What is habitual confidence and how do I build it?

Did anything good ever come out of that hell-forsaken place society calls middle school except for friends who didn’t judge your god-awful appearance? With braces being secured to my teeth and phasing out of Justice clothes, my confidence going into middle school wasn’t the best. It wasn’t until the first day of 7th grade when I shocked myself. 

Sitting at a table, no one in any of my classes, I had my face buried in a Minecraft chapter book. Three other girls came to occupy the other chairs at my pod. One look at them and I knew that I was the outsider. “You’re popular now,” said the ring-leader. I looked up, straight into her eyes, and without a quiver in my voice said, “I don’t care.” Those three words were just something to say to get back into my book, but something had changed for me. 

While I like to believe confidence is innate, but it ebbs and flows throughout life. Growing up, if I had a good outfit or I felt like I could take on anything that occurred during the day, I assumed that energy. I never kept up with the trends. I did my own thing and wasn’t easily swayed by others opinions of me. 

When I got social media, the confidence I had seemingly built up diminished. With all these people to compare my life and looks to, my soul took a bit of a hit. It didn’t overtake my life, but I started to think about how I would carry myself more. What clothes would I like? How should I react to certain topics? How do I make others see me cooler than I actually am? Self-doubt and comparison are the biggest mood killers of confidence. It’s limiting those voices that the habit starts to fall into place. 

This is not an overnight success. It can take years to build confidence without relying on validation. It’s easy to look in the mirror and point out the flaws. Start small with finding one or two positive aspects of your appearance. Whether if it’s your hair styled well or the shirt you’re wearing, compliment yourself. For those days you aren’t feeling your look, compliment a favorite trait of yours such as kindness or loyalty. Taking charge of hyping yourself up is one of the easiest ways to build up confidence. 

Remove yourself from surroundings and others who don’t bring your confidence out. If the environment makes you want to shrink into yourself, leave it. If people don’t celebrate your successes or treat you right, cut them out. Who and what you surround yourself with impacts your mental health tremendously, so being in the right one allows you to be the best version of yourself. 

Keep reminders handy. I’m a personal fan of having motivational quotes located within an arms reach. I have a small collage in my room above my dresser, notes dotting my cubicle and a couple screenshots on my phone. When I need that little pick-me-up, I know where to turn to and if someone else needs it, I can snap a photo and send it to them. 

Confidence is a habit; between balancing ego and humbleness, it’s a craft to perfect. Everyone deserves to wake up each morning feeling they can take on the world. Make time each day to build confidence; it’s one of the best investments you can give to yourself. 

Header photo: It wasn’t an overnight success to get as confident as I am now. Being my own hype-woman, having motivational quotes available and removing myself from people who don’t reciprocate my energy have helped me. (Photo courtesy of Emma Johnson)

Write to Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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