Learning how to build confidence in yourself takes practice
You’re never as confident as you are when you’re a little kid. I mean like… learning-to-walk little. The world is completely open. You are completely trusting. You never think whether or not you can walk, you just stand up and try.
You might fall but that doesn’t bother you. You don’t even cry. Even the falling feels a bit fun. This is all so exciting!
Soon you’re running around the room at top speed. Unconcerned about tripping and falling, you know you’ll just get back up again. Nothing can stop you.
But then you get older. Life becomes more complex. Sometimes when you try something you get hurt and that scares you. What if you get hurt again? You really don’t want that to happen. How can you avoid it?
Sometimes the pain isn’t physical, but it still makes you cry. You hate feeling this way, you’ll do anything to avoid those scary feelings.
And it just gets worse from there doesn’t it?
As we get older, our fears of rejection and failure become stronger. Sometimes small things that happen early in our life can damage confidence early on and we never quite recover. Maybe you were just born a little timid and believing in yourself has never come easy. Or perhaps you go through phases of confidence but then self-sabotage when you come close to success.
It happens to us all.
Decide on a path and stick to it
Believe it or not, I don’t know one person who was born confident. Even if they seem confident on the outside, pretty much everyone has stuff they are dealing with on the inside. Learning how to deal with your stuff is the first step to having confidence to try new things, go after your dreams or just get up after falling down.
I was never a confident person growing up. I was the middle child technically but there was a 10 year gap between myself and my two older siblings. My other two sisters were 2 and 4 years younger than me. I joke that I was ignored like the typical middle child but as the oldest in the house by the time I was 8, everything was also my fault. I was supposed to be the responsible one. My Dad was pretty strict on us growing up so there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for mistakes. You did what you were told and that was it.
This made me feel pretty uneasy about almost everything. I often felt very nervous about trying new things or doing anything that seemed like I might be bad at or get me in trouble. This was a good thing at times because I was never going to get hooked on drugs but it also made me a very fearful person to be around… AKA not fun.
So I just kept to myself really. An awkward artsy girl who really wanted to fit in but was too busy hating herself to ever really try.
And it stayed mostly this way until college. I should mention I didn’t even go to college after High School. I almost failed out of High School so I assumed I was too stupid to go to college too. It wasn’t until I was laid off from my bartending job and had no other plans for life at the age of 24 that I was convinced to attend community college by my best friend.
College was hard. I almost failed out my first semester there as well.
I wasn’t putting in a lot of effort into my work because I honestly didn’t think I was all that good! It wasn’t until my professor gave me a firm talking to and an ultimatum to either pull myself up by my bootstraps and get to work or continue with the excuses and fail out of the program.
Build faith in yourself
I chose to work. Even though I had no idea HOW I was going to do it, I just decided that I would graduate. So I showed up every day. Did the work. Tried my best and said goodbye to my old life. I was ready for a new one.
It wasn’t easy! OMG it was soooo hard! I often wanted to quit! I cried, I cursed, I doubted myself every step of the way…
But I never quit. I had decided that no matter where this path took me, this was the path I chose and I was dedicated to it.
I didn’t realize it at the time but each time I had the opportunity to quit and decided not to, I was proving to my inner voice that I could do hard things. I was practicing building confidence in myself (out of sheer stubbornness). I didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly feel confident but each time I chose to stay on my path and passed another test or got a little bit better at a skill, I felt better about the person I was.
Learn to silence your inner assh*le
Of course there where times that I felt I was a terrible failure. That there was no use trying. I was a loser and always would be a loser. That’s my inner assh*le talking. They really know how to get under my skin and always know exactly what to say to make me feel the worst.
Most of the time I didn’t even realize he was talking. I just sat there and took it until I wanted the earth to just swallow me whole.
I wish I could remember when exactly I started telling that guy to just shut up. Maybe it was because I had no choice and had to turn in that assignment. Maybe it was because I was already gaining confidence in myself with each new day but at some point I just learned to say, “No”. Like, I almost said it out loud.
Whenever I would feel myself slipping into a pit of self-pity and started in on myself, I would just say, “No”. Then I would get up and get busy on something to get my mind off it.
I learned to fight back against that stupid voice. He’s a big fat liar anyway.
Be scared and do it anyway
Being confident doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It doesn’t mean you don’t carefully consider the consequences. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid of failure. Being confident means you understand that no matter what happens, you’ll learn and you’ll grow.
Isn’t learning and growing the goal? Or did you want to stay where you are forever even if that means being unhappy forever…
Every day I do something that freaks me out. Whether it’s learning to use a new power tool, learning to use some form of technology that frustrates me and makes my brain hurt. Or just leaving my house and talking to people I don’t know!!
