Did you ever see the 2007 princess movie Enchanted? You know, the one with Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey that combines (and pokes fun at) all the major fairy tales? If not, bear with me for a moment as I describe one of the scenes. Nathaniel, played by Timothy Spall aka Wormtail, watches a dramatic and horribly cheesy soap opera in which the angsty woman asks the man, “How can I love a man who doesn’t even like himself?” Is it weird that I remember this scene so vividly? Probably, but I swear I have a point to make.
I’ve realized in the past few months that this tacky soap opera line calls into question a broader concept which holds a lot of validity. In order to have healthy relationships and interpersonal connections, we must love and have confidence in ourselves first.
If you compare the me of today with the me from a month ago, I am a very different person. It’s not my values or my likes and dislikes that have changed; rather, my confidence has skyrocketed (in a good way). I never had a severe lack of self esteem—after all, I sport crazy costumes at school and publish my thoughts on the internet for everyone to see—but I would say I was somewhat shy. I talked a lot around people with whom I felt comfortable, probably even revealing a little too much. Strangers, on the other hand, were a completely different story. I always hated having to ask someone I didn’t know for directions or checking out in a store. Trying to ask a clarification question over the phone? Forget about it…
But now, having been at college for five weeks, I am constantly surrounded by strangers. I entered the school year wanting to leave that shyness and fear of interaction in the past, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. Now I’m always introducing myself to the person sitting next to me, joining random people at a table in the cafeteria, or reaching out to that girl I met one time and inviting her to breakfast. I even spent an hour on the phone the other week with a customer service agent to resolve an issue, something so adult-like and foreign to me that it seems hard to believe I did it.
The fact of the matter is that I’m finally living the life I envisioned for myself—taking classes in which I’m actually interested, going to some meeting or event almost every night, hanging out and making new friends as much as possible, no longer being a somewhat-shy wallflower. All of my hopes and dreams about college have finally come to fruition. I feel happy and excited almost all the time—I mean look at these pictures!–and even on the inevitable bad days, I find amusement and a reason to be chipper. This is so vastly different from who I used to be, and I attribute it all to—you guessed it—confidence.
So with straighter posture and this new smile on my face, that silly Enchanted scene has been echoing in my head, allowing me to realize the connection between my newfound confidence and my relationships. I’ve always been a super sensitive person—one wrong turn of phrase, even if it didn’t have malicious intent, could’ve made me cry as a child. Throughout middle and high school, I learned to retain most of the tears, but the lingering effects of mean words, or sometimes even just words, festered in my psyche for days and weeks after the fact. I often desired to swear off association with anyone who had ever stirred up that sensitivity. As you can imagine, if I retreated from every person that ever said something remotely hurtful to my delicate self, I would live in a very lonely world.
Confidence has somehow shifted that sensitivity in me. It’s granted me the freedom to not take words personally, and instead let them flow off my back just like any other neutral phrase, such as, “Good morning!” Because I don’t feel so inclined to dislike people after one semantic mistake, I’m much more open—open to talking to strangers, to plan coffee dates, and most excitingly, to enjoy the company of people I previously would have disliked.
That’s the magic of establishing confidence in yourself. You feel empowered to reach out to that person you always wanted to, to make connections, to talk to strangers before they morph into friends.
To love yourself allows you to love others more deeply.
One prime example is the vice jealousy. Unfortunately, it’s a rare quality for a person to never feel the pangs of jealousy (I envy those people—oh, the irony). I do have a few friends with that admirable ability, and I’ve since learned it’s attributed to confidence. To believe in and feel sure of yourself means you never have to question your own worth, or even belittle the beauty and success of others. Can you imagine a world in which jealousy is eradicated from relationships? No more would you have to worry about your significant other hanging out with that one person instead of you, or feel upset when your best friend winds the award you wanted. Jealousy could be greatly diminished, but it starts with YOU–with confidence in yourself.
So how do you find this confidence? Easier said than done. Maybe some people are born with it, but it can definitely be learned as well—just in a very personal way. I don’t know universal tips to share with you for how to establish confidence. To be honest, I’m not even sure if universality can apply to this concept. But I do know for me, there are a few actions I can take that continually boost my happiness and assuredness in myself. Every time I conquer a fear—from something as small as making that phone call to something as large as riding that terrifying roller coaster at the amusement park—I feel better about myself. That’s why now I strive to conquer little fears each day, talking to new people or going to some interesting event on campus where I don’t know anyone. By slowly tearing down the bricks that make up the wall of my comfort zone, I’m using them to instead build a bridge of confidence within myself to connect me to the world and those around me.
So to quote the soap opera actress, “How can I love a man who doesn’t even like himself?” Truth is, it’d probably be easier on both parties of the relationship if self-confidence were established first. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it insightful for loving yourself and connecting with others. If you’re interested in the topics of confidence and self love, here are two other posts I’ve written in the past:
Have a great weekend!
Miles of smiles,