Monday, July 24, 2017

The Art of Finding Confidence

confidence (n.)
a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

When I was younger, I had a habit of walking with my head down. My eyes were always busy scanning the floor and the shuffling of my feet. When I grew taller as a child, I felt lanky and odd, always seemingly out of place. I never stood or sat up straight. In middle school, I'd brush my hair and wear it down the entire day. I wouldn't tie it back, nor clip it to the side. I kept bangs for a long time. "It shows less of my face," I'd say. 

I couldn't think of a time from my childhood where I ever felt beautiful.

When I entered high school, my perception of self worth slightly shifted. It's no longer only what is seen, but also what is countable. The strange, awkward transition from being un-confident, to trying to feel slightly decent about myself. Embarking on a path of figuring out who I was, and whether or not I liked it. So I relied more on things that hold certainty; numbers. Numbers on a scale, grades on a report card, likes and comments on a photograph. My self worth was defined in digits.

Maybe people who read this would laugh and think, What's she talking about? Of course she's confident, she's got a whole blog. Or something like There are pictures of her on her Instagram, if she really was so self-conscious she wouldn't share them in the first place. It's a strange paradox; being an introvert who writes her thoughts and shares it on the bloody Internet. Bloggers are typically stigmatized as being sociable, outgoing, carefree, and quite full of themselves.

But if there's one thing that I've struggled with my whole life, it's that; finding confidence.

My closest relatives will tell you how they always sigh in annoyance whenever I frown at a dress I'm trying on because I didn't think I looked good in it, even when they saw nothing wrong with it. They can tell you how I always utter my insecurities under my breath whenever we're shopping. My friends will tell you how indecisive I can get about the simplest choices. My mom will tell you how bad I can be at socializing and opening up to people.

Even though I (thankfully) came out of high school with eight times the confidence I had when I first walked into it, such "transformations" can only go so far.

Having a blog doesn't break down the mental shield I keep around myself, wrapping me like a shell. It doesn't silence my inner critic, doesn't instantly push all my deepest insecurities away. If anything, the pressures in my life as I grow up seem to enhance them.

I'm starting to think that perhaps I never have come out of that shell. A shell that has always made me self-conscious, uncertain, insecure, but also a shell I've always kept around me just to feel safe. I can write a hundred posts and I would still never crack it open.

But I know that we shouldn't spend the rest of our lives feeling inadequate. We shouldn't take on every opportunity, action or decision in life based on the thought that we're not good enough. I don't know if these words resonate with any of you, but if it does, I hope you can imagine a life without that imaginary shell. A life where you make peace with whatever you are, or however you look. A life where you break free.

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Learn to accept compliments. Over the course of my life, I've mastered the skill of deflecting compliments. Dodged them like bullets. I never knew how to react to them properly, because I could never wrap my head around them. Every nice thing anyone says, my mind would just warp it into: "They're just being nice" or "They probably just have low standards". It took a while for me to start saying "Thank you" instead of a "No I'm not!" To this day, I still have a habit of saying the latter.

Find people who make you feel good about yourself. Friendships aren't meant to drain you. It's a red flag when a group of people makes you feel like shrinking when you're around them. This doesn't mean you should find friends who shower you with compliments. Rather, find people who understand your feelings. Uplifting friendships; people who respect you, appreciate you, and are honest with you.

Learn how to become selfless. More often than not, insecurities stem from our fixations on ourselves. We overthink about our imperfections, we don't feel good enough, etc etc, all leading to a fractured self-esteem.

Try doing things for others. Fill your life with spending time with or helping people. Find passions, activities, things you can act upon. Have a heart for other people. Slowly, your life will revolve more around what you're doing, what you're investing in, and less around how you're feeling. And once you distance your mind from thinking about yourself so much, your insecurities will no longer feel so significant.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Being a perfectionist, my inner critic finds flaws everyday. I spend most of my days thinking that what I am is something that needs to be "fixed". But regardless of your imperfections, inside and outside, regardless of what you've done or could never do, you have to be brave and declare that you are enough.

In the words of Taylor Swift, "You are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods or money from your failed explorations. You are a product of the lessons you've learned, and you are a person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking."

Sweater: H&M // Glasses: Karamata
It's not something you "find". Lastly, my verdict is that confidence is a tricky thing to find. It's something that you can grasp, but then one split second of comparing yourself to others will simply make it slip through your fingers. Knowing that, I realized that confidence isn't something you "find". Not in good looks, followers, or academic achievements. It's not "found". It's practiced.

