A Guide to Developing Your Self-Confidence

Self-confidence can be hard to master, especially if you’re a human like me who has low self-esteem, paired with being critical and self reflective of everything I do. However, there are some things I find helpful in raising my self-confidence.

It took me a long time to realize this, but raising self-confidence requires a focus on oneself, not others. It’s hard, I know - the constant fear of others judging you and how you look can be crushing, and it has stopped me from doing things in my life. Usually just small but detrimental thoughts like, “I can’t wear this, I can’t eat that” appear when I worry about what others think of me. Self-confidence is personal though. If I feel great wearing certain clothes or having my hair a certain way, it means I should do so for that mere reason that I like it, not others. Looking in at yourself instead of out can help raise your self-confidence, and critical self reflection can become growth instead of the mind tearing itself down. Small steps instead of large ones can be what makes positive self-reflection work when your self concept thinks otherwise.

Whether you want to wear riskier clothes, get yourself to wear those shorts that you love but don’t think you can pull off, or try a new hairstyle, do it slowly. Try it on a day when you won’t have to fully go outside, to give you time to reflect on it without worrying about others judging you. It’s best to see if you’ll feel comfortable and confident in your new look. If you feel comfortable with yourself when you’re by yourself, then it’s easier to ignore the nagging self doubt when others are watching. The same can go for self-confidence in academics, or taking on new challenges. Try practicing your speeches out loud with yourself or one other person you trust.

Focus on small tasks, and it will lead to small changes. Clean your room, finish a quick homework assignment or a puzzle. Even just picking up a new hobby can raise self-confidence. By realizing you can accomplish small tasks, you can set yourself up for bigger ones. Finding new hobbies can be relaxing. Exercising can help with self-image. Doing something repetitive (like knitting, for example) can help calm the mind and lower anxiety. Taking the time to quiet your mind can help you reflect and  get to know yourself better than you ever have before.

Self-confidence can be raised when you’re trying for a new academic or professional challenge through posture. There’s a reason interview tips say to sit straight with your hands in your lap or to the side to keep yourself open. As a slouch myself, simply uncrossing my arms can help me feel more open and accepting to new challenges. Smiling can also help with having a positive mentality, which can allow you to face whatever is in store. Self-confidence is about feeling okay with yourself and about feeling prepared and capable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fail.

Gaining self-confidence is a slow process that shouldn’t be expected to happen over night. Take small steps and change to positive, self reflective thinking slowly. Self-confidence is something that can only be given by yourself, not others. If you feel comfortable in yourself that’s all that matters.