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…

“Be confident.”

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!

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19 thoughts on “The Confidence Project

  1. Oh how I love this Mary and I love you!!! Thank you so much for sharing. You just ministered to me big time ( like you normally do!)

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  2. Mary YOU always have such a timely word! I am so glad that I read this one all the way through… in many areas of my life there has been confidence but in new things there is that overwhelming fear… so I am writing a book right now and I am going to put on confidence and just do this thing! THANK you for speaking words that gave my spirit the inspiration that it needed today! Blessings

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  3. Mary,
    Interesting to read this post because I was just thinking how I got to know you better at the New years Party. I was so blessed to spend time with you and see who you are. Before you were like a mystery friend who I wanted to know. Then BAM! Confidence showed up. I feel like I know you now and I really like you!

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  4. Great article, I need a double dose living in a town I don’t know anyone. Its really easy to be unseen because nobody knows who I am anyway. Confidence creates curiosity because its so attractive. You are getting me going now.

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  5. Mary, Mary — no longer contrary 🙂
    This article you wrote — well, it felt like you were writing it specifically for our children. I will print this when we get home this evening & make a copy for each of the four of them. I love your writing style.
    I myself feel less than confidant at times — something I’ve labeled as “shy” on the past. In reality, it is a lack of confidence due to a lack of skill. My default has been to fake it — that used to work to a degree… Until I felt overwhelmed with the fear of messing up. Then my brassiness came out & people were offended. I missed out on making some friendships. Now, I put on my confidence along with my new skills. Now, when I start to feel scared, my default is humility thanks to the nuggets of knowledge & skill I have received from Dani Johnson.
    Thank you for your honesty.

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  6. Oh the choice we have! The other choice you made was to listen to that voice that said “Be confident!”. Thank you for sharing! Like Natasha, I’m going to put on confidence tomorrow!

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  7. Thank you for posting this Mary. 🙂 this is something I’ve struggled with since a wee lass. 🙂 I am going to work on this too. Thank you for sharing your growing experience:) I’m excited to see who you “let” yourself become, by loving yourself. 🙂 much love ❤ Diana

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  8. Awesome article Mary. I did this several years ago when I “chose” to be in a good mood every morning on my way to work. It was amazing and my coworkers noticed and mentioned the change (guess I was noticeably NOT in a good mood before lol). You’re so right, everything is a choice – good or bad. Thanks for the reminder!

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  9. Wow, as I am reading this blog it reminds me of myself. I have very little self confidence as a matter of fact 2 years ago I had NONE. My ex boyfriend stomped on it all. I have learned to fake it till I make it! Sometimes thou that can be a huge challenge for me. I sometimes have the confiedence I need but other times I just want to hide and not even do anything. It is nice to know that I am not the only one with this problem. Here’s to both of us learning how to do this for the rest of our lifetime. God has helped me with this issue and I ask HIM to help everyday in this matter. Looking to many more of your blogs!

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  10. THANK YOU MARY! As I scrolled up and down (before reading) I thought “Oh boy, this looks pretty long, do I really want to spend the time reading this.” But I’m glad I did. Thank you for coming out! By the way, you work for two of the BEST bosses in the whole world!!! AND, they work for GOD, so you’re on a pretty good team. I’m sure you’ll see your personal growth in a lot of other areas as well….can’t help it – look who you work around! I’m sure we’ll read about your future growth/observations as well. Keep ’em coming and once again, thank you for sharing so openly.

    P.S. I look forward to meeting you personally at a Live Dani Event (and please tell them HELLO and HAPPY NEW YEAR from me)

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  11. I really enjoyed this entry. It was confirmation of what God was showing me just this week. Confidence is a choice!! I love your style of story witting, it blessed me richly. I have struggled with confidence my whole life. I was one of the little guys and late bloomers in life…today I am putting on my confidence wardrobe!

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  12. Good day Mary. Thank you for sharing your insights into this topic. Confidence is something I had a walking in, but I am choosing to put myself in situations where I am uncomfortable and just see how it goes ( i may be making it sound easy). Thank you. May this year you see and fee a HUGE boost in confidence in all that you do.

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  13. What an extraordinary snippet! Flat out LOVED THIS! Felt like I was there… watching you, cheering you on! Thank you for mooning me Mary!!! Love your naked communication! Your pen is BOLD as a TIGRESS!

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  14. Sweet girl, I’ve seen the other side in you for, well for a big part of your ‘growing up’ years, and I’ve seen this you. You’ve come a long way, baby, as they used to say. For so long, you dodged the things and people that were uncomfortable for you. Now I see the self-assurance, the push to do more and the confidence to do more and do things that were at one time too challenging. I hear it when we talk, I see it in your smile. Now, if I could only get you to be ‘ confident ‘ enough to try some oysters, shrimp, maybe some calamari, it would be complete. But, I don’t think even you are going to be THAT confident! Love you Mary, and I am incredibly proud of my little girl!!

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