One of the biggest discoveries that I’ve made over the last few months is actually very simple. In fact, when you find out what it is, your reaction will probably be something along the lines of, “Duh, that’s common sense!”
For someone like me, however, it is far from common sense. But I’ll explain that more later.
Saturday, October 13th, 2012 was a typical Saturday for me. I woke up around 10 am, stayed in bed for another hour or so, watched a couple movies, got ideas from Pinterest for things I will likely never do, did a little bit of Facebook stalking.
After spending the day locked in my room, wearing sweats and being lazy, I didn’t feel like changing into real clothes, much less stepping foot outside my apartment.
But alas, I had already committed to going to a birthday celebration for Hans (my boss). I know I’m making it sound like it’s such a terrible thing to go to a birthday party, but you have to understand at that particular time, I was not really into the whole social thing…at all.
So I threw on some clothes, put some makeup on very quickly, and headed out the door, 30 minutes late. (I had spent the last 30 minutes trying to convince myself to go…)
I stopped by the store to get a birthday card, and as I walked back to my car, I was still thinking about turning around and going home. But just then, a thought entered my mind…
I almost dismissed this word that had dropped into my spirit. But I quickly realized this wasn’t just my crazy brain talking to me…
It was then that I realized that confidence is not an inherent trait. It doesn’t come naturally. It is a choice.
I began to get a deeper insight to this issue of confidence. I could see what real confidence was and how the lack of confidence can affect a person.
See, I have spent most of my life (that I can remember, anyway) feeling scared, nervous, insecure, self-conscious, shy, and completely unsure of myself. This has kept me from making friends, trying new things, getting outside of my comfort zone. It has caused me to isolate myself, to lock myself in my apartment day after day, because of my lack of confidence. Sure, I’ve had moments of confidence. But confidence is not a natural thing for me.
So there I was in my car, on my way to Hans’ birthday party, and I had a decision to make. I could go home and give my usual lame excuse of, “I’m too tired,” or “I don’t feel well.” Or I could face my fear and doubts and go to that party.
So right then and there, in light of the revelation I had just had, I made a conscious decision to ‘try on’ confidence, just for the night.
I smiled. I stood up straight. I walked tall. I spoke with confidence. And I’m telling you, it was one of THE most uncomfortable experiences ever! But it felt good. I liked the way confidence felt.
So I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted to see what would happen if I chose to be confident for a week. Would I notice any difference? Would anyone else notice a difference?
So the next morning, I woke up and made the same decision that day. Be confident. (That was pretty easy, because it was Sunday, and I didn’t see a single person all day.)
Then Monday morning rolled around…
What you have to understand about me is this: I love sleeping in. I love wearing sweats. I love messy buns. I love being comfortable.
My typical morning routine looked something like this: Wake up at 9:30. Pee. Drink water. Eat an apple. Get dressed (hello, jeans and t-shirt!). Put hair in a messy bun. Pack computer. Leave for work at 9:50. Arrive at work at 10. I had perfected the art of getting from the bed to my desk in under 30 minutes, and I was quite proud of it.
But that Monday morning was different.
I set my alarm for 8:30. (And because it was 8:30 am, I think I also tried to cancel Monday. Not my plans for Monday, but Monday itself. Turns out, I don’t have that kind of power…) I got up. Peed. Drank a glass of water. Ate an apple. Put on makeup. Did my hair. Picked out a nice outfit. Took my time getting ready. Packed my computer. Left for work at 9:50. Arrived at work at 10.
That day, I was reminded of something Dani Johnson (my boss, mentor, and friend) has said over the last 2 years that I have known her. I’ve heard this several times, but it took me quite a while to catch it… She said, “When you look better, you feel better. When you feel better, you walk, talk, act, and work better.” And oh, how true that is! It has such a profound effect on your confidence.
But then Tuesday rolled around…
Now, if you have ever tried to change a habit, you know it can seem easy at first, but the real test comes when you have to make the decision when you don’t feel like it.
That Tuesday, I had to make the decision to be confident, even though I was feeling scared, shy, and unsure of myself. And to be completely honest, it wasn’t easy. I had to make that single decision probably 20 times throughout the day.
And then that afternoon, I got a message from a sweet friend that confirmed everything for me. She told me that on that Saturday night at the party, she noticed I had changed and that I seemed way more confident.
She had no idea what that meant for me or just how much she encouraged me that day. And it was proof that my little experiment was working.
That first week passed, and I loved the changes I was seeing in my life, all from one simple decision. It felt so strange to actually be sure of myself and to choose not to be afraid of other people.
This affected my work, especially. See, I am usually terrified of making a mistake, so I tiptoe around, playing it safe and doing my best to steer clear of any uncharted territory. And it was confidence that I lacked. So because of my decision to be confident, I chose to simply do my best and know that was all I could do. And that completely changed the way I think about work, my coworkers, and my boss.
I loved the way confidence was changing my life. So I kept going.
Not only do I love the way I feel, but I have had several comments from other people since then about how I seem so confident. I had one woman tell me that she wished she could be as confident as I was. I broke down when I heard that. I mean, I lost it. I was a snotty mess of tears and tissues.
Because I have spent a good part of my life being afraid. Until that night I made the decision to simply be confident.
Sure, I have my days when I just want to crawl in a hole and hide from the world. In fact, that was my day yesterday.
But it is in those times that I must make a conscious decision. It isn’t always an easy decision to make. It would be easy to hide from the world. It is much harder to be me and be confident. But it is so worth it.
I make that decision every morning. Sometimes I fail. And I have a loooong way to g o before it is even remotely natural or comfortable. But as I continue to pursue true confidence – that is the confidence of knowing who I am – my entire life has changed. I has changed the way I talk to people. It has changed the way I work. It has changed the way I look. It has changed the way I carry myself. And it all started with a decision.
So I want to encourage you today. Be confident! Walk confidently, talk confidently, work confidently, live confidently. Even if you are not a naturally confident person (and let’s just be real…nobody is!), you can choose to be confident. Try it on for a day or two…you may like the way you feel!
One last thing…I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. I know lots of people struggle with the issue of insecurity, lack of confidence, and fear. This is one thing that has helped me to overcome it. What helps you? Just leave me your thoughts in the comment section below!