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Secrets to Finding Self Confidence

"Self confidence is earned by keeping promises to yourself"

“Love yourself” and “Be you” are two sayings often found on posters of our schools, Instagram captions, shirts, etc. If it was that easy, we’d all be doing it by now. It’s easy to preach words and sayings out there, but truly being yourself takes a lot more time and practice. But what’s stopping us from being our true selves, and loving that person too? Confidence, or lack thereof.

Lacking confidence and having a low self esteem is obviously very common in teenagers, and it’s not a huge surprise why. Many of us are insecure about our personalities, so we change them. We dislike our bodies, so we manipulate them. We might fall into self hatred, intense self discipline, or even self harm and other unhealthy behaviors as a way to cope with our insecurities or “fix ourselves.” There’s so many other ways we can feel insecure, and there are few things that a lot of us do feel confident about. Why are we so concerned about what others think of us though? Why should it even matter? A lot of the time, we convince ourselves that if everyone around us saw us a certain way, we would start to feel that way about ourselves too. Those things do NOT come hand in hand though. It isn’t humanly possible to have everyone like you, which is a hard pill to swallow.

One important factor to building confidence within yourself and just being you is how you look at others. If you’re feeding into taking one look at someone or something and judging it, then you’re feeding into this pressure you put on yourself. If you expect everyone else to be the same and fit into the “perfection” category, of course you’re going to expect that within yourself. We need to forgive mistakes and imperfections within others in order to accept and love ourselves. Keep in mind that you do get back what you put out into the world. If you outwardly judge others, people are going to take your lead and do the same. Everyone is in tune with everyone, especially at this age. The people who are unique and kind to one another are the people that get envied, and deep inside we know that. The same goes for the people who are accepting of others; they get automatically treated better. Being kind to someone is more likely to give you a confidence boost than being mean or judgmental ever will.

I like to try and have a positive outlook on every situation. That means not beating myself up for making mistakes and just congratulating myself when I make it through hard times. I had to even start looking at myself differently. I was hesitant to start wearing short sleeves again this summer, because I had been in baggy clothes all winter. I didn’t want anyone to think anything bad about my body or my style and I just wanted to hide. I had to start throwing on a cute outfit that I know I love and just marching to the mirror without allowing myself to change a billion times. Sometimes when discovering your confidence, you have to bolt right into these challenges, headfirst, no hesitation. Instead of questioning if I looked “good enough” or had the “perfect outfit”, I affirmed myself and hyped myself up. I had to remind myself that I am beautiful and pretty darn cool, and if others can’t see that, shame on them. I definitely had to “fake it till I make it” and repeat those affirmations to myself daily. I did eventually start believing what I was telling myself. Self blaming and negative comments to yourself are examples of negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is exactly what it sounds like; talking negatively to yourself. Almost everyone is guilty of this from time to time. The more we beat ourselves up, the more it contributes to our self hatred and low confidence. You want to catch yourself in negative self-talk, then challenge and replace those thoughts. Start to really focus on the way you’re treating yourself and catch yourself when negative thoughts come up. Changing ourselves simply just doesn’t work. We convince ourselves that if we can be a certain way, the hole of all of our self hatred and embarrassment towards ourselves will fill, but it never does. Confidence is the only thing that can fill it.

Overthinking and over analyzing everything. Sound familiar?

Our brains just LOVE to overthink our every move and make us feel bad about ourselves for the things we do. I know I over analyzed my friend’s face when I told her I was writing a mental health blog, an activity not too popular for girls my age. Did her face scrunch up? Does she think I’m weird or that I’m screwed up? Obviously we’re always looking for the bad signs before the good ones. It’s easy to just say to look for the good signs in everyone and their options towards us rather than the bad, but that’s not necessarily the answer. I know I mentioned a positive outlook on situations, but it isn’t quite the same with people. Rather than looking for any approval or disapproval, try not caring at all. Instead of thinking and thinking about past situations or what others think of you, just choose to be in the present moment and do YOU. It doesn’t matter if your family thought you did well at the softball game or if your crush liked your shirt. You don’t need anyone’s approval but your own. Shifting your focus to impressing yourself and being yourself is the best way to overcome overthinking. Once we start overthinking, we start to doubt ourselves and get carried away with every little flaw. If I feel like wearing bold eyeliner today, I should be able to do so! I'm not hurting anyone, and I like the way it feels to wear it. One way to start feeling like this is by just taking a huge leap and doing the things that cause you the most anxiety. Have your support around you, like family or friends. You don’t have to go through this alone. Telling your parents or another close adult that your goal is to try and be more confident and bold is a great way to start improving your self esteem. Parents can be our biggest fans and can keep you in check with your goals, so reach out and ask for some support!

