When Jovan Goodman saw the cover design of her first published book “The Confidence Continuum,” about growing confidence in young girls, she had to make an adjustment.
The illustration was of a woman, at the top of the stairs, pulling a young girl up from the bottom. She told her publisher to illustrate the adult in the middle of the staircase because being at the top signaled that the woman had reached her goals.
“Confidence is not a destination, it is a journey,” the Milwaukee native told Madison365. “That is really the secret; we have a lot of programs that say ‘confidence is this and not this. And it is linear. And it is black and white.’ And I think we need to be honest and transparent that it is a journey and continuum. Adults aren’t even there.”
After the book’s release in January, the day before Kamala Harris became the first Black woman vice president, it sold 500 copies in a single month.
The book is based on Goodman’s professional career as an advanced practice social worker (APSW), her global travels in South Africa and experience as a leader of a confidence class for girls 6-12 years old that she created five years ago in Milwaukee.
The book has 13 activities that build on one another, and can be used as an independent workbook or in a group setting.
Goodman did not hold a confidence class this last year because she wanted take time and create the book and with the pandemic she couldn’t meet in person. In 2019, however, the class was made up for 13 sessions, and Goodman said the students wanted to keep coming back.
“The class just became magical,” she said. “You would visually see the change in the girls and an increased level of confidence.
“Girls that started the class would go from not talking at all, to then talking, and taking initiatives and being the first one to start the confidence walk,” she later added. The confidence walk (below) is a signature activity in her class built from her modeling career, where girls do a runway-style walk and express an affirmation.
The narrative of the book is about awareness, tools and community.
First, the book tries to bring awareness around confidence and encourages girls to connect with how they are feeling, then it provides tools and resources for girls, and lastly encourages community and relationships. She said there are pieces of African heritage and culture in the book, adding that curriculum is not often built with Black girls in mind.
Goodman said she hopes the book allows girls to feel heard and realize that they don’t have to order what’s on the menu, that confidence can be a chef special created just for them, she said.
“There is one activity in the book that really gets them in touch with what their own confidence recipe is,” she says. “It really honors that individuality and that uniqueness that we don’t talk about much in confidence.”
“‘People think confidence is being like [former First Lady] Michelle Obama or being like this person but [a confidence recipe] really honors this idea there is more than one way to make a cake. I might put something in mine that you don’t put in yours. That makes us unique depending on what we put in it.”
Goodman emphasized that everyone goes through their own confidence journey. Some days people wake up confident, and other days they don’t, she said.
“I still have those moments because I train and coach social workers on an international platform. There are times when I think I’m this little Black girl from Milwaukee, who am I to get on this platform and get in front of 200 people around the world? And I’m telling them how to do their job. There are moments where I have this imposter syndrome, too,” she said.
But, she added, confidence is all about self-love.
“There are things that we can do to have self-care, but self-care is not self-love,” she said. “I can get my nails done and I can wear this confident outfit and although that can impact me at the end of the day I can meet myself without those things.”
Her ultimate goal is to reach 1 billion girls from all around the world, she said.
Goodman and another author Ola Summers will host a Facebook live “Books and Cooks” event on March 27. Goodman will talk about her book, and make peanut chicken, an Indigenous West African dish.
“The Confidence Continuum” can be found on Amazon and Target. For information, visit jovangoodman.com.