I used to be the girl that was overly critical about my appearance, from the way my hair looked, to what the scale said, to the way my hair fell – each day brought a different self-loathing insult. I didn’t express my opinion in fear of backlash, and I worried too much about what people thought about me. It felt like the norm, that these things were what I was supposed to do as a woman: critique until perfect. However, throughout my years at Furman, something within me changed. I cared a lot less about the “norm.” I started to compliment myself more. I started expressing myself and my opinions more, and I started to care a lot less about what everyone around me thought. For once, I was confident and comfortable with myself. With this discovery came the unnerving fact that people do not like confident women. Which leads me to today’s topic: being confident in oneself should not be frowned upon by society and especially by other women.
Of course, we should not care what others think, but the intent of this article is to point out the huge problem with how society treats people who are confident in themselves. Whether someone posts a selfie where she feels confident or someone updates LinkedIn with a new job she has been offered – people always have something negative to say or a negative thought to add. More times than not, the thoughts are “wow, she’s so conceited” or “wow, she just wants attention” when in reality – we should be allowed and encouraged to celebrate ourselves. All the work put in to be confident in one’s appearance to the work put in to obtain a job is something to be celebrated. The ability to freely express one’s opinions, even if it does not meet the “norm,” is something to be celebrated. Expressing yourself should not be something others, especially other women, pick apart.
Navigating life is hard enough as it is and us women should take the time to reframe the mindset we may have about how we perceive another woman’s confidence. Instead of making fun or criticizing a woman’s post,outfit, or thought – change the narrative to cheer her on for being confident in her beliefs, her style, and her mind.
As I have navigated my own experience with confidence, I have found people love to talk about what I am doing, what I am posting, and who I am overall as a person – just as I have done in the past with others. Friends, unintentionally, have tried to simmer me down when I am excited about a job or a situation that happened in my life. It’s not their fault, rather it has been the norm to discuss what other women are doing and not always in a positive way. However, it needs to end. That negative energy truly impacts only the person who is spending their time focusing on the lives of others, when it could be spent on improving their own self-confidence.
Again, I will always say I am not perfect, and I have definitely condemned self-confident women before. Rather than feeling guilt about previously partaking in criticism, I now strive to make my mindset toward other women graceful. I choose to focus on how much strength and courage it takes women to celebrate themselves even if their opinions, beliefs, or posts do not align with my own values. If we all focused more on that than on bringing confident women down, confident women would be the expectation rather than the exception.