1987: Why didn’t I just wear the clothes I really wanted to when I was a teenager? Why didn’t I hang around with the people that were the ones who didn’t care what I looked like? Why couldn’t I have just told the guy who I thought was the hottest thing since Simon Lebon, that we would be great together? Why couldn’t I express my real feelings when someone hurt me? Why was I so terrified to show up every day just as myself? Why was I so afraid to go after what I really wanted?
Why didn’t I know that all of us back then were feeling the same thing but were just too afraid to say it out loud?
Why is it that I can replace any of those sentiments above with updated versions today and realize we are all still afraid?
If I only knew what I know today….(how many times have you also said that?).
Here is the definition of confidence:
“A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”.
Often we only feel confident in other’s abilities and qualities, and never take into account our own. We appreciate that others seem to know what is best for not only themselves, but often, what they have no problem telling, without filter, what is best for us as well. I think this is where we get the “mean girl” perspective from. In high school there always seems to be the one or two girls that exude so much confidence you almost feel like just being around them will somehow allow you to absorb this super power of theirs. They are just a little bit cooler than everyone else. A little bit more wise to the world. A little bit more, well frankly, full of shit. How did I not see that the ones I admired so much back then were really just better at hiding their insecurities and self-doubts than the rest of us? No one is immune to this feeling of unworthiness.
However, as we get older and life starts to show us all its many different colors, thankfully we start to realize that just like any other feelings we have, confidence is as real as we allow it to be. You have heard the phrase before “fake it until you make it”? Well, there is a lot of truth to that. Mind over matter truly helps me exude confidence. Most often what we feel insecure about, or what we spend time worrying about, is just a figment of our own imagination. No one else can create the feeling of insecurities in ourselves except us.
True story: Up until I was in 4th grade, I used to break into tears every time I had to stand in front of the class and speak. Truly, it was tragic. Not until my very favorite teacher in the whole world, Mrs. Persinski, allowed me to do my oral report on Betsy Ross with my back to the class, did I realize I actually had something to say. I may have needed my teacher’s allowances to make me feel confident, and I am sure it looked a little strange to my peers hearing about Betsy as they looked at my back, but nonetheless, it was my first feeling of doing things “my way”. That feeling wouldn’t last very long, but for that moment, I think I was pretty much a rock star; a confident, 9 year old, Betsy Ross rock star. Or at least the back side of me was…..
(me in my Betsy Ross costume on that infamous day)
All of this to say, confidence is 100% up to us. It is up to us to feel like we are worthy of making our own choices for our life regardless of what our friends and family might think. Confidence is going after the job that everyone tells you is unrealistic, or you don’t feel qualified for. Confidence is standing up to the people in your life that may hurt you with words or actions just because it makes them feel like they are one step ahead or above you. Confidence is looking back on decisions you made in the past that probably didn’t benefit anyone, including yourself, and realizing they don’t define you today. Confidence is being able to say “I’m sorry”. Confidence is being able to accept someone else’s apology and not continue to hold past hurts against them. Confidence is wearing whatever the hell you want regardless of how many looks of disregard you receive. Confidence is being able to change the direction of your life at any time, at any age, at any crossroad without apologies. Confidence is to love unconditionally.
Sometimes we need the Mrs. Persinski’s of the world to enhance our confidence. But most days, we just need to realize that from the day we are born, confidence exists inside us. It is ready to be tapped into and ready to help you create a beautiful version of yourself that no one else can ever be. So, do me a favor, go introduce yourself to your confidence. Start slowly, a relationship takes time to grow, but I promise you that if you nourish it, it will be a friend worth having.
And yes, I wish I wasn’t 40 something and just now feeling this. I wish my younger self could have benefited from this awareness, but that is just the way it is. Does this new found confidence ever fail me? Of course. All the time. After all, the things and people we worry about as an adolescent never go away. They just become older and become different manifestations of themselves. They are always waiting around a new corner, acting like the wind that can so easily knock down a fragile flower. This is life. But, I now know that it is up to me not to allow it.
Girl, I Hear Ya!!