The Road to Self-Confidence – I’ve Almost Reached My Destination

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Mel Minton Natural Afro Woman
"Keep On Keepin' On!" — Photo Credit: Mel Minton

We’ve all faced situations that make us feel the few things we do wrong outweigh everything else. The road to self-confidence isn’t easy but it is possible.

We’ve all faced them – Doubts and lack of self-confidence. People and situations that make us feel the few things we do wrong outweigh everything else. Being unsure if what we have to offer is of value, or if we are good enough.

So how do we see past those things to who we truly are and our value? Or speaking personally, how do I see past those things? I ask myself this question a lot – every time I make a mistake, every time I have a “crazy” idea, or want something that seems out of reach. With time these questions plague me less and less, but they still arise often enough for me to have this conversation with myself, and by extension, with you.

I can’t take credit for everything here – my relationship with God and some wonderful mentors and loved ones have taught and reinforced the list below. As well, (un)fortunately, I am my own harshest critic, and I’ve spent a lot of time examining myself to enhance my strengths and be aware of my weaknesses. As a result, here are five concepts that are actively aiding my journey to self-confidence:

 

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1. Everybody Feels It and Everyone is on their own journey

An important step for me is realizing that everybody feels moments of low self-confidence, whether or not it is publicized. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone has moments of fear, self-doubt, and uncertainty, and we are not isolated in our own anxieties. It’s easy to look at Facebook or Instagram and feel like you haven’t accomplished as much as the next person. But Social Media aside, we are surrounded everyday by people that have what we would like, or what we are told we should want. And being bombarded by these things, but not knowing how or IF to achieve them can make things confusing and seem out of reach.

Personally, I am owning who I am in the present and what I want (or don’t want) for myself. Some of this ownership is pretty instantaneous, where I know immediately if something is for me or not. Other things become clear over time, and that’s ok. (Note to self….. THAT’S OK.)

 

 

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2. Our Experiences Validate Us, but We Should Keep Learning

We live in a time when you cannot have enough education. (You can’t pay enough for it either – #EpicSideEye) And unfortunately, many of us are judged by our levels of education or lack thereof. Opportunities are given or withheld, and our efforts and opinions are substantiated by where we learned them and for how long, who taught them, and how much we paid for them. It can be easy to feel inadequate when we face those with higher or “better” credentials than our own.

But here’s something to note, and while this does not apply to all disciplines, it does hold true in many aspects of life – Someone else’s book knowledge does not negate what you know first-hand. If what someone else knows in theory, you know in reality, you are also an “expert” and you bring just as much value to the table. You offer a fresh perspective and can provide solutions based on real-life experience. This is DEFINITELY something I am learning. It is not an excuse to stop learning, or be a know-it-all, but it is helpful to know that the things that have made me who I am also make me credible to speak to them.

There is a balance though, of knowing what I know, but still being open to learn MUCH more. A healthy dose of humility goes a long way towards HEALTHY self-confidence.

 

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3. Love Really Is All We Need

Insert chorus from Mary J. Blige’s song….. and stop. It’s pretty simple – surround yourself with people that LOVE you. This is NOT to say only people that say nice things, because that is not always love. But if you are blessed to have people in your life that build you up and offer you constructive criticism (i.e., observations AND suggestions for improvement), keep them around. And return the favor. These people will help you to see the good in you that you sometimes can’t see yourself, and will make your obstacles seem less overwhelming. These are the people that will pull you up when you’re slipping and slap you up when you’re tripping – – yes… I said that. And it is so necessary sometimes.

 

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4. Preparation

My most profound moments of self-doubt come when I feel I’m taking on something I may not be prepared for. Granted, we will not be able to prepare for everything in life, and sometimes we are far more prepared than we believe. Some things come and have to be taken in stride, but there are also times where (self) assessment is called for…. am I ready? Will my weaknesses hinder what I can accomplish or contribute? Can I strengthen some of them so that I feel more comfortable and confident in myself? I am actively changing my perspective – Until recently, I viewed preparation as almost a waste… the time I spent PREPARING would be better spent DOING. Or the time I spent preparing would cause me to lose an opportunity. I’ve made enough missteps or hit enough glass ceilings, though, to know that there is merit to preparedness.

That is not to say that preparation requires that you stop what you are doing. With the right mindset, of continuous self-improvement, and learning lessons and addressing issues as they arise, you can still move forward. Use wisdom to know when you should pause or keep going.

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5. Patience, Patience, Patience (especially with self)

Things don’t always go exactly how I want them to. I make mistakes, and will continue to. I say the wrong things, at the wrong time or with the wrong tone. I drop the ball every now and then. I sing the wrong note, send the wrong email, forget a deadline, oversleep, take frustrations out on those I love ….. uggh…… My limitations are inevitable and seem to be endless.

But I do some things right, and for most of the things that I don’t, I’m willing to learn. That’s really all I can do. Patience and time will get me all the way where I am supposed to be.

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I say alllllll of this to say, if complete self-confidence had a roadmap, I think I am heading in the right direction and well on my way. I’m grateful for this journey, and I’m hoping those of you that feel how I do will come along with me 🙂

 

As we take the spotlight off ourselves and our feelings, and start to empathize with people around us, I’m challenging us (myself included) to aid in boosting the self-confidence of others. I intend to watch my words and delivery, and really examine my heart and intentions. If any of these are “off”, or would cause more harm than good, I am challenging myself to just stop.

We’re all in this together.

Faith. Hope. Love. Healing

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