Four months ago I Googled “how to be confident.” I felt like every time someone asked me to do something like hang out or even a task at work I cowered. I felt subservient to everyone. I felt self-conscious about my abilities. I felt like a failure. I lost every ounce of confidence I had when I decided to drop out of grad school a few months ago. I knew it was the right decision, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect my self-image.
I went from a good student with a bright future to college dropout quickly. I already had my bachelor’s degree so there was no valid reason for me to feel sorry for myself but I did. I felt like I couldn’t be a professional without a professional degree. I felt like a young girl who knew nothing about life.
But here’s the honest truth about it: I made a mistake. Just as it’s important to be honest with others when you’re wrong it is also important to admit your own mistakes to yourself. I was judging myself more than anyone else in my life was. Everyone else understood. Everyone else agreed with my decision. Everyone else saw a great, smart girl with a good head on her shoulders. So why couldn’t I?
Becoming confident was a lot of work and took a lot of time. It’s not a trait I have one hundred percent of the time. My confidence wavers. I still have days where I think, “I can’t do this.”
The difference now is that I remind myself to not listen to negative thoughts which is the hardest part about building confidence. In the section above I said it took four months, which many may think is a short amount of time, but when you’re insecure four months of doubting your every move is a lifetime.
My transformation into a confident person started when I was still in grad school as a graduate assistant. I worked for the same woman for five years and she knew me very well. I trusted, and still trust, her opinion. I always told her she saw me grow up because she has essentially known me my entire adult life. She started to notice how anxious and meek I was acting and told me I had every right to be confident. That comment got to me (in a beneficial way) because one, it was something I needed to hear and two, I thought I was hiding my self-doubt well.
After some reflection, I realized that I was not hiding my insecurities and anxiety well and something needed to change if I wanted to be confident and happy. My former boss, a person I respected, told me with absolute certainty that I should be confident and that I should be proud of my accomplishments and skills. Her comment made it seem like I finally had permission to be a confident professional.
So after realizing it was something I needed to work on I started thinking of reasons I should be confident. I started a blog and became very proud of it which helped build my confidence. I re-did my resume and made sure to add everything that made me feel accomplished. I stopped being afraid to reach out to people. I reminded myself that I worked hard for the degree I have and that I am using it every single day by having this blog and creating content. I started an Instagram to cover my weight loss journey. I stopped being scared of people.
I started to realize that I am, in fact, amazing. I started to let myself think things like, “wow, I have amazing eyebrows” which is a huge thing to me because all throughout high school people would point out how light my eyebrows were compared to my hair color and it was such an insecurity. I started to think, “maybe I’m not the best at design but I’m not using word art, Microsoft Publisher, or Comic Sans.” I began to see my stretch marks as completely unique and gorgeous. I saw myself as someone who was strong and incredibly intelligent and resilient. I counted up all the things I’ve gone through and reminded myself that I survived and came out on top every time. I put a positive twist on anything and everything I could think of and it changed everything. I made sure to turn my weaknesses like being empathetic into a strength like being able to read a room and set boundaries with certain people based upon my emotional intelligence and past experiences.
Being positive about my abilities emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically built my confidence.