You've heard it all before. The magazine articles that shout tips on how to be more confident, the blog posts of people sharing their own confidence journeys and the people at the top of their game sharing mundane tips on how to have it all. The thing missing from each of these is the unknown. Building confidence isn't always an overnight hack, it comes with age, it comes with experience, it comes with knowledge, right?
I want to challenge that... If with a hint of contradictory life experience.
I spent my teens being pretty shy. I was confident throughout first school, if a little quiet in unknown situations, then I moved onto middle school where I was the bottom of the pecking order and there was a definite shift. I became quiet in all situations, I was the shy friend, I was the least likely to put myself out there and I constantly clung onto my close friends in order to get through social situations.
Truth be told, it wasn't until the past couple of years when I've felt that shift swing back to confidence. I am detached from the unimportant things that would knock me back, I'll push myself into unknown situations with little trepidation and I'll always quietly wish confidence on others that I can see myself in, because I know how much better it is on the other side.
The thing with confidence isn't always what it seems. There are confident people that are entirely faking it, there are confident people who have lived behind someone else their entire life and there are confident people who have no idea why they are that way. There is no solution and realistically, no tips to make someone confident overnight. The magic that I found? Just do it.
This may seem disappointing to share and for anyone suffering with a bout of low or no confidence, it's not the quick fix you were anticipating. But truthfully, as with most 'life changing' outlooks, you need to get on board yourself before you can take steps to achieving them. Whether it's being a fussy eater, a lack of confidence or even giving up a vice. No matter what the advice someone else gives to you, nobody is going to be able to help you if you don't help yourself - cliche, but so true.
I'm still not the most outgoing of my friendship groups and I'm still my introverted self, but at the same time, I have left behind never going first for something, never sharing my opinion for fear of it being challenged, never challenging myself because I might not get it right. I love that I'm an introvert, but being introverted and confident are not mutually exclusive. For me, they're a way to put your own personality spin on the other and do really well while doing it.
It's not a case of waking up one morning and leaving your shy self in the past. It's a case of accepting you want a change and making it. Small steps truly add up to something bigger. Here are some quick challenges to get your confidence growing...
- Volunteer to go first in a group situation. Whether it's at work sharing an idea, during an event or activity with your friends, or making the first move with that person of interest
- Share your opinion, even if you don't want to enter into a drawn out debate. Share your opinion even if it differs from the group and share your reasons why
- Educate yourself. An easy one that you can do in your comfort zone. Knowledge really is power, educate yourself on a completely new interest area, a topical news story you've kept in your peripheral vision, a world issue you've always wanted to know about. You'll be surprised at how often a seemingly isolated interest will feed into so much more
- Challenge others, if only for healthy debate. Not every challenging conversation needs to be an argument, it can be an activity to get you thinking about other mindsets or an education
- Whatever you do, don't finish your thoughts with "..but I might be wrong" or "but that probably doesn't matter", you're raining on your own confidence boost of sharing your thoughts in the first place.
Start small, put yourself out there in whatever situation is relevant to your life. Move on to bigger and better and the rest will follow.