“Nothing is sexier than confidence!” They say, whoever “They” are. I’ve heard this a million times throughout my life, but it wasn’t until I had said confidence that I fully understood what all of the hubbub was about. I used to think how you could get such a thing, this elusive confidence junk. Growing up I thought you had to be rich to have confidence. Fortunately, you can’t buy confidence. You can’t grow it on a tree, either. Sorry.
So, what is confidence? What does it feel like? What does it look like? And most importantly…”How do I get some of that stuff?!?!?!” I hear you loud and clear! So, let’s explore this together, shall we?
What is confidence?Webster’s gives us this as definition:
: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
: a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
: the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true
Not exactly what we’re told it is. It’s like the golden friggin’ ticket! I think we must look at this less literally and more culturally, yeah? Okay, looking at what confidence means in the world at large you may think of celebrities and models and athletes and the like. What may surprise you is that most of these types of people, just like us regular folks, have insecurity issues or lack confidence. “What?! How can that be? They’re on T.V. and Movies and win trophies and medals! They CAN’T be insecure!” Well, they are! Not sorry to be the one to tell you but let me share my own realization on this part.
Years ago I was reading an interview with Gwen Stefani in some magazine (who knows which one, I used to have a heavy mag addiction). She was sharing her experience in photo shoots and specifically the one for that magazine. She said when she arrived they had racks and racks of clothes for her, but most didn’t fit her at all! She felt like crap! She thought they were experts + magicians and surely they would make her look amazing for their magazine and would be mega prepared and have her sizes, etc. Not so much. She said she isn’t a confident person and often feels super gross about herself but loves her job so much that she is constantly pushing herself through these situations so that she can keep doing it. And to me that was the key!
If someone as amazing and gorgeous and talented as Gwen Stefani feels gross about her body, about herself and must push herself to get through things that are uncomfortable for her, then surely there is hope for the likes of me! And with that little nugget of wisdom safely tucked away in my brain box, I started to look at my life a bit differently. This whole comfort zone thing for one! Oh how I used to fight change! I would dig in my heels and insist my (now ex) husband not move the furniture, ever! Ha-ha!
I see confidence as something intangible yet entirely apparent upon seeing or speaking with a person. They needn’t be glamorous or exceptionally beautiful or handsome or whatever. They don’t have to be talented or articulate or elegant at all. Confidence is just that little something, that twinkle in the eye, that tells you they are a-okay! My perfect example of this would be Bill Clinton. There is a guy with confidence. I wouldn’t call him particularly good looking (but perhaps my taste is a bit odd). He’s not the most elegant or dashing of a fellow. Yet he has something that makes you want to listen to him when he speaks and a natural way with how he connects to people. I’ve heard many stories of people having a conversation with him at a party or other crowded place and they all say that he made them feel as though it was just the two of them having private chat.
I think of Sophia Loren and just how she carries herself (I love that she claims her youthfulness and longevity are due to a lifetime of eating spaghetti). There is an ease with which the confident person walks through the world and interacts with it. I’m not talking arrogance here at all! I’m talking about how people can be so comfortable in their own skin that when you talk to them, or know them, it’s never really about them, they can set all of that aside and focus on you.
What does confidence feel like? Well, that’s a bit difficult to describe, but I would say that it feels relaxed. There is a tension that disappears, though not permanently, and a greater sense of being present. I often talk of being present and living in the moment, but I don’t mean that we should all be impulsive and run amok. Hardly! I am speaking more of mindfulness and being more attuned to your own immediate feelings and needs. How else can we help and serve others if we are distracted by our own lack of something?
Let’s all agree that perfection is a myth and stop using it to refer to people or their looks. Can we agree to that? It’s all relative anyway, right? Perfection to some is a big hot mess to others, so let’s just set all of that aside and move on. Confidence looks like everything and nothing at once. Confidence looks like that girl who has that sort of messy hairdo yet always somehow looks pulled together. Ha! Confidence looks like a quick stumble, but no fall, and being more than happy to laugh at yourself.
So here’s what I always wanted to know…”How do I get some of that STUFF?!?!?”
The short answer: With practice! Ha-ha! But it’s true! You can actually fake it until you “make” it in this case. Which is awesome. Part of faking it is just little mental tricks and games, right? So have fun with it! Actually, having fun is really the key for me when it comes to this topic. Because I know when I’m having fun I’m not worried about the bajillion things spinning around in my head. Often when I’m not feeling my best I will try to remember the last time I had some real fun and I try to keep that memory/feeling with me so I can power through my day.
What’s that? You don’t like the whole fake it until you make it thing? Um, okay. Well…
Think of your favorite quality or attribute about yourself. If you can look at it or touch it, do so and smile. Now think of the one thing you dislike or would change about yourself. If you can look at it and touch it do so, but also say something super nice to that part of you. If you can’t manage a compliment, try something neutral like, “Belly, I wish you a long and healthy life without pain.” simple enough. Do this often! Do this for other parts of you. Do this for your thighs and your temper and your arms and your butt!
If that seems super hard, you can go about this in a different way. Every time you say something nice to someone else, you must also say the same or similar things to yourself. We say a lot of mean stuff to ourselves and that shit counts, even if it’s only in your head. We must stop the self hate speech, internal or external, now!!! It’s toxic and you are actually hurting yourself. I’m not at all saying that you have to be so happy that frolicking is now a major part of your lifestyle (My body, My choices! Ha-ha!), but I am saying that being gentle and kind to yourself is so important and you will feel better…with practice!
Confidence is no overnight thing. There’s no cream or audio tape or hack for it. These aren’t the only ways to attain confidence, but it’s what has worked for me. I’m not the most confident girl in the world, but I do consider myself confident overall. I still have anxiety and moments of wanting to hide, but I work hard to not let them get out of control or rule my life. I must stay mindful of how I’m feeling in a given moment and honor that and care for myself as best I can in order to stay confident and push myself out of my comfort zone when it fancies me.
I would say that the biggest aspect of gaining more confidence for me is simply choosing to stop caring about what other people think of me. I don’t have to be liked by everyone. They didn’t hire me at my new job because they wanted to be my bff. I have talents and abilities and a shiny personality and that is what they wanted. When I chose to let go of that worry, that weight and that burden, that caring so much about what others thought of me, I felt freer and happier, period. That part, I think, anyone can do. No purchase necessary! 😉
Everyone is different, though, and I’m so glad for that. So some of this may seem like old hat to you but a revelation to someone else. If you know that looking in the full length mirror or taking an outfit picture before you go out is triggering for you, stop doing it! If, on the other hand, those things give you a little boost? Do them often! The mirror and photos are tricky things. They can hurt and help. You have control over them, though. Never forget that! And please, never forget that you have a voice and a story and you deserve to be heard. Ditching the people in your life who bring you down is a very hard and very necessary thing (in my opinion). I know it’s not so easy or possible for everyone, but I can attest to the goodness that my life has produced as a result of letting go of other people’s baggage.
Stay true to you and rock on with your bad self! 😉
Mine seems to come and go. It is funny because i feel like a pretty confident person EXCEPT for when it comes to love and relationships. I don’t understand. It is something that i need to work on for sure.
Heidi: Omz! Me too! Or I should say, especially my current relationship! Ugh! What is that about? I know that what often attracts someone to me is my confidence, so how do I lose it when someone I super like is into me? Ha-ha! We’re a silly species, us humans! Ha-ha!