidence, and to watch Amy Cuddy’s incredible and powerful TED talk, which you can here:

      Also, try and get hold of Olivia Fox Cabanne’s book The Charisma Myth – I wrote about her here: yesyesmarsha.com/boring. I think that book will be VERY helpful, because it will encourage you to look at everything like it’s a science experiment!

      Hope that’s helpful. x

  • Rachel

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    YES YES Marsha…I felt a bit vomitus too. I think that I don’t seem that way on the outside (or do I?)…but I am nervous and talking too fast and feeling shaky on the inside when I’m in new groups. I often notice that I almost mentally separate from my body, and when I check with my body, it’s in fear fight/flight mode. Then I know I’m deep in the fear. Breathing and stepping away now and again have helped me with this. Also, the self talk of: it’s only “my insides” and they don’t match the outside of me (no one knows that a scared little girl is inside me, hiding), helps me not to fear quite as much. Thanks for your honest and candid post. So many of us suffer from these fears…the more we can talk about them…we normalize them…and we realize that we are all connected. <3

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      I 100% would NEVER have guessed that you felt vomitus!

      I think that you’re right about it being flight/fear – I definitely also notice that on those rare occasions that I remember to check in. And you’re RIGHT, that we must also remind ourselves that even OUR outsides don’t match our insides xx

  • Shakirah

    Reply Reply April 28, 2015

    hey thanx Marsha i have always compared myself to other people thinking it was a way of building my confidence and to fit in and now i have realized that i was wrong so now i just feel like i can pick my battles though its a little late

  • Till

    Reply Reply April 28, 2015

    Hey Marsha,

    that was an awesome post – so vulnerable and relatable and at the same time full of helpful insights.

    What I really liked is the idea of observing oneself. According to ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) most of our problems come up because we fuse with our thoughts. It sounds pretty new-agey but there is ample scientific evidence if you teach people to rather observe themselves instead of dwelling in their thoughts and feelings they tend do feel less overwhelmed by their anxiety.

    Definitely be back for more :)

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply May 7, 2015

      Till, i LOVE this comment!!

      Part of the therapy I’m in is Sensori-Motor – which is sort of a similar thing; go into your body, feel the feelings, but don’t necessarily attach meaning to them.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Becky

    Reply Reply May 5, 2015

    I think this is a GREAT example of our emotions shaping our situation. You were there with lots of other people – the basic facts were all the same. But some of you felt fab and some felt like throwing up! Something I am just beginning to really examine….

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