Building Self Confidence: An anecdote of a woman of color

From a very young age, I was always the self-confident girl, or so I thought. I grew up with the mentality of a ‘front liner’, and as such was well known and recognized all through elementary school, serving all through as class leader in all the classes I was in. In trying to be modest, I would also add that I was always amongst the best 3 students, which made me more famous, or so to speak. With that same mindset, I went on and attended one of the best high schools in my country at the time, and carried along with me that same self-confident mentality all through college, and even unto my early working years. I never for once imagined that one day; I would become so unsure of myself to the extent that I would be unable to express myself, until I migrated to the US. And for the first time, the reality of living ‘within myself’ hit me.

You see, I am the type of person that believes in simplicity. Wherever I find myself, I always try to seek out the ‘least-stressful’ ways to accomplish anything. That is a gift I know I possess, and one I always try to bring to bear in all my professional commitments. Therefore, when I found myself becoming unable to express myself in certain situations, a complete divergence from whom I knew I was, I became concerned for myself. For example, I would have an easy solution to a problem, but because I was concerned about how my uniquely beautiful accent would be perceived (mind you, I speak complete and undiluted English language), I would just keep mum and wallow with the rest of the team in silence. This became so distressing for me, until I made the decision to do a complete turnaround, and that decision obviously paid off because, today, I organize and lead team meetings, and also give presentations with the same self-confident attitude of my ‘child-hood’ girl.

Are you being held back by the fear of what people might say, or how you may be viewed by others? Do you have an innate ability that is being repressed for fear of not being accepted or celebrated for who you are? Do you look at the mirror and wish you had been created in a different way? Are you failing to gift the world with that special talent that has been deposited inside you? If the answer to any of the preceding questions is yes, please know that you are not alone. I have been in your shoes before, and I know exactly how that feels. There are so many people like you out there, who would be willing to just do anything so that they can live to the fullest of their potentials.

Building self-confidence takes time and effort, and requires a personal decision on your part, especially if you have been repressed for a while. It takes guts and courage to decide to step out from your comfort zone, and begin to portray yourself in a different light. It takes constant practice and determination to get to where you become most comfortable with yourself, because there will definitely be situations that come up to veer you off the road to achieving self-confidence. You have to be ready to break loose from that cage of self-loathing and self-pity, and be determined to bring out the best in you in the face of oppositions, and whatever odds may be stacked up against you.

Evi

In order to develop and get to the point where you become truly confident to speak your mind and express yourself with all the talents that are embedded in you, you must be willing to pay a price. You must realize that change is tough, and sometimes resisted. Even though in your heart, you may want to have the liberty to release all the beautiful gifts that are embedded in you, your head/mind, may not be on board with what your heart wants to achieve, because it may/or may not be used to that. You may have trained your mind not to voice out your opinions about certain things, or certain concepts because of the fear of being judged, or looked down upon. Therefore, in deciding to turn all that around and making a 360 degrees reversal of what your head has been used to, you may be met with self-judging and reprimanding, which if not careful may prevent you from actually becoming the confident person that you truly desire.

Building self-confidence is a journey that begins with a self-decision. You have to get to the point where you realize that you have been short changing yourself all along, and decide for yourself to freely express the innate potentials that you are loaded with. You have to be aware that you may be judged in your journey, and be resolute not to allow that realization pull you down. With this in mind, you can confidently take the first step towards a fulfilling journey of building your self-confidence. These are 5 steps that worked for me, and I am excited to share them with you:

