• a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
Let's face it, no one has ever been 100% confident (apart from Jesus, of course). We worry about the perception others have of us because of our looks, the things we do or we wonder how people will react to our actions. We live in a cage of self-doubt.
It's time to break out.
Becoming confident is not something that's easy-peasy. As the suffix, "-ing" suggests, it is a continuous process, it is a journey. It takes time to become confident. You can't just wake up one morning and go from the shyest person in the world to the most confident one.
You might not know this because you only know me through my words - I used to be ridiculously shy and introverted, but now....but now, I'm not.
I will share my story with you and then I will leave you with tips on how to become more confident.
MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING CONFIDENT
From a pretty young age, I had been bullied, as some of you already know and that led to me deciding that it was best for me to try to be like the people who were bullying me, I tried to dress like them, get my hair done like theirs and so on, but that still didn't make them accept me.
My mum, brother and I don't look alike. I'm dark-skinned while my mum and brother are fair-skinned (with my brother being a bit tanned). Back in Nigeria, people believed (and some still believe) that being light-skinned or white makes you more beautiful than a dark-skinned person. So people made comments about it saying that, my mum is so beautiful and asking me (as a kid) why I'm not fair (some used the word, "white") like my mother and asking why I wasn't fair like my brother to the point that I would go up to my mum, rub my skin against hers and ask, "mummy, am I getting any fairer?" To read more about this story check out my blog post: What you tell a little girl about her looks
A few days before my 14th birthday, I decided to go natural (to stop chemically straightening my hair and to grow out my hair in its natural state). At the hair salon my mum went to, the owner called my decision a "phase" and said that I'll change my mind about it and not be able to handle dealing with my own hair soon. Random people told me to straighten my hair, said my hair was "due" (term used in Nigeria meaning, 'due for a relaxer'(chemical straightening)), referred to my hair as not being beautiful because it was not straight and said that I would look beautiful if I got a relaxer.
My teeth, my neck, my weight, my un-African behind were all made fun of.
I had a whole lot of issues with myself to the point that I didn't know who I was as I was trying to become the "accepted image of a girl." I lived in a cage where self-worth was not allowed. I "fixed" one thing about me and another thing that needed to be "fixed" found.
At the age of 14, my journey started. I told myself that I wasn't going to change my hair just to please others as I had spent most of my life with straight hair to the point that I did not know what my natural hair looked or felt like. My mum decided to go natural too because of all the people that had the audacity to try to make me feel bad about my hair.
Although I took this stand and stayed natural, I didn't really do anything else, I still lived in my cage.
When I was 15, I decided to join the swim club at my school. However, I had surgery scars on my arms that I was so nervous about to the point that I did not want to get into the pool because I believed that people would make fun of my scars or refer to them as, 'disgusting.' The only way I was going to let myself get in that pool was if I had a shirt on over my swimsuit and that was not possible. (I am going to mention someone's name here because I really appreciated what she said to me and I haven't really thanked her for it yet). A girl, named, "Morountodun" who happened to join the swim club too realised that I was so nervous about getting in the pool and when she asked and I told her why, she said something along the lines of, "just get in the pool. I won't let anyone make fun of your scars and get away with it." So, although timidly, I got in the pool. Now, now, why was this so special? No one might know this (and I doubt that anyone remembers the scars), but I silently considered Morountodun to be one of the most influential people in our year group at school at that time so this was a really big deal to me. (If you're reading this, Morountodun, thank you so much for what you said to me).
Unfortunately, despite this and no one daring to make fun of my scars, I still lived in my cage.
At 17, I had a messy fallout with a friend which led to me losing some friends (I'm not going to get into this story) and THIS is what actually led to the start of my journey.
People who I was close friends with stopped talking to me and some people started acting weird around me because of things that had been said about me, rumours passed around about me and people fearing what other people might do or say if they spoke to me. This was weird as it seemed to happen over night.
I needed to get to the bottom of this and I needed to make some new friends too as, let's face it, everyone needs friends so I decided to not only go on a shameless journey, but to also do at least one thing that scared me daily. This started as the scariest thing ever, but ended up being something fun as I started to look forward to what might come up that would scare me or make me nervous that I would have to conquer.
