Ruby, Inc. asked a number of exceptionally confident women what it took to boost their confidence. You’ll quickly find it wasn’t that they magically became confident when they lost a few pounds, when their breasts became even or even when they thought they were finally perfect. It was something far greater and far more achievable.
By Professor Virginia Kugel-Zank
It is a journey to find, develop, and keep confidence. In my experience, I have learned life is a series of moments where you have an opportunity to invent and reinvent yourself over and over again. It gets hard when you have spent a lot of your life trying to be what other people wanted you to be.
When I was young, I learned pretty quickly that trying to please other people would not work for me. That’s because a mother, whose glass was always half-empty, raised me. I’m not sure she was ever what I would call happy. Finally I realized that happiness to her was really subsisting in a “half-empty” state of being unhappy. This taught me that there is more responsibility for those who are happy than those who are unhappy.
Though her behavior, she modeled for me the kind of person I didn’t want to be. I want a life with a glass that was half-full or even full. I wanted to be happy, embrace the responsibility and dig in to life. I learned that feeling good and being happy is a choice I could make, and I hope you never forget that lesson. I hope you learn, much like I did, that you can choose to allow water to wash over you and toss you around or you can stick you head up and swim like crazy. If you swim like crazy, you will gain confidence and strength. Then you learn to swim again.
My mother also taught me that you can’t please everyone. She taught me that just about the time you think you have achieved their praise, they change the rules of what they wanted and you begin to feel like a failure. I learned not to lease myself out to other people who make me doubt who I am, what I looked like, and what I’m doing.
I learned to pick honest, caring people to be my sounding boards and I hope you find the same kind of people in your life. I hope you can find people who aren’t afraid to give you an honest answer or a heartfelt, sincere compliment.
My mother used to be critical of others’ weight, especially mine. I have weighed everywhere from 110 to 180 pounds and guess what I never did hit mother’s magic number. I was too fat, too thin, gaunt, pale, or just didn’t look good. So I learned to stop trying to please the outside world and go for healthy–healthy in spirit, body, and mind. I learned that my value isn’t wrapped up in my size. My worth isn’t a number. So I invented some self-confidence from some negative experiences. I used those experiences to decide to find out who I really was.
I really started to figure all this out when I went to college.
I loved learning and that was never short-changed as I was growing up–from supportive teachers, encouraging relatives, and challenging siblings. Education was always important in my home. We all read a lot– mother read the World Book Encyclopedia through several times, Daddy read farm magazines, newspapers, his Sunday school lesson (he taught all through my life), and the Bible. We listened to radio, watched TV, and talked a lot. Of all those things the talking was the best–it gave my siblings me a chance to play with our ideas without fear. I carried that on into my family as I raised my girls.
We truly did talk about everything.
What you get out in the open you can deal with it and that helps build your confidence. I mastered that in my teaching (almost 50 years in education) let students have a safe place and a trusted person with whom they can share their ideas. It works wonder for everybody’s confidence and self-assuredness.
As you share you are establishing a system of values and that is what it is all about you can’t be confident about anything if you don’t have things that give meaning to your life. Find out what you truly believe in and what you are willing to make sacrifices for.
You can’t be something until you know what is out there to be. So I am always learning and therefore always inventing and reinventing myself.
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To read the second installment entitled Why Some Women Always Appear Confident and Put Together, click here.