I am an avid believer in the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” theory. When I was younger and would play music and dance, if I was nervous to go up on stage, I’d look around and see that no one else seemed phased – so neither did I. It worked. And I think it’s the same for everything really. Like when you’re having a job interview and talk about how bubbly and outgoing you are – whether it’s true or not, it’s believable and you’ve gained some confidence from that fib. Go you.
When I was a wee kid, I was probably the least confident person you’d ever come across. First of all, I suffered a savage cocktail of mental health issues which quite literally stopped me from having a voice for about four years. But not only was I unconfident speaking in front of people or getting involved, I was unconfident in myself as a person. Being so young and struggling with mental issues is tough because you really don’t understand what’s happening, so you just blame yourself. You’re weird and bizarre and it’s your fault those kids are teasing you.
Unless you’re one of those lucky people who have always been confident in life, I think it comes with age. It comes with experiences, pushing your boundaries and the growth of your intelligence. I can easily look back now and know that none of the issues I struggled with between the ages of three and seven were my fault. They were no ones fault – it was just one of those horrid things that life throws at you sometimes. But look – I survived it and I’m better for it.
Confidence comes from making bad decisions at 14 years old and learning not to do those again. This could be trusting everybody around you and then finding out that some people are snakes. Or this could simply be bleaching your hair only to hate it the day after and wishing you’d never bothered in the first place.
Confidence comes from going to university at 18 years old even though you’re riddled with anxiety at the thought of having to make new friends and mingle. It’s pretending you’re not bothered when the seminar tutor says ‘let’s start with an icebreaker’ and volunteering to go first. It looks like you’re going to be the loud one of the group but in reality you just want to get it over with. But over time, you’re more likely to get involved in group discussions and you’ll have taught yourself how to enjoy it.
Confidence comes from travelling and stepping out of your comfort zones. Whether you’re going away for 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months – if it’s something you’ve never done before, it’s daunting. But you’ve trained your mind and your panic attacks that you’re allowed to be excited about the unknown and you make yourself see the thrill in each day rather than the ‘what ifs’.
Confidence comes from having a good support network around you. Which also comes with age. With age, you manage to filter out the sour fruits from your life and leave you with the best of the bunch. Also, with age, it’s completely your choice who you associate with. It’s not like at school where you see people every single day – it’s harder to let go of those people. But in your twenties, you can go all ‘bye, Felicia’ and never have to see them again. You’re left with a small group of fabulous people and if you pick up some more along the way, that’s good too. As long as everyone is lifting you up and wanting the best for you – they’re keepers.
Confidence is learning to not really care what others have to say about the way you dress, the type of music you listen to or what job you have. Confidence is not hearing any outside noise because you’re happy with the way you dress, the type of music you listen to, what job you have and everything else. Because, to put it bluntly, it really isn’t anyone else’s business.
I’ve learned from my 23 years that I fake confidence everyday. The only difference is, I never have to fake it as much anymore. I’m also still learning everyday and I’m constantly giving myself pep talks – ‘stop comparing yourself to fitness bloggers’ and ‘what you have to say is interesting and important’.
I have my family, friends and myself to thank that I’m going in the right direction in terms of confidence and feeling good about myself. So here’s to growing and all that cheesy stuff. You can do it on your own or you can get your best pals to help you along the way. Either way, you can get there. Just takes a bit of time. And in the words of RuPaul: if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?