, , , , ,

Being a highly sensitive introvert by nature, confidence has always been a huge personal struggle for me, especially through the 12-16 years. Body image is an issue I could (and shall) write an entire separate post on. But in terms of overall confidence, in both appearance and respect for my self-worth, I’d like to say I’ve reached a point where I love who I am enough to not want to be anyone else. At the very least, I am miles ahead of the girl I was when I stepped into grade 7. It took me 18 years to reach this point, but I can say I’m proud of it.

Everyone struggles with confidence for different reasons. It’s a tricky thing to master. Being so down on yourself all the time is not an attractive or healthy trait, and can sometimes be considered as attention-seeking. I played that role for most of my life; I know exactly how hard it is to not be such a harsh self-critic. It takes a lot of time and many outside factors to gain self-esteem. On the other hand, there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. As with everything else in life, it’s all about balance.

So what can an average person do to make themselves feel a little more confident?

  1. “Act the way you want to feel.” (Gretchen Rubin). The phrase “fake it ’till you make it” actually has a lot more power and meaning than meets the eye. It is scientifically proven that we are capable of tricking our mind into feeling how we want. For example, smiling physically enhances happiness levels, even if it was a forced or fake smile. Listening to sad music will put us in a more down mood, whereas listening to pump-up songs will motivate action. Despite being tired and running off no sleep, if we act energetic, we truly do become more energetic. The same goes with confidence.
  2. Take on leadership roles. I’d always enjoyed being involved but taking on a leadership role with kids changed my life. It was the first time anyone had ever looked up to me; it was the first time I felt respected and important. I had a group of 9 year olds who looked to me as someone worth learning from. It was flattering and it was the first time I started to see myself in a better light.
  3. Accept compliments. One of my top pet peeves happens to be people who deny compliments. Putting that annoyance aside, taking compliments to heart just makes life better. Even if you don’t agree with the compliment, just smile, say ‘thank you’, and feel happy and flattered.
  4. Surround your living/work space with inspirational images/ quotations. There is a magazine clip-out hanging in my room called “Beauty Peace Treaty”. It reminds me to treat my body nicely– something I haven’t always done. I know a few other friends who have similar reminders stuck on their mirrors. I also have a page of celebrity quotes on body image bookmarked. Inspiration and role models are different for everyone, so find what strikes a cord with you and make sure you don’t forget it.
  5. Do what it takes to make yourself feel beautiful. Some people may only feel confident behind a coat of make-up and Abercrombie jeans, and that’s okay. It’s okay if you want to make time to style your hair every morning or spend a little more on that Aritzia coat. Put in as much or as little effort as you want, just so long as you can walk out the door feeling sexy.
  6. Remember that people don’t notice you nearly as much as you think. When we look at pictures of ourselves, the first thing we notice is how we look. Everyone does it. In a group photo, our eyes will gravitate immediately towards our face, then we will proceed to make a judgement on the quality of our appearance. The thing is, because everyone is doing this, people don’t actually pay an enormous amount of attention to how everyone else looks. That tiny pimple that was so visible in the mirror actually may not be so visible to outsiders. Often, I catch myself complaining about a minor appearance flaw (i.e. my eyes are swollen, my forehead is red, etc.) only to have others state that they didn’t even notice.
  7. Do it for yourself. Do not ever wait for someone else to come along and make you feel confident, especially a significant other. I would argue that the most productive periods of personal growth come from the single times. (So why have relationships? Because personal growth can be taxing and stressful and relationships make life easier and happier). Take in the compliments and keep all existing relationships strong, but find personal goals and work for your own gain. Start a club. Take dance classes. Join choir. Confidence is not to impress, but to gain a deeper and healthier connection with the self. Only then can attraction radiate because only then can good impressions be genuine.