Sometimes, it takes a little bit of faking it. You force yourself to put on that mask of being confident, and go out into the world and if you're lucky, that confidence seeps right into you. Other times, it's something you develop over time. Something that takes practice, trial and error, adjustments to settle into. Changing a whole mindset, whole habits where you constantly degrade yourself, is not an easy task. But regardless of what your mind tells you, regardless of who you are, regardless of who you've been, I urge you, friends, to at least

try.


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Many people have been sharing their "stories" or "tips" on how to become confident and whatnot, but I guessed that maybe people needed to hear it from someone other than a famous blogger with this glamorous amazing life, perfect bedroom, all smiles in front of a camera, telling you how she "achieved confidence".
Maybe some needed to hear it from something like this. Someone struggling, just the same.
So whether or not that be the case, I truly hope this helped you on your path.

See you around.







15 comments :

  1. Heck. Yes.

    I could talk for hours about self confidence and the effects of not having very much... such a personal yet informative post that hits true.

    And I completely agree with your points; I too found that with practice my confidence grew and also with age and with learning to give less of a hoot about what people think.

    Gemma
    www.fadedwindmills.com

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    1. Thank you for reading, Gemma, glad you enjoyed it. x

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  2. Definitely somehing which has come to me as I've grown up, I think you begin to just care less about what people think and what matters to you. Accepting compliments is still a hard one though - I definitely try and do it graciously now!!

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  3. I know exactly what you mean! I still find accepting compliments to be really hard - but I'm continually working on it! x

    rhymeandribbons.com

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  4. That last bit on how confidence is something you practice and do instead of something you find, that is a great insight! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, I also really like that part about the not being too hard on yourself and I need to also work on being able to accept compliments!

    Characters & Carry-ons

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    1. Thanks for a lovely comment, Joyce! The compliment thing is something I'm endlessly working on as well. Easier said than done! Haha have a nice week x

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  5. I can totally relate when it comes to lack of confidence. It definitely takes practice and time to gain that... I found your tips to be helpful and I'll definitely try and start paying more attention to the compliments received and accept them more easily! xo

    Sabina | I've Got Sunshine

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    1. I'm glad to hear that this helped you in a way, Sabina. It does take progress! But any effort made is worth it. <3 For focusing on the compliment thing, I'd simply advise to let them get in your heart, but not in your head. But for critics, we should let them get to our head (for introspection), but not to our hearts.
      Have a good week x

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  6. Joanne, this was such a beautiful post and resonated with me in so many ways. There were moments reading this that I felt like you had written out my thoughts. I've finished my third year of uni and it's taken me until now to have some confidence in myself. I still find it difficult to accept compliments and I am often very hard on myself as a perfectionist too. But I'm learning everyday to embrace who I am and it's been such a refreshing experience. I used to think I could find confidence too and it took me a while to realise it has to come from inside me. I'd hate for someone to assume I am confident simply for having a blog because I always think carefully about what I share and worry what other people will think of me. My inner critic doesn't get quieter either. Your point about how friends shouldn't make you feel like shrinking is so true as I think I can attribute a lot of my lack of confidence during high school to being with the wrong people who'd subtly put me down. Surrounding yourself with people who understand you and are honest with you is so important.

    Thank you for sharing this - I just wish I could have read something like this when I was in my awkward teens.
    Beverley | word drift

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    1. Beverley! I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate all the lovely comments you leave on my posts. I'm glad that you found this post to be relatable. I'm a long way to go from a 3rd year in uni which tells me that I guess this confidence thing could take years and years to build and practice. And absolutely, being with the wrong people can be toxic in many ways without us even realizing it.
      Thank you so much for your story and your words <3 I hope you have a lovely week.

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  7. This is such a great post, I can totally relate. It's so hard being a kid and teen especially since I dealt with bullies.

    Confidence is definitely something you have to learn to own. I had none when I was younger and even now I still struggle. You have to keep your head high.

    xo
    www.ohhjuliana.com

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  8. Great Post. As a Blogger I understand the stigma. *sigh* Sometimes I feel like I'm both--Introverted and then Extroverted. Is that even possible...

    -Lena

    L.E.N.A | Revealed

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  9. This is amazing. I love how open you are with something so personal and let me tell you most of us feel the same.
    Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks.
    http://www.easys-tyle.com/

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  10. Something that I have always been interested in (being the shy girl ever since I could remember)
    I used to always think that you were just born with confidence and it something you just had or you didn't - in reality you can learn to be confident
    xx

    Lizzie | Takeoffs & Landings

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