I’ve been thinking about the concept of self-confidence for a few years now. Mainly in the vein of “where can I get some more of that stuff?”
I have my ups and downs. If it weren’t for my downs, I wouldn’t be as motivated to experience the ups. The following thoughts are things I’ve come to learn for myself when I have a week or so of low self-confidence—where I feel like my best is never good enough.
This was kind of hard to write because I didn’t want to make this sound like I know all that there is to know about self-confidence. Hopefully the way I present this will be a help to you as you are in the trenches with me, as we attempt to up our self-confidence so we can get some goals achieved!
So here it is: a few things I’ve learned about myself and what to do when I feel sluggish and frustrated with myself.
I don’t have to be “on” all the time.
Being “On” means feigning that everything is fine and you have your life together. Whether we do it intentionally or not, it can damage our self-confidence. People often assume everyone else is “on” all the time—and succeeding at it. You are only aware of your failings and not everyone else’s. So in my opinion “fake it until you make it” has its limitations since it teaches us that we have to worry about how others view us and how we handle life.
You don’t have to always be on top of your game. Meaning, give yourself a well-deserved break. If you’re sick, sad, tired, depressed, angry, frustrated, burned out, or anything else, it means that you need to rest up—physically and emotionally. Allowing myself to take a break and not “keep score” gives me a change to remember that I don’t have to be 100% perfect 100% of my life. I can afford to mess up and not be upset about it.
Try to be okay with where you are at every instance of your life, rather than wait to be better or happy. Ruts, roadblocks, challenges, and disappointments are super normal, so we have to let ourselves know that we’re doing our best and we’re okay.
I need to understand the real enemy.
Every heroine needs a villain, right? Sure, but it sucks when certain situations get me down and I think everyone else is to blame. “Society’s gettin’ me down. I hate the way everyone judges me/my beliefs/my body type/my interests online.”
This reminds me of a little story. It stars me as a middle school child crying and genuinely frustrated that for the first time I didn’t feel pretty or genuinely liked by those around me. I kept saying “They are making me feel like
no one will ever love me.” My mom then said over my crying, “Who’s they?” She asked me that with the voice of a mother that wanted to take down names and find some people. In this case, the voice of a black belt in taekwondo.
I then realized if I had to think of specific people, not a single name came to mind. As in, I was assuming people felt negatively towards me, but as for enemies, I didn’t really have any.
I remember that sometimes to remind myself that unless someone out there wants me to fail, then maybe people are nicer than I thought. Sure, they may disagree with me, but they don’t dislike me.
So work with me on avoiding absolutes. It might be time to ask yourself “Who’s they?” if you start blaming insecurities on people, society, everyone, no one, men, women, the patriarchy, or whatever.
And you know what? So what if there are people out there that don’t respect you or agree with you. Are they really worth our time? Is it worth my energy to please someone who doesn’t know me, or like me or never has my best interests at heart?
If you spend a lot of time on the internet, understand that there are people who use it expressly to tear others down. Be prepared to filter out the inevitable hostility, and personal attacks as you interact with what parts of the community are approachable and open to real discussion.
A false interpretation of what others think of me and you is as real an enemy as a figure behind a gun.
I want to be my best friend rather than my worst enemy.
I shouldn’t have to debase myself or apologize for being less than perfect to feel more human. Being happy for myself and thinking I have talents does not a narcissist make. As in, I’ve got some talents and abilities that I’m proud of. I’m not going to downplay those things for someone else to appear humble because that’s not the true definition of humility.
If I do something right, I can reward myself! Whether I have an off-day, off-week, or off-month, I want to show myself the self-love and appreciation I deserve. That’s as valuable as external compliments and expressions of appreciation when it comes to buoying up your self-esteem.
Some of us show that love by pushing ourselves to be better—like being serious about working out or eating healthier. Other times, we have to tell ourselves we’re already doing so much and it wouldn’t kill us to relax, rest up, and remember our accomplishments. I am the latter.
I am bound to fail at times because of my shortcomings and that’s life, Leute. But part of being my own best friend is being loving and supportive to myself and others. If someone else is depressed, the last thing I should do is let them sink further, so I shouldn’t treat myself any different and neither should you. I want to be my own best friend, plain and simple.
I want to be genuinely happy for other people.
Often, it’s easy to get competitive when success feels like a “1st place only” concept—only one person can win at a time. If someone succeeds, they are tampering with or stealing your chances of success. Don’t fall for it! Just because other people are further along on with writing and publishing, doesn’t mean I can’t have those things, too. I had a hard time with this since it took me so long just to finish the manuscript of my first book; other people are well on their way with publishing and promoting their work—and it’s hard to be happy for them sometimes.
Celebrate with them! We don’t know how much time and effort to get where they are, but they worked hard to get it! Our day will come eventually.
I want to be better and confident for myself.
So hey, if you want to feel better with how you look, with a specific hobby, or get further in life, then let’s do something! You can do whatever you want to do. Just make sure it’s for you and not for someone else. There is no council that decides the best way to really do anything. There’s no real way to define what it truly means to be attractive, successful, or rich—because someone else’s idea of success won’t always match up with yours.
Developing and keeping self-confidence for myself will always be a constant struggle. I probably won’t reach that level of always being proud of myself—but that’s okay. I just wrote this in the hopes that you will know that no matter how I know you, I value you and who you are in my life. It’s great to watch people achieve their dreams and I hope you realize that your dreams matter and if you want to go for it, don’t be the one to hold yourself back. We can’t afford to be miserable because we think we deserve it because we don’t.
So, got any fun and fool-proof tactics for keeping your chin up? How have you increased your self-confidence in the past year?
4 comments on “What Confidence Means to Me on Off-Days”
Thank you so much for writing this post. I admire your vulnerability and your ability to dig deep and find ways to genuinely pick yourself up. It’s nice to remember that I’m not alone.
The tip that helps me is remembering that, when it really comes down to it, you only have yourself. Sure, you have friends and family, but you are the only person who is there for you 100% of the time and knows 100% of your experience. So, if you’re REALLY all you have, why wouldn’t you be kind and helpful to yourself?
It’s kind of a harsh reality that we’re the ones that have our own backs 100% of the time. I mean, in a religious sense, I know God is there for me, too. But it’s just as hard for him to make me happy as my husband or anyone else if I’m being too stubborn to let my own self be happy. Thanks for your comment! I’ve seriously rewritten this piece like 16 times.
Right on the nose.
I don’t know if I have any real wisdom to ladle out here, but among the biggest things that helps with confidence is hearing the two little words “Me, too.” Which is exactly your first point: *don’t* fake it til you make it – own up to the fact that you, too, have failings. I’ve found in my blogging life that every time I stuck out my neck like this, made myself vulnerable, it struck a chord – friends popped up all over the place saying “Thank you! I needed to hear that!” And all of a sudden you realise that you’re very much not alone.
Incidentally, I love that you’ve got Winnie the Pooh as one of your illustrations. He’s one of the best teachers of self-confidence – he calls himself A Bear of Very Little Brain, but is completely un-bothered by that fact (and does his stoutness exercises to keep in shape – his stout shape). Gotta love him (and Piglet, and Eeyore, and Tigger…).
Fabulous post! Thanks for sharing your insight. It always helps to see that other people have similar insecurities and get fresh inspiration on how to handle them.