When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t. – Jodi Picoult.
I have to be honest- I totally googled “Confidence quotes,” and this was amongst the quotes I found. Whoever Jodi is, what she said is spot on, and truly resonates with me. This is something I battle with frequently- and I’m sure tons of others do too. a million people could give me positive reinforcement, but it’s always the one negative comment that I dwell on. My last blog focused on having confidence in your appearance, but today I want to dive deeper, and write on total self-confidence. Confidence is something I still have to work on everyday; it doesn’t come naturally yet. Some people just live and breathe confidence, it’s not something they have to read or write about, it’s just innate. Just as confidence in my outer beauty was, inner confidence has been, and continues to be, something I consciously think about and try to enforce in myself. While it’s still a work in progress, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years.
1. Stop trying to please everyone else without considering your own happiness.
I’m the worst for this, but I try everyday to get better. And being a people-pleaser does relate to self-confidence. As a people-pleaser, you become absolutely blinded by what the people around you want, whether it’s your colleagues, your superiors, or your loved ones. It can become so blinding, that you lose the ability to think for yourself, without realizing it. For example, all throughout high school I was certain I would go to university for some sort of arts degree, specifically focused in writing. It’s always been my passion and I always excelled in my English classes, unlike math class which was absolute torture. When it came time to make the decision of where to apply, I discussed it with my family, guidance counsellors, teachers, everybody around me was involved in this decision. Much to my dismay, I received a ton of negative feedback when I told people that I wanted to pursue the arts. I was told that the only way to make money was to get my math grades up and go into business. As a people-pleaser, I thought this was the only way, so I took a summer math course with the hopes of boosting my grade and from there, getting accepted to a good business school. Well, that math grade ended up being pretty terrible even though I dedicated hours per day to it, and while I was researching business schools, I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted at all, it was what everyone else wanted me to do. When I began actually looking into arts programs around Canada, I knew instantly that it was exactly what I wanted.
You may wonder how a big decision like this and confidence relate. Going against the grain and doing something other than what’s expected of you takes a ton of self-confidence. For me, I had to look within myself to realize that business wasn’t for me, despite a ton of outer influences. I followed a path that I forged myself, and there can be no regret in that. That was one personal feat I had in terms of confidence.
2. Sometimes the only person who will believe in you, is you.
Everyone has dreams, and I don’t mean the ones that happen while you sleep. I mean those so called “pipe-dreams”. Whether your dream is to go to the Olympics, move away to a deserted island, or to do anything else that’s out of the ordinary, these are all things that are considered pipe-dreams; they are dreams or goals that people have that seem impractical or impossible. Everyone’s definition of “ordinary” is different, but from a western society’s perspective, the typical norm is something along the lines of: Get a degree, get a “real” 9-5 job, buy a house, get married, have children, retire, die. I’m not putting down anyone who lives this life, or anyone who wants to. It is a shame, however, that this lifestyle has become so mainstream, that the people who want to live lives that don’t fit the western mold are constantly discouraged and immediately discredited. While it is extremely hard to do what you want to do rather than what’s expected of you, the people who have the most inner confidence and peace are the ones who followed their own paths. It won’t be easy to follow your own dreams, as cynical people will try to break you down and deter you from the road less travelled. Just remember, the people who laugh in your face had dreams once too, and it’s most likely that they too had someone laugh in their face and tell them their dreams were stupid. It takes confidence to ignore the nay-sayers and to continue strong on your own path. You are the source of your confidence, not the jerk who forgot how to dream. Always remember that.