The Art of Confidence in College

College campuses are like tiny little worlds of their own. Often, I think we forget about the outside world. After a few years living in tiny apartments, eating in dining halls, and falling asleep in the library stacks, the college atmosphere becomes both our lifestyle and our perspective into the world. As a college woman, I know that I am constantly achieving, achieving and making it through each week relatively unscathed. Yet, walking across campus, I still feel the heavy burden of imposter syndrome.

This feeling is all too common in my friends and classmates. The feeling that we’re constantly faking it. The feeling that we’ve made it by soley by mistake. I remember asking myself, whose spot did I take? Thinking there was no way that I could have possibly been the person that they meant to accept.  I mean, what could I possibly have to offer? What value could they possibly have seen in me? But It wasn’t until I joined a group of strong, empowered women who openly discussed imposter syndrome and the importance of cultivating confidence, that I became more confident in myself, and ultimately just more myself.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Being on a college campus, in some ways, leads to a lack of self-confidence in women. Think about it. Everyday you wake up, and take that killer weed-out chem class, work that prestigious internship downtown, read for all your classes, go the gym, and still call and check-in with your loved ones. You are thriving. It’s just, well, hard to tell. On a college campus, you are surrounded by other women who are thriving. It’s easy to feel idle. It’s easy to feel that your accomplishments don’t mean anything, because they’re simply what’s expected out of you. It’s easy to forget that by virtue of being on a college campus in the first place makes you, you are an achiever. And that you are surrounded by achievers every single day.

 

But most importantly, it’s easy to forget that their achievements do not detract from yours. That someone else’s success does not invalidate yours.  

 

We have to pause to ask, ourselves are we holding ourselves back? Imposter syndrome leads to a lack of self-confidence, and self-doubt, lack of self-confidence leads to a lack of progress. What’s most important in our 20s, we is learning to cultivate the confidence that causes our feet to move forward. Here are a few ways to practice the skill of accepting yourself and your validity:

 

1. Write Out Your Resume from Scratch

Okay, here me out. Once every few months (or at least once a semester), you should take the time to write out your resume from scratch. Make a day out of it. Treat yourself to a nice breakfast, take your laptop with you to a cafe, get a latte, and do it. Write down everything that you’ve done, and everything you’ve got in the works. Throughout this process, you really have to reflect on the progress you are making, the changes you are enacting, and the qualifications that you have to succeed. Writing your resume requires you to come up with real world examples of the greatness that is you. You have to sell yourself, and to sell yourself, you have to believe in yourself. Then, once the coffee cup is empty and you’re finally done, you have a list of achievements to feel proud about, and a recently updated resume that you can go out and land your next big gig with. This will not only make you feel confident, and empowered, but will remind you of your progress and maybe even lessen your stress load.

 

2. Go on a Social Media Cleanse

 

Not a fast, but a cleanse. Clean up your social media feed. If you continuously find yourself scrolling through instagram on the bus, and feeling totally self-conscious after seeing #takemeback posts by a past high-school acquaintance, then unfollow her. If somehow you’ve found yourself with a feed full of depressing, self-deprecating posts, then clean-out chunks of blogs you don’t quite recognize. If every time you log onto Facebook, and immediately feel upset that you didn’t get the same internship as that one friend of yours, then mute their posts. In fact, just unfollow every source that does not add value to your life. It’ll make it easier to see the good stuff anyway. Take control of the media you consume, and you’ll take control of the effect it has on your life. If you start off every morning, with a quick social media “check-up” on the status of the world via the lens of social media, then you are bound to be set-up for failure. Social media is a way of putting your best self forward. It’s about crafting an image of yourself that you want employers and ex-boyfriends to see. When used healthily it can be a great tool for building self-confidence, but mindless scrolling without consciously reminding yourself that people are not perfect at all times is severely detrimental to your self-esteem. Greater theme here? Don’t compare yourself at your worst, to others at their best.

