Confidence is always a touchy subject. I myself have always been uncomfortable with talking about it because I was so unfamiliar with it and so afraid of it. However, earlier this year right before I turned 20 I decided I wanted to get more comfortable with the topic of confidence, so let’s talk about it!
Looking back at my teenage self (ah yes-a mere 6 months ago) I think I was under the misconception that confidence was always physical. And sure, confidence is partly physical, but there is so much more to it.
I think I started to question what confidence meant when I was constantly stressed about what my boyfriend was doing and who he was with (sorry Ty). We would get really frustrated with each other because I always had so many questions and he didn’t understand why they were always so important to me. I started to realize that maybe he had a point, I didn’t really understand why I was asking them myself, and why I cared as much as I did.
As I pondered my own feelings more, I started to realize that it maybe it wasn’t him I was worried about, but myself. I had no confidence in myself and it came out through my mistrust in him. I was worried he would lie to me or cheat on me because I didn’t think I deserved anything more. I didn’t see my own worth, and couldn’t convince myself why I would be good enough for a genuine, trusting relationship.
This realization started to change my mindset about a lot of things. I wasn’t mad at my friends when I didn’t get invited out. I didn’t think they were bad people. Rather, I was mad at myself for not being likeable enough to go out with them. It also started to explain why I had hung on to so many friendships for so long that really were not healthy. I didn’t see my worth, I wasn’t proud of myself, I didn’t test my capabilities, I settled. I settled because I had such a negative perception of what I deserved.
Looking back, I think I was a lot angrier of a person than I would have liked. I don’t tend to come across that way, it normally comes across as sadness, but I think it did affect some of my friendships. I tended to be upset with people and situations that were a product of my own lack of confidence. I took everything so personally. I was always worried people were mad at me, I took criticism so hard, and I didn’t do well with people upset with me. I relied on other people to build me back up because I couldn’t do it myself.
Fast forward 6 months.
Moving away from home has given me time to reflect on who I am, and who I want to be. Stepping away from my entire support system, all I had left to rely on was myself and I’ve had to get pretty comfortable listening to my own feelings and emotions.
The most rewarding thing that has come out of my move is that I can look at my life and say “I did this myself”. Watching myself move out on my own, do well in school, hold down two jobs, and make new friends has allowed me to gain the confidence I lacked for so many years. For the first time since elementary school, I have genuinely felt proud of myself. I know that I can do more than I give myself credit for. I know I am capable and smart and too hard on myself, and it makes me sad that I didn’t let myself feel those feelings for so long.
I’ve wanted to write this out for myself for a while to remember when I’m having a bad day, or when those feeling of self-doubt starts creeping in around exam season. However, I still had a moment of hesitation. I can feel my self-growth and I am aware and present with my feelings. But honestly, life has been pretty good. I haven’t had a lot of things to challenge my confidence or my pride. I worried the second I said, “I feel confident in who I am,” it could get torn down again.
But then, it happened. It didn’t happen in the way I thought, a bad grade or fight with my boyfriend, but no, it was Facebook. It’s 2018, and I got called out on Facebook. Classic.
My friends that were with me would attest to the colour draining out of my face and the immediate confusion I felt. “But this isn’t even close to the truth” was the first thing I said. My point is not what was said, how it was said, or who said it, but it was how it made me feel. I automatically went into my self-destructive hole of, I must be really awful if someone is going out of their way to ensure I have a bad day. I’ll admit, I was sad, it got to me. Yet, after a few minutes, something new happened.
I started to feel bad for the person who tried to hurt me. My second thought was, wow they must be really upset and insecure with themselves if trying to hurt me helps them feel better. I was sad for them. I related to them and sympathized with them. I was like that too. I got mad at my friends and boyfriend because I always was threatened by the idea of not being good enough. I felt bad they didn’t feel strong enough to have a direct conversation with me about their feelings. I felt sad they were hurting and were insecure.
It’s a weird feeling being on the other side of it now. I understand why people are mean. I get why petty fights are started. But I’ve also come to understand that the reason is not my lack or my misdoing. The fact that I automatically sympathized with them, and didn’t take it personally reaffirmed how much I have grown. People can say rude things, but it doesn’t define me, because at the end of the day I am aware of my own truth. I know who I am and I am still proud of myself.
So alas, here I am talking about confidence because we need to talk about it. I am so proud of where I’ve come, but also recognize my privilege of being self-aware. To know that there are people my age still burdened by their own self-doubt makes me sad. It makes me sad not only for them but the other people they are able to affect.
Confidence is not just physical, it is about believing in your values, believing in your abilities, and not letting the little things threaten it.
I finally reached my bump in the road, I was challenged and vulnerable. But I am okay. I am proud of myself. And I am confident and happy with the person I know I am.
I hope you enjoyed my confidence talk and I am always willing to talk to because sometimes it will take others helping you and giving you a good foundation before you can start building yourself back up.