I think it’s important that I start this blog by stating that I have never been particularly confident. In fact, I would say for the majority of my life I have been quite the opposite. I have been shy, nervous and uncomfortable around others for… well, the majority of my life.
I think, honestly, I have always been afraid of being seen. I was afraid of doing things wrong and not living up to my own, and other people’s, expectations of who I was as a person. It’s a sad and lonely place to be, thinking that everything you say, do or look like has the potential to be inherently wrong or bad.
This was the case until very recently. At the age of 27, I decided that the fear of being seen had had its time. I have lived 27 years being afraid of who I might be because that person could in some way be wrong, or fall short. Because of that, I now feel like I don’t know who I actually am.
This apprehensive approach to being hasn’t served me in any real way. It hasn’t stopped me making mistakes, it hasn’t stopped me from disappointing people and it hasn’t stopped me from feeling inadequate. If anything, it’s made those feelings all the more real instead.
So, with nothing to show for 27 years of this fear, I was bored of it and decided to make a change. It sounds like an idealistic, almost romantic concept to say that one day you can decide to change your life. But you can.
It doesn’t all happen at once. It takes days, weeks, months and even years to put changes in place but in one moment, you can decide to make a change and commit to it. For me, the change came in deciding to accept anxiety, fear or a lack of confidence, feel it and move through it. I decided to find out who I was when I moved with this fear, now away from it.
Your feelings won’t kill you – and they don’t need to stop you either. I still have to regularly remind myself of this. The feelings haven’t disappeared – when I walk into a new space or talk to a stranger, I still feel nervous, but I look at why I’m feeling that way, accept that it’s generally quite a normal response and then tell myself I am going to keep moving through it.
I would never have believed, even 2 years ago, that I could feel like or be the person that I am today – someone who takes on new challenges with excitement and not dread – but each small step has added up to create a new voice in my head that says ‘you can do it!’ when the old voice says that I can’t.
Building confidence in yourself and your abilities is (here comes the cliché) a journey. It’s not linear, it won’t happen over night but it’s so, so worth it. Because of that, I thought I’d share 10 things that have helped me in the pursuit of self confidence in the hope that they might help or encourage you too.
10 ideas to start building your confidence
Be honest with yourself. When you’re honest with yourself about what you’re afraid of or struggling with you can start to identify the things you can do to change the situation and help yourself.
Start a conversation. People are nicer than you think and the more you speak to people, the easier it becomes.
Travel solo. You learn to rely on and trust yourself so much more. Plus its a great chance to see who you are and what you enjoy without anyone else’s influence.
Do something for a good cause. This can often put you in a new environment but it’s easier to stay motivated when you’re not just doing something for yourself.
Listen to other people’s stories. Whether that’s books, podcasts or talking to someone new, you’ll learn that you’re not alone in facing different challenges but that it’s also possible to grow because of them.
Talk honestly with people. This is something I’ve only recently started doing and it’s really opened my eyes to how much people keep things bottled up. We can all do so much more to support each other when we’re open.
Tackle a fear. This is a big one, but think about small steps you can take towards addressing a fear and reducing the impact it has on your life. Each time you do this will help to show you that you’re more capable than you first thought.
Do something you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably put off things you want to do because you don’t think you’d be able to do it. Make it happen. Show yourself that you can make it happen.
Understand that it won’t always be easy. But that’s part of the process of building your confidence. It’s not easy, but it will get easier. Keep your goal in mind when you have setbacks.
Celebrate your successes. No matter how big or small, it’s important that you recognise and celebrate the changes you’re making – it will motivate you to keep going!
Your list may look quite different to mine, but just remember that the first step is the most important – and that you’re always doing this for you. It’s not about convincing other people of what you can do.
The thing that keeps me going now is that I want to prove to myself, and the person that I was for 27 years, that I can do it. That I will do it. That I will keep on doing it.
Choose to invest in yourself.