So, let's start with the friends not talking to me "issue". One of my "closest" guy friends at the time happened to be one of the people that stopped talking to me and this was for all the reasons stated above. I wanted to talk to him about why he wasn't talking to me because I didn't know his reason at that time. This was the scariest thing ever. I would walk up to where I knew he was every evening, I would practically start gasping for air, my heart would be beating so hard and I would start shaking so I would always walk away without opening the door to talk to him.
On a particular day, I walked up the stairs to where he was, opened the door, took a step in and asked, "can I speak to you?" There was someone with him so I asked if he could step out into the hallway. I ignored my heart beating, my breathing, the shaking and just asked, "why aren't you talking to me and why are you just ignoring me?" I got his answer (was irritated by it, I'm sure you can guess why) and I walked away knowing that this journey was going to be amazing. (I'm crazy, I know. Haha!)
I can't remember all the things I did that scared me, but I remember doing at least one thing daily and some included sending particular emails or texts, speaking to people for the first time, joining a dance group and working out in front of people.
Slowly, but surely, I was breaking out of my cage.
The summer before and the summer after leaving college, I went to the Hillsong Conference in London. Everyone there seemed so extroverted, hugging each other, talking to each other, dancing and I guess I felt weird just standing there (plus the music was ON POINT) so, I started dancing and that was the first time I had ever danced in a church setting, danced without caring who was watching in public and lifted my hands up.
At social events hosted by my college or someone I schooled with at college, I wasn't afraid to dance and have a good (sober) time with my friends. Unlike when I started at college.
The summer before I started uni (shortly after I got back from the Conference), I donated most of my clothes and decided to go shopping to buy things that reflected who I was more. I switched my flats to heels and took on a more polished and dressed up look because that was what I felt more comfortable in. To read more about this story, check out this blog post: I never needed to become who others made me feel I should be
Uni started and although I wasn't the first to speak, I made friends and the number of friends I had grew and grew and from thinking I was a quite girl, who didn't do much or say much, my new friends realised that I was actually crazy (in a good way). Haha! I wasn't afraid to laugh out loud, I wasn't afraid to wear what I wanted to, I wasn't afraid to do or say whatever I wanted to. I was and I still am pretty confident in myself.
I'm going to end the story time here and in my tips on how to be more confident, I am going to share the other things I did (and still do) on this journey.
HOW TO BE MORE CONFIDENT
- Look at yourself in the mirror daily and say, "hello, beautiful." Study your features and find things that you really like about your looks.
- If you are comfortable in them, wear a pair of heels. Walking around in heels has been said to boost women's confidence in some studies. You could wear heeled boots, sandals or courts. If you're not comfortable in heels, get your favourite show style and rock those babies!
- Wear red. Everyone looks good in red once they find the perfect shade for them. The colour red also boosts your confidence (as some studies and person experience shows). I feel like I can take on the world in a red top.
- Do at least one thing that scares you daily or go on a shameless journey. Dance like no one's watching, talk to people, perform on stage, give a bunch of speeches.....
- If people say you can't do something (that doesn't put your life at risk), strive to prove them wrong.
- Surround yourself by positive and happy people
- If something seems impossible, strive to make it possible
- Smile at random people you walk past
- Don't let failures bring you down. Making a mistake or failing at something is not the end of the world.
- Think positively even when things don't work out how you hoped they would or people disappoint you.
- Stand tall, with your head up and back straight when walking (or bring stationary).
- Make eye contact with people when you speak to them.
- Notice the things you're good at, appreciate them, and if possible, do them whenever you can.
- Accept complements instead of trying to make them seem false or like flattery. Say, "thank you," and accept the complement.
- Help others. Do volunteer work or just help those around you with tasks they might be carrying out.
- Give complements to others.
- Always expect success even if you have failed at a lot of things.
Okay! That's it.
I hope you enjoyed this blogpost and that you begin your journey towards being more confident soon. :)
"Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her." - Lao Tzu
"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