Growing up, I was never really that confident. It seemed that there were far too many things that a person could lack in; whether it was in sporting talent, academia or even in physical appearance. There’s so much pressure to look a certain way, and to act a certain way, that it’s sometimes difficult to see the bigger picture.
I remember a couple of years ago, before doing a mandatory speech in front of my school (ironically as a confidence boosting activity), my dad told me something that helped me greatly on the day. He reminded me that people were rooting for me. No one was out to get me as the majority would be there on the day, hoping I’d do well.
Okay, so as a child, this speech really helped me and allowed me to go through with it without running from the stage midway (even though the actual delivery was a little rushed due to nervousness). Looking back on it now, I know it’s not as simple. Sometimes there will be people who don’t necessarily want you to do well, and sometimes you must deliver or you can fail, academically for example.
However, even if everyone had wished me to fail on the day, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I did what I did because I think somewhere deep down I knew I could do it.
The reality is, no one can make you confident, despite the number of self-help books out there. They can’t make a lack of confidence miraculously disappear.
It helps to remember that everyone has some level of uncertainty. Lack of confidence may make us awkward, shy or less approachable, so people want to disguise it. This is why we cannot truly see just how many people suffer from their lack of confidence.
People have their good days and their bad days. Just last week I remember waking up knowing my day would be bad from the start, and so all the possible negative and pent up emotions became more focused. I blew a lot of my reactions out of proportion to make it all the more dramatic.
Starting my day more positively would then make me think better of myself rather focusing on the “bad” things about myself. When something goes wrong with on aspect of our lives, our work for example, we project it onto other insecurities we have. This defeats the point.
Instead of focusing on trying to improve, we impose a debilitating restraint onto ourselves.
We all have these days, but maybe instead of avoiding them or getting angry and disappointed in ourselves, we need to realise that this is just a part of life, (especially during stressful periods of university life). We do not NEED to be confident all the time.
If someone particularly feels bad about themselves, then it’s important they are surrounded by people with whom they trust, whether its friends or family.
The support we get at university is amazing. I was so nervous when starting, and whilst this didn’t take a chunk out of my confidence as much on the day because I was also super excited, I know many people who suffered from the first few weeks of university, blaming many of their struggles on themselves and their lack of confidence.
We need to learn to practice self-acceptance. Spending time doing something you know you enjoy or are good at really helps, at least for me. The times I do lack confidence, I’m determined to prove myself wrong.
Starting with self-acceptance gives us an incentive to change things for the better. Whether it’s because we wished we were thinner, larger, taller, shorter, better at managing our time at university better, or socialising more whilst here, it doesn’t matter – confidence will grow, and it’s different for everyone.
For me, doing things that slightly scare me every day really helps.
Even now, then walking somewhere, I still self-consciously imagine everyone’s looking me, but in the long run, it’s not other people that can improve your confidence (though of course I’m not denying the uses of medication, therapy or constructive courses), it’s you.
There are worst things in life that you could be lacking in. Having confidence is important, and amazing if someone has it naturally. But I will always look up to the people who developed it over time and struggled whilst doing so. Even people who are not quite there yet and have many bad days, I admire you because I’m like you and am still trying to sort things out. It sometimes feels like a breeze, other times, a gruelling process. We all have the potential to be more confident but becoming so isn’t going to happen overnight.
There’s no one solution, (and if there is, I haven’t discovered it yet), but as far as I’m aware, growing in confidence isn’t always about the destination, it’s about the journey.