What is confidence? I found myself asking this question when a long-time friend said I was always confident. That’s a questionable statement. My silent response was something quite different — I never cared what anyone thought. I couldn’t care.
One definition of confidence is the sense of self-assurance stemming from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
I was an outsider my whole life. A quiet introvert accustomed to being seen through. Moving to a small town as a teenager was a hard transition. Everyone knew everyone since birth. I was described as socially awkward— even by a best friend of mine. She confessed before she knew me she thought I was weird.
Most teenagers put no thought behind their words; speaking their minds intensely and often. That’s the thing about teenagers, everything is categorized and labelled; and life is about perception.
The subconscious mind is drawn to solutions before the conscious mind is willing to find them. Oftentimes, I found myself in the middle of someone’s out-of-head rant and would simply tell them a thought of mine. Observe and report something out of the desire to help them. Even with little compassion or friendship, I did start to find more came to me for advice. Advice gladly given.
People let their guards down for anyone that genuinely cares for their well-being. I found myself surrounded by people’s darkest secrets. Those who came to me didn’t know why, nor did I. Now, I know now it was the journey God sent me on to find myself.
Keep in mind, those wanting to confide in someone came to me. I didn’t seek them out. Also, I always told the truth. The things needed to be said. Some accepting it as the truth; but some, rejected it.
The ones that rejected my truth took their guilt out on me. They never forgot; but I never told. I felt their guilt weigh me down as my burden; but I never blamed them. I always knew it was guilt we shared. If someone came to me, my goal was to ease their burdens. Instead, pain and burden were loaded onto me.
My point is if you are constantly surrounded by brokenness as your main support-system you tend to question your place in the world — your worth. I always knew I was different, therefore I accepted it.
Now, back to the definition of confidence — “the sense of self-assurance” and “appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” At the time, this did not describe me. I was content with myself, yes. And outwardly I kept my composure despite the lack of approval from my peers; but inwardly I wasn’t self-assure and definitely wasn’t appreciative of it. How was it that my friend saw me as a confident person when the definition of confidence is a reflection of your inward self-appreciation.
Most relationships I managed to accumulate were one-sided from broken souls. But this friend who saw me as confident shared a friendship with me that I cherished and still do to this day. She saw the best in everyone but when it came to her self-worth, she couldn’t see it. (We were similar in this way.) It was apparent she lacked confidence. I saw a diamond through the rough so I knew I had to show her she could shine.
Now my friend has struggled with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) her whole life, but adolescence peaked its intensity. She struggled with her self-image and did not see someone in the mirror she loved. It caused eating disorders, depression, emotional disorders and contributing to her lack in confidence.
Unlike me, she did not hide her feelings well. She had a large heart that was easily broken from the approval of peers. I used this to encourage her to love herself no matter what because despite circumstances you are who you are and it’s through these circumstances that define us. I guess we see the best in those we care about. Encouraging potential is the best way to see them soar. It gives them confidence and confidence is their wings.
Encouraging her also encouraged myself. I knew no matter who liked or disliked me, my intentions were always pure. Negative energy cannot be wasted on someone with good intentions. I began to actively tell myself this and pretty soon my mind was tricked into thinking more confidently. But still, I lacked appreciation. I gained self-assurance but never did I feel good in my skin.
After high school, your life isn’t analyzed by others as much and you begin to settle with who you are until something else throws you under the microscope.
Flash forward eight years, suddenly, I was pregnant, gaining a pound a week and self-conscious of my appearance. I told her this. She said it was because I never needed to worry about it. My weight had never been an issue before. It made sense and coming from someone who had body issues her entire life, it struck me hard.
Is confidence the act of subconsciously knowing you are socially accepted? My mind was blown. I felt a surge of panic. I didn’t know how to accept myself because I’d never had to look in the mirror and not like what I saw. I felt helpless and pathetic.
How did I ever feel empowered? The same person that gave my friend speeches about self-love and embodying who you are found herself eating her words. I felt like a fraud. But not accepting myself changed me. It made me see an image that I didn’t like. I became depressed. Because of this self-doubt I was able to reflect about things unexplored in this previous life and change my reasons for them.
What my friend failed to see was my inner self’s battle of self-worth. I was distracted with confidently portraying my inner-self, desperate to understand. Desperate for someone to connect with, I never thought about my outward appearance. But her words struck me because they were true. I had never had to be self-conscious about my appearance before.
This realization helped because I was able to apply my inner strength from my inner struggles to my outer strength for my newly developed outer struggles, but not just for my outward struggles. I was finally able to see that I couldn’t just give up! I decided that it was important to love myself for who I was. I was able to finally take the advice I’d given to my friend many times.
God saw my intentions and healed me. He taught me how to love myself as an “individual” not and “out dividual” person. In other words, I loved what I saw in the mirror for more than just an appearance, but for the essence of the person I saw. I began a journey to see my outward beauty in a confident manner again and the act alone was enough for immediate results even if it’s a long journey ahead.
I guess, confidence does not mean you don’t have self-doubt. It means you are able to see your true self and appreciate it despite your doubt. No other doubt should even matter.