I have always envied people who carry themselves with the confidence of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. Insecurity has held my hand throughout most of my life. By sharing this journey, I hope I can reach out to others and in a way, also to myself.
Ah, Confidence! As a child, I believe I was confident. Like most children are. Confident enough to get on stage when I was 5, randomly chosen from a hundred others, to sing some silly Christmas song. I’m sure I made up half the words, warbled some and hummed the rest but I did it. Without blushing.
The body love/hate loop
Insecurity creeped up on me at an age when I realised that the boys in my class – still quite young, I’d say around 10 years old maybe – were noticing girls. Other girls. Was something wrong with me? That I could not fathom. When a friend casually pointed out some things in my body which were let’s say, different from what is believed to be “normal”, I suddenly started hating what I saw in the mirror. I started becoming conscious of every little mole on my body. Today I’m stuck in a love/hate loop. There are times when I’m Ok with myself. Then there are other times. It feels like a stretched-out puberty phase and it’s not even funny.
Being the Best vs Doing my best
When schools got bigger, I stopped being top of my class. As I saw it then, it was a little blow for my lovely parents who always wanted me to be the best. When someone would outrank me at some test or other, I felt I had disappointed my parents. I would compare myself and feel less capable. Somehow, someone always outshone me. I wanted to be the best and yet, as soon as I started working hard to achieve it, something inside would break into a resonating “Who am I even kidding?” I obviously didn’t have what it takes. I never saw “being the best” as “doing your best”. For me, numbers counted. And I didn’t have them.
I’d love to say I now have “Confidence is Sexy” tattooed on my back..
… but I don’t. The growing insecurity has had an impact I still feel today. Sometimes, I stutter when I speak. Not because I can’t get my tongue around the word but because I’m scared I’m not getting the message across. In my peak insecure moments, I won’t even look at the person I am speaking to in the eye. It makes me feel uncomfortable, unprepared, analysed, critiqued. Not liked. I used to be in a constant fearful stance, thinking that the people around me wouldn’t like what they saw. Today I learnt to take a step back, breathe and think. What is it that makes us feel good about ourselves?
1. Surround yourself with people who transmit positivity.
Who encourage you, who push you forwards, who make you realise that your dreams are your goals and they’re worth working hard for. Who tell you you’re beautiful every day, and means it, little flaws or not. There are times when you feel you need someone to pick you up. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
2. Reward yourself.
When you’re done with something that had been looming on the horizon and seriously unbalancing your confident gait – treat yourself. You did it. You faced it, you overcame it and you deserve something to commemorate it. Rewards are stimulating, Even the ones you give yourself.
3. Love yourself.
The fairest, and hardest of them all. When all’s been ticked and done, all that’s left is to turn to the beginnings. To the “I”. When I look at myself in the mirror, do I see someone worth being happy for? The answer should always, always be an uncompromising YES. I put happiness up there, along with food, shelter and clothes. The first key to happiness dictates that you love yourself, that you accept yourself, that you focus on the good, rather than the bad. You are your own mirror on the wall and if you say you’re the most confident in the land, then you are. It takes time, effort and and a whole lot of love. But it is possible.
Confidence. To know you have much to learn but that you’re getting there. To know you’re not perfect but to revel in your imperfections. To know there is only one person you have to please – and it’s yourself. Let’s not let insecurities ruin our parties. You or I probably won’t get any huge tattoos on our back but that’s ok. We’ll let confidence show in other ways. Now get on that stage and sing!