Ever since my youngest age, I’ve struggled with confidence which led me to be reserved and to hate being the center of attention. Very often, a lack of confidence can be mistaken for disdain in the eyes of other people because ultimately you’re not opening yourself to others as they would expect you to.
In today’s post, I’m talking about a subject that is close to my heart because I’ve come a long way (even if it’s still kinda hard sometimes to deal with) and I thought I’d share my opinions and tips, hoping you’ll recognize yourself or a loved one in these words.
Your confidence will grow as you get older
The more you grow up and turn into an adult, the more you get to know yourself.
Understanding who you really are and doing your own thing takes time and it’s only when you come to know what you like/dislike but also your values and what you stand for, that this little demon called confidence will turn into an ally. You’ll also be aware of your abilities, and it’s gonna be easier to determine what you’re capable of vs. your limits.
As I got older, I also found out that getting my first job (that followed my career path I mean) helped me being more confident. When you’re at school, you have this pressure of being good in every domain and being accepted by the other student so you’re not cast aside. When you have an occupation, your day job not only represents you but lets you express yourself for what you’re good at. It’s more likely that you’ve been employed for your skills than anything else so obviously you’re not going to be judged, you’re the expert here so there’s no reason people will doubt you.
One thing I can add is that the people you’ll meet are also gonna be grown-ups now and they won’t care as much / be as selective as your high school mates. It’s so much easier to fit in.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
One of the most common tip to become confident is stepping out of your comfort zone so that in the end, what was a risk becomes your new comfort, but it’s easier said than done, right?
The first thing I did to force myself into stepping out of my comfort zone was to set myself small challenges. It could be reaching out to people, simply give compliments or going out alone, taking the car by myself, etc. But the more you do that, the more you become familiar with that kind of activities. As recently as a year ago or so, I was completely unable to get into the car and drive on my own. I bought a new car that I could trust and pushed myself to go to work with it. Now I’m making the trip back and forth every day and it has become a privilege to have that time to myself where I can listen to whatever I want, loudly or not, without being surrounded by crowds of all sorts of people and I arrive at work not being already sweaty and tired from my commute.
It is also good sometimes to take a few risks and give yourself that little push. When I got out of my last job interview, I knew it was gonna be terrifying if I had the job, but I was excited at the same time at the thought of doing that kind of work. For the last three days, I completely spent the whole day answering my phone and calling back and that was the part I was dreading because I’m a phone call phobic (if that is such a thing) and it used to be a real chore. So yeah, I got the job (it was almost nine months ago now) and everyday it helps me being a better person, as I learn to do things I never felt confident doing.
I also have to say that sometimes life happens, and in order to become independent you have to make that mandatory phone call, go to meetings and take appointments. That’s just routine and you have to get used to it.
Believing in yourself
One of the best advice I ever got and that I tell myself again and again every time I have an interview or have to give a speech is that if you don’t believe in what you have to say, nobody will. Everyone has their own fears, and people generally aren’t as impressive as they seem. In any case, experiences make you stronger, so we should embrace them whatever the outcome.
I guess my point is, we are who we are. And what matters is that we do our best to be our best self (yes, I like repeating words). If you’re an introvert just like me, I cannot recommend you enough to read Quiet, by Susan Cain. It taught me that being an introvert isn’t a condition but a personal trait that is as special as being an extrovert. Both are often complimentary and the qualities of an introvert are precious and numerous. Most importantly, it’s about being in sync with your temperament, and believing in who you are.
All in all, whenever you feel like your confidence is being shattered, know that you are strong and worth something to someone; and that every little obstacle will contribute in making you you and participate in revealing that confident version of yourself.