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6 Daring Women Reveal Where They Find Their Confidence
A half-dozen intrepid souls tell us where they get the guts to take the stage, swim the high seas, save people's lives—or even raise two kids alone.
provocateur
The Provocateur
Emily Yoffe
57, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Occupation: Author of Slate magazine's "Dear Prudence" column

What sparks her mettle: Causing a stir

"An advice column is many things: counsel, entertainment, a little bonbon of the human condition. For me, the columnist, it's a forum in which I have to state my opinion and stand by it. My goal is to give a genuine response—I want to be honest, not obnoxious. But I do have some provocative answers, and when I do, I admit to thinking, 'This will be fun.' I inherited that slightly perverse quality—enjoying riling people up—from my father, who had a great sense of bravado. When he entered a room, you knew it. I strive to emulate that, to put on a face that makes people want to be on my team. But if people disagree with me, so be it. It's a particularly female trait to go through life thinking, 'I will avoid criticism by doing everything perfectly.' That just sets you up to feel devastated when criticism inevitably comes. I try to keep a distance between me and how I react to things. If someone doesn't like something I say, it isn't the destruction of my existence on this Earth."