Ever since I was a child, I've worried. About everything. But now that I've grown into my 30s, one of the things I no longer have to worry about is what others think of me...
But let's begin at the beginning, shall we?
My confidence, growing up, was not strong. I was an only child who clung to her mother, and often got through each day having to face around 20-odd worries I'd conjured up in my head before even arriving at the school gates.
I was quiet, shy and reserved as a result. This affected my relationships with other kids, and I'd often use my imagination to make up for it.
As a teenager, I began to get overly-conscious of my body. I was still not at all confident, wouldn't really talk to anybody about my problems and was very introverted. I became anorexic and most likely depressed (although never diagnosed) as a result.
But the one thing I never had a lack of confidence in was my writing.
When I was 19, I ran a college magazine for a while. As a journalism student, I took the initiative of heading down to the student union on my own and meeting with the then-editor, and student president (a very mature student called Bill).
After a while of contributing, he made me editor of the college magazine - the Telford Tatler. You'd think that as journalism students, the rest of my class would have been eager to get involved, and thrilled at the opportunity.
But no; most of them wanted very little to do with me, as one older, very brash student deliberately picked on and bullied me. She was popular, so much of the rest of the class just kind of fell in line. I was left to do most of the work myself, with the odd contribution from classmates.
As I grew into my 20s, things gradually changed. I got my first job as a reporter at a newspaper (they hired me because they liked me and thought I'd fit into the culture), and my first novel was published in 2008.
I developed more confidence interacting with the public. I grew into my weird imagination - helped a lot by watching shows like The Mighty Boosh that actively encouraged it.
Mind you, I still had a lot to learn; I was still all too happily getting stepped on and pushed around by older men, however. I've been guilty of putting relationships first before myself and my own career/well-being/needs.
Looking back, I still only consider myself to be half a person in my early-to-mid 20s.
I always say that the older I get, the more intolerant I become of men and their s***. That's definitely been true so far. But I used to find myself going along with just about anything people demanded of me when I was a lot little lamb - particularly, but not limited to, men.
Okay, so we've got to the story I just felt like I had to share.
As a woman now in her 30s, and confidently running a successful business, I don't have time for lurgy. But lurgy has plenty of time for me.
So, coughing and spluttering and making my way to the office, I managed to fudge the carefully-applied foundation on my chin ahead of an important business meeting with some prospects.
Since my office is just along from ye olde Boots, I just decided to make my way over there (as you do) and maybe purchase some facial cleansing wipes and a concealer or some such. Only to get accosted by a lady selling a popular makeup brand.
Having asked what brought me into the shop today, I replied with the bare, honest truth. She immediately whisked me off to the makeup counter, told me to have a seat, and introduced me to a very young beauty technician.
She immediately said she'd get me fixed up. Now, normally I don't let *ANYONE* touch my makeup, but since this was important and I might as well, I allowed it. But said "only my chin".
She proceeded to start taking the makeup off my cheeks and the rest of my face. When asked why, she claimed she was "only removing the excess".
You're messing with the face of someone who had carefully applied serum, day cream, foundation, concealer and a setting spray. Of someone who finds a lot of confidence in this defence shield.
But alright. I felt okay about it. She was *fixing me up*.
After removing "only the excess" makeup, the young girl immediately started applying moisturiser and primer to my face. This quickly became very confusing, but I rolled with it... for some reason.
The foundation came next, then the concealer and powder.
When I looked in the mirror, I looked like a caked-up, five-layer, cosmetic separation nightmare. She said she thought I looked "fine". I asked her if she really couldn't see the problem: "Nope".
Oh my days.
I got her to remove everything and start again. Again, it began to turn into a cakey mess. Again, she failed to see the problem.
Eventually, this led to me doing my own makeup in the mirror, very carefully blotting in and blending every single line or smudge, and hiding every pore - and her looking on.
"Oh wow! That looks SO much better!"
"I know, right."
So, back to the whole confidence thing.
If this had been me even just a few years ago, I might not have had the confidence to speak out and say I looked terrible. I probably wouldn't even have looked at myself properly in the mirror to even be able to tell - instead just glancing, or pretend to glance, before saying it was fine.
And I definitely would not have had the ability to eventually take the tools out of her hands and do my own makeup to ensure I looked half decent for my meeting.
I most likely would have shuffled away, and then quietly bought some face wipes and makeup bits so I could do my own face in peace - costing me quite a lot extra.
And it got me wondering... how many people would have argued with her?
Now, in my 30s, I find that actually, I can just be me. Confidently. And with ease.
I *CAN* say what I really think, and I can say it without giving a toss about what people think of that, or how it might be taken.
And it's still a shock to me that people seem to accept me for me, and listen to me, and *want* to follow me - whether I'm leading a team or just starting something social.
But I'm so glad I've been able to turn into the human I am now - not everyone gets that chance.