GASP! Socializing is the scariest thing in the world for me!!
But I do it anyway! Sometimes I have to take a break and walk away and come back to it later. Sometimes I feel drained and exhausted and have to have some “me time” to recharge. But MOST of the time, I accomplish what I set out to do. I learn the thing. I do the thing or I learn that I never want to do that again.
No matter what happens, don’t let fear stand in your way. Fear is an illusion. It’s not real. It’s just that inner assh*le again telling you lies so that you stay in your safe/unhappy box.
What do you really want?
It’s hard to be confident if you don’t really know what you want. Have you ever truly thought about it? Not in just a wistful sort of, “Wouldn’t that be nice if someday…” kind of way. What if you actually thought about what YOU want out of this life.
Is it a certain career? Is it a hobby you wish you were better at? Travel more? Be more financially stable?
You can’t take your first step until you think about what you really want. And don’t immediately think about all the reasons why you CAN’T have those things. You truly can have any life you desire if you decide to show up and do the work. But you have to know what you’re working towards.
After you set your goal, write it down. Then think of THREE things that need to happen for you to reach that goal. They could be really broad.
For example: your goal might be to write a cookbook. In order to write a cookbook you need to have recipes. Cookbooks have categories so I would need to make a list of all the different categories that would be in my cookbook. Cookbooks have photos so I need to either learn to take better photos of my food or hire a photographer.
- Make a list of recipes for my cookbook
- Categorize my recipes into a loose template
- Work on my photography
Then you can start thinking about what you can do every week to work towards those goals. Maybe you set a goal for yourself that every week you’ll try out three recipes for dinner and write them down. Then you decide to take a photography course to learn how to use your camera better. On the weekends you leisurely read through cookbooks you love and make note of what you like about how they are put together, slowing putting together a vision of your own cookbook.
Do you see how we did that? Setting a goal is like you’re at the base of a staircase. Your goal is at the top. All you have to do is take the stairs one step at a time to reach your goal. Map it out and then stick to your plan.
Just because you can do anything doesn’t mean it’s going to happen overnight. A lot of the time we set goals or we idly wish for our lives to be different but we never really set a focus. If the goals are so big or too unachievable then we can never be mad at ourselves for failing right?
If you want to be a millionaire you can be a millionaire. That’s definitely not out of reach. But WHY do you want to be a millionaire?
Setting lofty goals without any real meaningful insight into the WHY will just set you up for failure. Really think about what you want in the future and what you can do right now to get closer to that goal. Set small goals and work towards them slowly. Each time you reach a goal you will become more confident and motivated to move to the next.
Ignore the haters
This has to be said. Nothing can break a person faster than a hater. Whether it’s a family member, a friend or a random troll on the internet. It can be so easy to say, “Ignore the haters”. Easier said than done. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Over the years, I have lost more friends than I can count. My own father was convinced cake decorating was just another “fad” and that I would be bored of it in six months like everything else.
I’ve sincerely struggled with a lot of personal introspection. Wondering what was wrong with me.
I tried everything to make them happy. To be easy-going. To be the perfect friend. The perfect daughter. Don’t make waves. Don’t make anyone mad. And you know what?
They STILL hated on me!
That’s right! No matter what I did, I was still not worthy in their eyes. So I thought well gee, if they are going to hate me anyway, I may as well be happy with myself!
So that’s what I did. I decided that I would run my life as I always had. By my own moral compass. My own dreams and aspirations and I would trust my gut to tell me what was the right thing to do. I deleted my public facebook page. I stopped following toxic people that made me feel bad about myself. I left negative groups that spent a lot of time tearing people down. I stopped talking to people who claimed friendship to my face but tore me down behind my back.
And it has been the #1 booster of confidence in myself to date.
I don’t care what the haters are doing. I focus on myself and the people that truly love me and cheer for me. The ones that cry with me when life kicks me and the ones that lift me back up. Those are the only ones that matter.
I often think about myself on the proverbial deathbed. Thinking back on my life and the decisions I made. I imagine myself there whenever I am torn between making myself happy or making others happy. It usually clears things right up.
At the end of the day(s), it won’t matter how many likes you got on that IG post. It won’t matter if you where with the “IN” crowd. The only thing that matters is love. Love for yourself, love for your life, and the ones that you love. Every time you start to feel worried about what others will think, whether or not you might fail or look stupid, think about how you’d feel if you knew you would die tomorrow. Would you regret not taking the chance? Or is it worth maybe falling down, getting back up, and running.