What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Confident’? Does confidence mean being able to enter a room full of people you don’t know and to captivate everyone’s attention? To be confident, do you have to be loud and outgoing? Can everyone have confidence or is it merely a character trait of the extrovert? If so, what does confidence mean to an introvert?
It took me a long time to figure out what confidence meant to me. I grew up quiet and shy. In nursery, I couldn’t talk to adults. I merely nodded or shook my head to answer questions.
I was an out and out introvert. No one would have described me as ‘confident.’
Looking back, however, I realise that the confidence I have today has really been a character trait all along. At ten years old, I joined an out of school acting club, because I dreamed of being an actress. It was extremely out of character for me. I overcame my shyness in order to pursue an ambition. I was confident in myself. I pushed myself to do things that scared me because I wanted to do them. I didn’t let my shyness hold me back. I believed in myself and my ability. I never doubted that I could be an actress. I never thought about how I might fail.
I think a big part of becoming more confident is realising that it means something different to everyone. When we compare our own confidence to someone else’s, we diminish our own. There’s no use in wishing to be an extrovert who doesn’t get nervous for job interviews or who doesn’t get shy around new people. You’re always going to lose by comparing yourself to other people. But how do we stop comparing ourselves to others in a world where everyone’s lives are thrust into our faces via social media practically 24/7?
Twenty years ago, you would have no idea that your best friend from nursery now works for a top law firm in London. You would be blissfully unaware and pretty satisfied that you were doing well. But now, you know what everyone is doing, all the time. Suddenly you start to lose a bit of self-confidence. I’m not doing as well as them. Why haven’t I got what they have?
I would describe myself as being more confident today than I was as a child, simply because I am a little bit more extroverted than I was back then. However, when I start to think about how I see myself and my future, I realise that the truth is that I’ve probably lost a lot of the confidence I had as a shy ten-year-old who overcame her fears.
And why have I lost some of that confidence? Because I started to compare myself to other people. In High School, your world completely opens up. You suddenly see hundreds of people every day rather than dozens. Suddenly, you have way more competition in every way. Someone will always be smarter than you, or prettier than you or funnier or more talented.
It’s hard to have confidence in yourself if you think that there is always someone out there who can offer more.
How much time have you spent wasting comparing yourself to other people like this? Trawling through Instagram, wishing you were an Instagram model, or wishing you had that job or that relationship or that perfect lifestyle? Every time you do this, you lose a bit of yourself because you start wishing to be someone else.
It’s so cheesy but there is only one you. Only you can take charge of your life and only you have what it takes to pursue your future.
A few months ago, I was really hard on myself about not being where I wanted to be in life. I started to regret not doing certain things, I started to question whether I was smart enough or ambitious enough or whether I was too lazy. I started to blame myself for not living someone else’s life.
But then I asked myself: did I really want that other person’s life? The answer was no! I wanted my own life and my own ambitions. Why was I comparing myself to someone who had a job that I thought was boring and dire, simply because they were deemed ‘successful’?
My self-confidence changed the second that I stopped caring what other people think. If you aren’t where you want to be in life, take comfort in the fact that you know you aren’t satisfied, and that that’s the first step to moving forward with your life and your ambitions. Have confidence in yourself. Life is full of ups and downs and our dreams and ambitions don’t magically fall at our feet. We have to work hard for them! But the first step to doing that is to stop watching others and start looking out for yourself.
To be confident, stop comparing yourself.
It’s not about being loud or extroverted or the best at everything. It’s about being 100% yourself and taking pride in it.