  1. Know yourself for you: To truly get to the point where we become confident to express ourselves no matter the circumstances, we have to truly understand who we are. We have to carry out soul-searching exercises to discover who we are. Know your personality type. Are you a melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic or choleric person? Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Are you a moody person or the type that finds fun and laughter in anything that goes by you, no matter how silly it may seem? Are you an extrovert or introvert? This is the first key step to developing self-confidence. You have to appreciate the fact that there is no one else on earth like you. You are uniquely different, and your unique characteristic sets you apart from the rest. Never pressure yourself to make a change on you, if you are not totally on board with it. You must be realistic on the degree of change that you can, or are willing to accommodate. This is the necessary first step that you must make, in your journey to developing the self-confident you.
  2. Appreciate you for who you are: Once you now have a sense of who you are, and have made adjustments to make the changes that you are able to, then you must appreciate you, for who you are. For example, I had to appreciate that I indeed have a very sweet, beautiful and unique accent, and that made me step out of my shell. No one can truly love you, if you do not truly love yourself. You must appreciate ‘the you’, and be comfortable with ‘the you’ that you are. At this stage, you should care less about other people’s opinions of you, and focus on perfecting ‘the you’ that you have crafted. You must applaud your own strengths, and work to diminish the impact of your weaknesses. You must celebrate the inner you, and be appreciative of what you have or do not have. At this stage, you should not be wishing you were somebody else, or created in some other way. When you arrive at this point, you are content with the real you-the inner you. You are proud of your goals, accomplishments and failures. You become your greatest cheer leader. You are at the point where you care less about any faults or shortcomings that you may still have, and instead extol all the positive attributes that you have. In appreciating ‘the you’, you get to the point where all you see about yourself is more of the good, and less of anything short of that. You are at the point where you are your own champion and beat the loudest drums about yourself, not in a proud and arrogant way, but in a modest and self-satisfying manner which serves to bolster your inner strength and passion, and enhances your self-confidence.
  3. Speak to that mirror: I mean literally ‘a mirror’. You have to learn to be comfortable with who you are, and this may require you to say to yourself those things you want to be known for or associated with. Self-confidence doesn’t spring up overnight; it requires constant grooming in order to get to the point where you become a 100 percent comfortable in your own skin. One important way to let the new realization about you sink in, is to speak to that mirror-I mean the literal mirror. You need to stand in front of the mirror and say those things about yourself that you wish to become. You need to look into your own eyes and tell yourself that you can achieve anything you desire to achieve, because you have the capacity to do it. You need to speak to your inner strengths and draw them out from wherever they may have be lying dormant. Getting to the point where you become confident to express the real you is a process that may not happen the first time you try. Some people may see themselves in the mirror, and loathe the image of the person opposite them. However, if you have diligently done number 1 and 2 of these steps, you should have gotten to the level where you should be comfortable with whatever you see across from you. You have to tell yourself that you are the best at what you do, and that you are ready to gift the world with all the potentials loaded within you. Becoming self-confident is something that you will have to commit to achieving for yourself, by yourself or with the solicited help of others. Ultimately however, the decision to creep out of your shell lies with you, and you have to speak to the mirror in front of you that you are ready to do this, and go ahead to make it happen.
  4. Dull out contrary connotations: The saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, is so relevant to becoming self-confident. Just because you woke up one morning and decided that you were going to develop your self-confidence doesn’t mean it is going to happen immediately. It is a process that may take days, weeks, months and at the extreme even years; depending on the seriousness of your own peculiar circumstance. And just like any formal project that needs to be executed, the tendency to be bugged by negative connotations cannot be taken for granted. There are people that may have become comfortable with your sub-optimal confidence level, and they will do all they can to make you remain at that level. Sometimes, the contrary connotations may actually come from your head. It means, that deceptive voice that tries to tell you that you are not yet ready for the big change. It is your responsibility to shut down such voices, because the more you allow them lurk around, the more influence they may have in derailing you from becoming the self-confident individual that you want to become. Be radical in your approach towards anything that may want to stop your upward growth. Be proactive to move ahead and stop them in their tracks. You want to carry every fiber of your being along in your life changing journey, and therefore be fierce in dulling out the negativities as you gradually develop into that self-confident man, woman, or young adult.
  5. Step out, and let the world know the real you: If you have successfully carried out the preceding 4 steps, it is time to step out and show the world the changed you. There is a saying that, “the way you make your bed, would determine how you lay on it”; likewise, people would tend to see you for who you are, depending on what you project on the outside. If you begin to project yourself as a confident man, woman or young adult who has great faith in their capabilities, with time, the world would have no choice than to begin to see and regard you in that same light. But this move has to begin with you. You have to be willing to step out of your previous comfort zone, and show the world that you are far worth than how you had previously projected yourself. You have to begin to do the things that you hitherto would never have done. You have to begin to engage people, take initiatives, lead conversations and be comfortable to speak where you would not have had the guts to do so before. It all comes down to being comfortable with ourselves, in our own skin. Irrespective of any ‘seemingly’ shortcoming that you may still have, you have to be willing to put that behind you and step out with grace to a world waiting for you to gift it with all your untapped potentials.

Building and developing self-confidence is crucial to self-satisfaction. If we allow ourselves to be held back by fear of how others perceive us, we may never live completely happy lives. We may become enshrined in self-loathing, and may never come to the fulfillment of our greatest potentials. Remember that we are all uniquely different, and every one of us has a unique characteristic or gift that we can use to make the world a truly better place to live in. Don’t deny the world of that opportunity. Step out of your comfort zone, and take the preceding 5 steps into becoming the self-confident person, created to impact the world for good. Be confident of YOU!

To your continued success. Cheers!!!

Evi Abada

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