Like most girls, I grew up with many dreams of what life would look like and what I wanted to be when got older. I was an excellent student and was known for my athleticism from a very early age. In fact, it was not uncommon for me to be one of the captains picking the kickball teams during recess.
And you would have thought that the popularity and reputation gained in elementary school would have been enough to carry me through junior high and high school but you would be wrong. Instead, what it did was bring attention to me – most of which I was very uncomfortable with; even today, I shun the spotlight if I can.
9th grade was my most difficult year – I felt insignificant and worthless. No one knew it, either. I played on several sports teams for our junior high and was one of four valedictorians with a perfect 4.0 GPA. I hardly smiled, even when I excelled at something or was congratulated for doing something well. Here’s proof too.
Outside of my school work and performance for a sports team, I hid myself from others. I didn’t have many “friends” although I was well-liked and friendly with classmates, I was scared to allow myself to be that vulnerable. And the biggest secret of all is that I didn’t believe in myself. So, if you think you can look at a girl (or boy, for that matter) and know what they feel and how they perceive themselves based on how they portray themselves to the rest of us, you would be wrong. We never know.
I never felt like I fit in. I was an athlete, but the athletes were not in the honors classes and vice versa. No man’s land seemed to be best suited for me and that can be very lonely. Torn between several different worlds that never seemed to ever fit me caused me to become closed off to the rest of the world and I built walls so high it would take 30 years to tear them down. Only after years of persistence and someone seeing me for who I really could be, did my confidence return in full force. Even as a wife and parent, I sometimes struggled if I was making the right decision, saying the right things, or was I making a bigger mess.
Whether a girl grows up around a great support system or struggled to keep positive without one, every girl will continue to fight that battle more than we know. That struggle includes comparing oneself to others, fitting in, and loving who they are.
Confidence is not something that can be given – it must be earned. It is only earned through the challenges we encounter in everyday life. Our self-esteem does not become stronger unless we tackle those challenges to grow.
So here are 10 of the best ways to become more confident:
- Look for the positive outcome. Too often and too quickly, we hold ourselves back because we believe we will fail or someone will make fun of us. We need to believe in the good things happening. Ask yourself, “What’s the BEST thing that could happen?” and use that to push you forward.
- Try new things. We have watched others fail. The biggest reason don’t try new things is because of this long-standing belief that we are the same as everyone else. We perceive someone’s ability to be more than our own. When people fail, we immediately start to question our own abilities instead of using that experience to gain new knowledge or motivate us towards success.
- Find encouraging people. Not everyone in this world will agree with or even understand what you are doing or why it matters so much to you. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you – highlighting your talents and supporting your endeavors.
- Challenge your comfort zone. You are not alone in feeling nervous when doing something new – we all feel that way. But our comfort zone gets a little bigger each time we step outside of it. Staying safe doesn’t grow our confidence.
- Don’t give up after one try. Now that we have gone a little outside our comfort zone, some of us will want to immediately retreat to where it is comfortable again. We retreat and breathe a heavy sigh, never really giving ourselves to let that confidence become something. Don’t quit. Stick with it a few more time and give it a chance…it just might grow on you.
- Change your vocabulary. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Retraining your mind to use different words and create different thoughts takes practice and effort. If you really want something different, this is where is it begins. Once you change the way your mind works and the thoughts you create, you will naturally change what you do.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop looking across the table or in your classroom and wondering why you aren’t taller or you don’t have blond hair. You don’t. Let it go. Love your curly hair. Fall in love with your freckles. Take a look in the mirror and see everything you are, not everything you aren’t.
- Have a Battle Cry. What’s that? A Battle Cry is something that you tell yourself when you are having a tough day and just need a few words to help you keep going. Examples can be “It can and I will!” “This isn’t who I am!” or my personal favorite, “It starts today!” Sometimes, no one is around to help pick you up, so you might as well get used to doing some of it on your own.
- Compliment yourself. We believe what we hear. The more we hear positive things about ourselves, the more we will believe them. Self-talk is extremely Our minds will “eat” whatever we “feed” it – so let’s feed it the best we can find. And guess what? How we feel about ourselves become apparent when interacting with others and dealing with everyday life.
- Celebrate small accomplishments. None of us ever gets anywhere overnight. We must take a series of small steps to get where we need to be. Even though you might not have achieved everything you wanted, you did more than you thought you could. And that’s worth celebrating.
Confidence will come and go depending on how much we allow our circumstances to make us better. If we stay inside a safe little box, then we can’t ever get stronger.
It comes down to this simple principle – until you are willing to ‘buy’ what you are ‘selling’, then no one else will. Everything becomes possible when you are strong and filled with confidence. Use that positive energy to create excitement and build momentum – then there is no stopping you.