There my dad stood patiently, at the top of the lush, grassy knoll of our backyard in Washington state, holding it—the beast I feared so greatly: a pink, sparkly bicycle with flowers on the wheels and tassels flowing off the handlebars. Training wheels were nowhere to be seen… Fast forward ten minutes (a lot of angst and fear later) and I felt the exhilarating, flying feeling of riding a bike for the first time. The grin on my face stretched from ear to ear.
I’d like to think that confidence isn’t that different from riding a bike, that it can be learned. There might be fear leading up to it and perhaps even an unwillingness to try, but ultimately you can train yourself to love who you are through practice and patience. Imagine how much wider your grin would be if you could experience that for the first time. Yes, I’d like to think that confidence can be learned, but I haven’t proved it for myself. Yet.
Recently I’ve been admiring two very important people in my life and their extremely unapologetic, yet humble confidence. They don’t accept any nonsense from anyone; they’re never afraid to voice their opinions; they’re incapable of jealousy because they hold such assurance in themselves. Sounds pretty arrogant, right?
Wrong. Even with their brimming confidence, they manage to have kind, humble hearts. I realized that’s the kind of person I want to be. I want to strut into a room of beautiful women and feel just as pretty as them, not threatened by their success or jealous of their looks. I want to speak my mind and never apologize for my emotions, or feel ashamed for having them in the first place. I want to wake up every morning with the promise of a new day and all that I can accomplish for myself, not the dread of facing monotony and unfulfilled dreams.
I’ve been feeling anything but confident lately. It seems no plans have been going my way, every little thing stings my psyche, and every word out of my mouth is the exact wrong thing to say, leaving me vulnerable to the floodgates of regret as soon as the words depart from my lips. Most of all, I’ve been feeling constant embarrassment. Embarrassed for who I am, what I feel, and what I’m doing with my life. As you can imagine, it’s not a great time. But who is the culprit of these feelings? Stress? Some major life changes about to happen? Perhaps the perpetrator does not hold as much importance as the solution.
My first response for a solution? Get out the balloons and streamers ‘cause it’s pity party time. Personally, I have nothing wrong with a little pity party. I throw them often when I’m upset—just me, myself, and I, chilling on the couch with some ice-cream, my favorite movie, and frumpy sweat pants. What could be better? In a way, I feel like taking some time to feel sorry for yourself after something doesn’t work out is the only way to move past it. You cry a bit, wish things were different, perhaps gain a few pounds in sweet treats… and then you realize how silly you’re being and you get over it.
The only problem was that I wasn’t reaching that realization of the stupidity/waste of time/uselessness of my pity parties. Days turned into weeks and before I knew it, I had become Jay Gatsby, living a lifestyle of partying every night…and not the good kind. I allowed myself to fall farther into a state of self-loathing, and I let all those yucky feelings fester. Some part of me knew I had to make a change. I had to actively choose to claw my way back out of this slump. But like riding a bike, the other part of me was afraid and reluctant to take the first step. Or should I say the first pedal?
But I finally did. Late Monday night I decided to host my last pity party, knowing that in the morning things would change. And with the annoying chirp of my 8 AM alarm, things did change.
I had a plan for the day—one I had devised the previous night while withering away beneath the metaphorical disco lights of my personal party. When I first woke up, I decided to stay in bed. I didn’t turn my phone on like I usually do. I didn’t rush upstairs and eat as soon as possible to prevent expiration (and attacks on innocent family members). Instead, I took a few moments in quiet solitude to be mindful. To consider my plans for the day; to remember my promise to myself to stop the personal attacks.
I started with my favorite gel pens and one of my most-enjoyed activities—list making. As I sat on my bed with the early morning light peeping through the shutters, I wrote a list of things I love about myself. A task that I avoided and made me fairly uncomfortable, I had read from countless body-positive bloggers that making such lists was the way to go. So I did. And then I read it out loud. I didn’t feel a rush of confidence suddenly fill my body after doing so, but I did feel the grumbles of hunger and ran upstairs for breakfast.
The rest of the day I spent celebrating things I love doing and things I love about myself. When I went to sleep that night, I didn’t feel the urge to have a pity party. The rude voices in my mind hadn’t disappeared but their loud screaming diminished to only a whisper. Maybe making and reading that list aloud didn’t have immediate effects, but it did set the invisible stage for a better day. A day of confidence.
So next time you need to escape a pity party, a pity week, or any old slump, just pick from the medicine cabinet of methods below. But warning: using all at once could result in a really great day.
- Start your day by making a list of what you love about yourself. Don’t be shy, and don’t be modest. This is your time to be arrogant.
- Eat a yummy, healthy breakfast. Not only will you feel energized for the day, but you’ll prevent that gross feeling of bloating and shame that comes after eating that sugary, gooey cinnamon roll (or in my case, half a box of Lucky Charms).
- Exercise! There’s nothing like the natural high of endorphins to make you feel better. Even though getting active might not be at the top of your “fun list,” it can do wonders for your body and mind. Find a buddy to make it less grueling.
- Dress up in something that makes you feel amazing, do your makeup, curl your hair, or wear your favorite expensive perfume, just because. For me, my “special perfume” brings back some of my favorite memories. Why not treat yo’self?
- Get outside. I know when I’m in a slump, I tend to curl up in the dark, musty corners of the not-so-great indoors, which only exasperates sad feelings. But rays of sunshine, a cool breeze in your face, and the fresh smell of grass can quickly turn that around.
- Spend time with friends. Being with other people forces you to at least pretend not to be in a sour mood, and you’d be surprised how much “faking it ’til you make it” actually works.
Hating yourself isn’t fashionable. Like you’ve probably seen on Pinterest a million times, a smile truly is a girl’s best accessory. So if you really want to be stylish, don’t hope things will get better. You have to make them better. Stand tall, push your shoulders back, and be confident in yourself. Love yourself. Because sadness isn’t a good look on anyone.
As for me? I’m just trying to learn confidence. I think it can be done, but I’ll keep you updated. 😉
Miles of smiles,