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The College Diaries: Crafting Confidence & Self-Esteem

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Confidence is abstract. It is intangible. Different people have different levels of confidence. How should you go about finding yours? The truth is, it all depends on perspective.

I’m in my third year of college, in the second semester. Many of my closest friends describe me as outgoing and bold. They say, “Julia tells it how it is.” I agree with this statement. I am a confident person (when I want to be). I approach social challenges with little fear, meaning I can start conversations with strangers. I’ve approached people intending to be friends. I’ve also approached people with romantic interest. I have the confidence to do many things alone. I am eating out alone or showing up places alone. To many people, finding comfort in independence is quite the opposite. It’s uncomfortable. Many friends ask me, “How the hell can you do that?” It seems totally out of reach.

Well, of course, it has taken practice. And a lot of mistakes. And failed attempts. Putting yourself out there is vulnerable, and when you get rejected, it can be embarrassing. I continue to face challenges every day and get rejected. It sucks, yes. It’ll hurt your ego temporarily. But it’s all about your mindset. 

Your environment can dictate a lot of your self-confidence and identity. If you surround yourself with unhappy and unlucky people, you are far more likely to be just as miserable. These people tend to complain a lot and their unhappiness and dissatisfaction shows. You need to surround yourself with people who uplift you. Base your friendships on trust and love, not jealousy or competition. The best types of people are those who get excited about your accomplishments, not failures. My aunt often tells me to continue leveling up. She says, “If you continue to level up in life, you will continue to meet high-quality people.” The more you put time into yourself and stop making excuses, you’ll be in a better environment. Surround yourself with hardworking people who give little excuses and make the most out of life.

Once I entered college, something inside me changed. I felt like I could fully flourish. I adapted this attitude about life and self that stuck. I’ve come to see the world through a new lens: You are in control of your life, your thoughts, your actions, the clothes you wear and the places you go. 

A lot of insecurity comes from caring about what others think. However, you need to realize that this is actively setting you back. Think about the last time you did something embarrassing. Have you ever tripped over a curb or the uneven pavement on your way to class? You either laughed it off or anxiously looked around to see who saw you stumble. And that right there is precisely what I’m talking about: you have a choice.

“The thing about confidence is no one knows if it’s real or not.”

Maddy Perez — Euphoria

In high school, I chose to keep to myself. I chose to stay within my comfort zone with my close friends and family. I didn’t see the point in certain things, like putting myself out there. In college, I actively choose to be confident. I choose to wear what I want, say how I feel, and just be honest. I choose to be my raw, authentic self. People who live their lives afraid of rejection are missing out on so many opportunities. You’re golden once you realize that the type of person you want to be is achievable. The only way to allow growth is to put yourself in uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. This mindset will set you free.

I want to give you an example of a time I was confident. I was with my girlfriends for a night out, wearing this red sparkly set, and I felt fabulous. I went to order a drink at the bar and noticed the bartender. My friends immediately told me, “He’s cute; you should go for it!” So I did. I politely waved him down and asked for his number. What happened next? He laughed and proceeded to walk away.

Now, I know what you’re thinking … that’s horrible! That’s embarrassing! That makes me never want to approach another person! But I don’t see it that way. If anything, I just brushed it off and continued with my night. Because I chose not to let it affect me. I chose to socialize with other people at the bar. I decided to have a fun night, regardless.

Another time I approached a guy, and it ended up going well. I asked for his number, and we went on several dates. I had a great time with him! So that goes to show it wasn’t personal with the guy at the bar. I simply laughed it off! You cannot take things personally or obsess over situations. You have a choice. 

Ladies, now I ask that we actively choose to step out of our comfort zone. Start small. Set realistic goals. Continue to trust the process and see the good in discipline. Invest in self-care. Get involved at school and build your resume. Focus on becoming a well-rounded person. Also, read self-help books on confidence from clinical psychologists! After all, this is just my take on confidence as a 21-year-old who is still navigating the world.

Julia Norton

U Mass Amherst '25

Julia Norton is a senior at UMass Amherst majoring in Economics with a minor in English. She is very excited to be a part of Her Campus and connect with the other young women in the UMass chapter. Along with writing, she enjoys reading, painting with watercolors, yoga, and watching movies.