There are other forms of beating ourselves up too. Some of us shrink away and hide ourselves from the world. I know personally that I’m working on walking with my shoulders up and not hunched and making eye contact. People notice those types of things and will treat you differently, which can easily improve the way you look at yourself. We might disregard ourselves and our opinions to please others. What we don’t realize is that people respect others that advocate for themselves. If we are always presenting ourselves as being passive and easy to walk all over, then people will treat us that way. We convince ourselves that we deserve to be stepped on and shouldn’t have an opinion and that ends up affecting our own belief in the value of ourselves. Work on being assertive rather than passive or aggressive and you’re good to go! Working on distinguishing taking responsibility for your actions when doing something wrong and self blaming or criticizing yourself is super important in the process of developing self love and confidence. Seeing yourself whole is important in shutting down that inner critic. When we feel like we have to fit into a mold for someone else, we’re reducing ourselves from three dimensional to a cardboard cutout. Journaling can help you see the bigger picture of yourself. You could just write about some of the actions that you did today or a cool interest you’ve picked up, then go back and read about it. It’s a confidence booster to journal. Spending time with those who make you feel special and loved is so important in order to let your true colors shine as well. You want to surround yourself with supportive people that make you feel loved rather than people who make you feel judged. Take a good look at who your friends are and decide whether or not they’re actually making you feel empowered and confident or insecure.

Schools have a huge part to take in low confidence. It can start with the teachers. It’s easy to tell when a teacher has a favorite student or group of students. At my school, it was our gym teacher and a group of girls. This group got special treatment and privileges, which were easily noticed by the rest of us. It’s actually funny to think about it now. Those girls were the ones that were having the “Be you <3” and “Love yourself :)” in their Instagram bios, yet would present an absolutely different message at school daily. You can’t trust people’s beliefs and personalities when online, you have to truly see the actions in person. They never quite got that though. I know that I had really convinced myself that I was the problem and would push myself to try and be something I wasn’t when I saw them getting all of the positive attention. We all love and crave that attention and congratulations from adults around us and will do lots of things to receive it. Schools must obviously know that, because ever since we’ve been in pre-k we’ve wanted our name written on the board for “best behaved.” In all honesty, I think that schools have to take a good, hard look at themselves and how they treat their “different” students. (By “different” I basically mean cooler.) Schools love to hang up posters and spend guidance counseling classes talking about how we should feel good about ourselves, then make us feel the absolute opposite. Health class teaches us that we’re pigs if we eat over a certain number of calories. Math teaches us that if we aren’t smart enough to be in a certain group, we’re the disappointments and are ignored by the teacher. Many students at school are like paid actors at this point. We’re being paid not to be ourselves with confidence boosts and attention, and many of us don’t know any better but to feed into that. The separating and ordering students is all very exhausting and can cause student rivalry as well as take a big whack at our self esteem. It isn’t your fault that you grew up in this generation, so remember that when you feel down on yourself. It is what it is, and you can’t change the way everyone in the world feels about themselves, but you can start with changing how you feel.

My last piece of advice is to take good care of yourself and fulfill your needs. Having good hygiene, brushing your hair and teeth, and other daily routines are so important to stick by. We tend to feel better about ourselves when we’re presentable and clean. It is not only helpful to look good in front of others, but to bring our own self esteem up. Staying clean relieves a groggy feeling of dirtiness. Being well groomed and wearing clothes that make you feel free and confident is such a powerful way of expressing yourself. Hydrating and eating a large variety of foods is crucial to feeling good about ourselves as well. When we only eat sugar and other junk foods, we feel more tired and low. It goes to the opposite spectrum too. If we’re only eating vegetables and fruits, we feel tired and drained. Getting a healthy variety each day to fuel your growing body leads to a nourished brain. A nourished brain= clear thinking. When we’re thinking clearly, we can better see ourselves as realistically as possible and are less hard on ourselves. Exercise and resting are both great confidence boosts. Just like with food, getting a variety is a perfect way to higher your self esteem. Exercising not only aids the release of hormones to make you feel happier, but it gives us an accomplished feeling and makes us feel strong. That’s sure to affect the way we mentally feel about ourselves. When we notice ourselves improving on any type of hobby, we just feel proud and more confident. Taking rest and self care time is the last important step to confidence and the feeling of worthiness. Taking some time to just show your body some gratitude by taking a complete rest feeds into the healthy mindset that we are enough. Resting is another great way to get in tune with yourself and really quiets those insecure thoughts down.

I hope you found this post helpful and inspiring to you on your own journey, and feel free to come back for my next post! Be sure to subscribe and become a member for more content and reminders when more posts are made as well. If you think this could benefit someone else in your life, please share this post with them to spread the self love!

Stay tuned for my next post and have a beautiful week!

By: Arden Nickerson

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