Whether you look in the mirror and love what you see or dislike what you see, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all had confidence issues in our life. So, let’s talk about confidence.
I should make it clear that confidence does not have to be associated with physical appearance only, but with personality traits, habits, future goals or even your way of life. However – as writing this with no plan whatsoever – it seems bizarre to me how I started off this blog on the idea that confidence is associated with appearance. I did this completely subconsciously and I have accidentally added more substance to this blog than I had planned to do. But that’s ok – we’ll roll with it.
Society nowadays has pretty much drilled the idea of looking ‘perfect’ into most of our minds. The two most dangerous things in the 21st century aren’t Trump, Brexit or not achieving over one-hundred likes on Instagram, but are in fact social media and society. Smaller, perky butts or bigger, jiggly butts? Make-up or no make-up? Muscles, abs and a tight core or carrying a bit of meat on your bones? Designer or non-designer? Straight, gay or bi? White, black or brown? Why does it matter so much?!
Now, of course we all have our preferences and we all wish to look a certain way, but why must we promote one idealistic look amongst our society? Instead of loving ourselves and others, we look for something that seems ‘out of the norm’ and discourage or shun what we see that does not comply with society’s “expectations”. The scary thing is that, with our current society, this is done in such a scheming way. A way that we formally identify as memes. Shocker! Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all guilty of mocking others, even if all we do is laugh at a meme that was blatantly made to shun.
I don’t mean to be the ‘party pooper’ and I no doubt am guilty myself of laughing at memes like these, however this is a perfect example of what I mean. I won’t delve into explaining the joke for those who don’t understand, but this is an extremely demeaning picture that someone has made to get a laugh from their followers. What is it that makes the right picture perfect for the caption? The fact that this man is dressed as a lady? The fact that the person who made this picture has suggested that the person is copying Beyoncé’s selfie? Who knows?We all have different reasons. The point is that most of the time a ‘harmless’ meme of a generic person is made without their permission. Their picture is downloaded or screenshotted by someone who thinks, “This would get me a ton of likes!” and before they know it, they see their selfie or video on several pages with millions of viewers laughing at their expense. Long story short, social media and society can either make or break a person’s confidence.
One’s self-confidence nowadays seems to be dependent on what type of reaction they receive from the people around them. How many of you are guilty of this: You take – what you think is – a great picture of yourself. Perhaps you alter it slightly to take away any blemishes or make the filter exaggerate your eye colour. Then, the time comes to post it on Instagram. Within the first five minutes you receive one or two likes, before deleting it because you no longer feel like you look good enough for people. You no longer feel confident about this picture. Guilty… This potentially breaks a person’s confidence! What about if we flipped it? How many of you have had an overwhelmingly positive response from a picture of yourself? It feels great, right? This can make a person’s confidence! This is because we feel accepted. We feel like we’re good enough based on what other people think – 75% of which are people we don’t even know!
Let me make it clear that I am not talking on behalf of every single person on social media, but the majority that seem to have an overall consensus that we post what we think the majority will like.
Let’s get personal. For years – as far back as I can remember – I was bullied for my appearance. I was called “fat”, “spotty”, “ugly” and many more. I went to a primary school where my race was the minority, so I did often feel excluded because of that too. As young as seven (year three) I had a lack of self-confidence and I didn’t even realise it! I remember one time at break where I was sat on a step outside and soaked in multiple insults by a group of four boys that surrounded me. Tears poured down my face while insults about my appearance were hurled at me. Throughout primary school – and even up until year nine – these insults stuck with me. They became a part of me. My confidence was pretty much all reliant on my humour. From the age of four my sense of humour and ability to make people laugh around me became apparent and up until this day, if you know me, I am hilarious. Boys liked me in a friendly way because I was funny and I was into football (I was quite a ‘tomboy’ in primary school) but they never really liked me any more than a friend.
Why am I so confident about my humour? Because this was the only main positive attribute I was said to have. I’m always told I’m funny and I always have been told. My point? When you are persistently told something in life – positive or negative – you believe it. If you asked me if I think I’m funny, I would confidently reply with a yes. However, if you asked me two years ago whether I thought I was beautiful, I would first greet that question with a puzzled look before laughing awkwardly. Ask me now? I’d probably do the same but with a lot more confidence that I actually don’t look that bad! But an important message I wish for you to take away from reading this is to be confident within yourself. Do not rely on others to tell you what is good or what is bad about you. Nobody is perfect. When you become confident in something – whether it be a hobby, a subject in school, your appearance or improving social skills – you will succeed as long as you are confident and remain confident. Think I’m talking nonsense? Okay. Let’s get personal one last time.
In school, my weakest subject has always, always, always been maths. ALWAYS. Particularly in secondary school I became aware that being weak at this subject while being in a top-set class is torture. I was surrounded by people who knew what they were doing while I sat there staring at the clock or falling asleep with my head on the desk because I was unbelievably unconfident with myself. GCSEs crept up on me faster than I’d have liked and my biggest obstacle by a mile was maths. Mocks upon mocks were completed with disatisfaction and breakdowns. I had around four months to really put the work in. One lesson I remember my teacher handing me a sheet of paper on a topic that I had seen for the first time. Many around me were completing this with ease, whereas I was clueless. I decided enough was enough and I went home and revised this topic for hours on end. Before I knew it, I was teaching others this exact topic with undeniable confidence! With this, I obtained the ‘can-do’ attitude. I started believing in myself and slowly but surely I began seeing improved results. Peers and teachers around me saw this too. My confidence slowly grew.
So, having told you two of my personal experiences with confidence and a lack of, I would like to leave you with this: only you and your thoughts are in control of what you achieve in life. With persistent reminding that you are good enough, I promise you, you will start to see improvements. Do not let others bring you down and definitely do not change who you are to try and fit in with society’s norms. There is only one you. You will find that a lot of people gain fame or success by being different. Thoughts become things. Whether you constantly think negative or constantly think positive, you will begin to see a domino effect of your previous thoughts acting out right in front of your eyes. Wake up every day grateful that you can live another day. And finally, I will end on some quotes to think about.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“I found I was more confident when I stopped trying to be someone else’s definition of beautiful and started being my own.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
“Confidence is something you create within yourself by believing in who you are.”