I've been taking an ECDL course (European Computer Driving Licence) to brush up on my computer skills. When I was at school, I hated IT lessons and felt intimidated by it all, terrified I'd somehow break the computer and/or shut down the entire school network. I was more confident when we got a computer at home and I had time to potter about and experiment without fear of embarrassment, but all of the college and university work I did on the computer was on Word — I was still terrified of spreadsheets.
Hence the course, which I'm taking primarily to show potential employers that I'm not a complete technophobe. Ironic, since I spend far too much time online! However, the course's major impact has been improving my confidence. I passed the Excel module two days ago, scoring 97% and got top marks for the formulas and functions section, which had intimidated me the most!
I experienced a similar feeling when I learnt to drive: I wasn't naturally good at learning the skills, so I worked hard until I got to the required standard. I think the main factor in increasing my confidence was the level of pressure I was under — I wanted to do well, but I knew it would take a lot of work. Whenever I got something wrong, I just shrugged and tried harder to solve the problem.
If only I had that approach to my writing and academic courses! Instead, every failure is a crushing disappointment and every success is disregarded because I expect to do well. Okay, so I've learnt to temper these responses in recent years, but my initial, impulsive reaction is the same. I'm trying to be kinder to myself, but in the meantime, improving my skills in other areas helps me gain confidence and perspective.