 

Take control of the media you consume, and you’ll take control of the effect it has on your life.

 

3. Leave Numbers in Calc

We like numbers. Numbers have value. You did “good” means a lot less, than a grade on an assignment. Numbers have already made their case for their usefulness in society. While it’s true that numbers have value, when did we decide that numbers determine our value? For college women, so much of our self-appraisal is tied back to a few numbers: our GPA, our test scores, our weight, our ranking, the amount of hours we sleep every night, the amount of money in our bank account. We get caught up in these numbers. We give these numbers more power than they deserve. A few ways that I’ve implemented this philosophy in my life are: not leaving my scale out where it is easily accessible and in plain-sight all the time, not checking up on the status of my grades on the weekend, giving myself time to grieve small setbacks, but actually timing it and moving forward when the alarm goes off. Numbers only control our life when we allow them too. When we get too caught up in the bad side of things, we forget all of our good qualities that make us who we are.

 

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

 

4. Try New Experiences

You are too smart and important to continue doing the same things every day. Don’t allow a fear of not being instantaneously the best at something keep you from starting. Don’t let uncertainty keep you from finding out. Starting a new hobby, taking on a new project, or even going somewhere new are all experiences that make you a better person. They make you more interesting, more diverse, but they also give you a better list of skills and qualifications. Make a list of all of the things you’ve wanted to try. Ask yourself questions, and let yourself respond honestly, out loud (the answers might surprise you). Ask yourself:

 

If I could go anywhere right now, where would I go?

Plan your dream itinerary and start a plan to make it happen.

If I had to take up a new hobby, what would I want to do with my free time?

Find a class.

If I could have one more thing on my resume before I apply to my dream job, what would it be?

Find a mentor who can teach you.

What is one thing I can’t graduate college without doing?

Do it. (For me, it was learning how to ride the bus).

 

Don’t pass up  yourself from seeking out opportunities to better yourself and expand your worldview.

 

5. Prioritize Yourself and the Things You Actually Care About

Take out your Google Calendar, I’ll wait. Find one thing on it, that you are dreading going to, and are only attending out of obligation. Delete it. Flip to next week. Same drill. In the empty space that you now have, add a new event, “self-care,” and make this an actual event in your life. Far too often, our organizations, gen-ed classes, and general responsibilities eat up every second of free time that we have. Which leaves nothing for us. It’s hard to walk out and convey confidence when you haven’t had time to really spend with yourself. Just like you wouldn’t vouch for that one kid in your French class who you’ve never spoken to, you can’t really sell yourself if you aren’t spending any time with yourself. Relationships take time, effort, and deliberate care. Your self-relationship needs nurturing too. Each week, start your Sunday with the idea that you will do one less thing. Take one thing off your schedule every week, and use it to sleep, to paint your nails, to catch up on Gilmore Girls. If one thing comes to mind at the start of the week, take it off even for the sake of just taking it off. You don’t need to water a dead garden. If something isn’t benefiting you, or giving you any happiness then it is dead flower. You deserve roses. Use this time to find things that you are passionate about, and use that resume to go after them.

 

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Self-confidence is a skill, and like any skill it gets rusty after awhile. And also like any skill, it is something that can be cultivated and honed into a strength. Imposter syndrome is a plague on college campuses, The solution? To be too focused on yourself. Don’t allow the others and their accomplishments to bring you down. To dive head-first into loving, and accepting yourself, and to come-out knowing more about yourself and feeling more authentic in your own shoes. Confidence does not come easy, and it does not come without intentionally choosing to pursue it. Pursue it, leverage it, and cultivate it. By cultivating confidence to combat insecurity, you are choosing to love yourself. By choosing to love yourself, you are choosing to improve yourself. By improving yourself, you are moving beyond those feelings of inadequacy.the problem of women on college campuses of feeling inadequate due to their environment.

We may be a product of our environment, but we’re rebranding.