Confidence - A Guest Post

Hi there friends! My little sister and her sweet guy started an awesome blog called The Daily Lift Co.. They share their adventures, recipes, and weekly thoughts on different topics. Recently they wrote about Confidence and we think y'all will just love it! (plus how fun is it to hear a man's perspective on this topic?!) Enjoy and check out their blog thedailylift.co!

HER PERSPECTIVE

The topic of battling insecurities and loving the person you are, for who you are – flaws & all, is absolutely saturating social media. And I LOVE it. It’s a message that should be drilled into our heads, over and over, and then a little bit more. Because it is so lovely and so good and so right.

For years, this was such a struggle for me. It’s so easy, especially as a woman, but maybe also just as a human, to zero in on your flaws. To find things in yourself that need ‘fixing’. To pick at yourself until you feel absolutely defeated. And isn’t that just the worst? We’re with ourselves 24/7, shouldn’t we want that time to be positive?

I think for me, the issue came from perfectionism. I’m pretty OCD in most areas of my life and always have been – my parents tell stories at dinner parties of them coming down to check on me during Nap Time to find me carefully organizing my sock drawer (no kidding). As I got older, my desire for perfection spread into my own image. I could give you details of the mean things I’ve sad to myself, but I don’t think I need to; I think we’ve all been there. But that’s what’s so sad to me. It shouldn’t be the norm.

I’m not sure I ever fully realized what a toll insecurity plays on the people around you. In my worst moments, I could ruin an entire day that was supposed to be a fun, special time spent with my mom and sister. Isn’t that so vain, really? To be too preoccupied with your own flaws to be able to enjoy time with your favorite people, and let them get to enjoy it, too? Other times, I voiced the things I didn’t like about myself to the point that it was contagious. That kills me. Having low self-esteem is so painful, and I hate to think I may have caused that feeling in others.

a word of advice.

We all know there really isn’t a ‘prescription’ for feeling confident. But there are a few things I started doing a couple years ago that seem to make a difference.

  1. Every time I thought something negative about myself, I made myself rebut with 5 positive qualities. That worked in part because I came face-to-face with things I really liked about myself, and in part because if I was in a rush to get ready to leave the house, I really didn’t have time to think of those 5 positive qualities – at the root of it I realized what a waste of time it is to have destructive thoughts in the first place.
  2. I cut the word ‘jealous’ out of my vocabulary. I promise you, your day becomes 1 million times brighter when you choose to be happy for people, rather than envious. There will never be a shortage of pretty, or intelligent, or funny. So, I’ve decided to be excited for people when they get to go on an incredible trip, or when they’re wearing something that they look just fantastic in, or when they make a killer impression on everyone at a party. Go them!
  3. More than anything, for me, it’s a God thing. If that’s not something you believe in, that’s ok. Absolutely. But for me, I have complete faith that I was ‘wonderfully made’ by a perfect creator. I finally had the earth-shattering realization that every time I said something awful to myself, I was basically telling God that He made a mistake. (but God doesn’t make mistakes.)
  4. I started letting people do their own thing. It’s really easy to want to force the people around you to act a certain way to make yourself feel better. For instance: If you’re out for lunch and you want a burger but your friend wants a salad – let her get the salad. And moreover, still get the burger! Please.

It’s been the coolest thing to see what a difference confidence has made in my relationship with others, especially with Carder. When you don’t depend on your significant other to be your source of confidence, every sweet action and kind word can just be a gift, not a requisite. I love that every other word out of his mouth isn’t pouring out compliments about the way I look. I love that he loves me for reasons far more important than my appearance. In fact, the thing he compliments me for most in terms of my ‘beauty’ are my smile crinkles by my eyes – I’m 22 and have wrinkles, how is that possible?!? But it makes my heart skip whenever he says it. There were times when I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate this, and I’m so relieved that’s not the case anymore.

I’m not going to lie, I love to get dressed up and feel pretty and present myself well. But what I look like and what others think of me is no longer my most pressing thought. I’ve learned to let the small stuff roll off my shoulders, because that’s not what I want to be about.

Side story: I am an absolute SUCKER anytime I go to the salon. I’m the girl who ends up being talked into buying every single expensive product because my hair or skin just “really needs it”. Last year, I was studying abroad in Prague and I let myself get talked into getting my hair highlighted for the first time ever. I’m already blonde. I don’t need highlights. What possessed me to do this in a country that has a total of zero blondes living in it, I will never know. The night before a weekend I had really been looking forward to all month, I decided to do it. To put it simply, it did not go well. At all. For 24 hours, my hair was atrociously striped bleach-blonde-and-black.

Fast forward almost one year, and the same thing happened, this time: eyebrow edition. I get my eyebrows threaded at a small place down the street, and a few months ago the woman who does the threading talked me into letting her tint them. Being so fair, I should not have dark eyebrows. I looked like Cara Delevingne – but not a model. Not good.

But, you just can’t sweat the small stuff – laugh at it, instead. What does it matter, really, in the end?

Eventually, you have to make the choice. Choose confidence. Realize that another pretty girl doesn’t make you any less pretty. A lapse of bad skin (or horrendous eyebrows) certainly does not define you. I would so much rather see the good and the beauty in the people around me, and be happy for them. Once you make the choice, life becomes a whole lot more fun.


HIS PERSPECTIVE

If you could have any superpower what would it be? Would you fly? Would you read minds? I’d teleport. The thought of being anywhere at anytime fascinates me. Instead, what if I asked, what quality or trait do you wish you embodied more?

I’d be more confident.

We’ve all heard friends describe other people as “confident and [happy, successful, fun, etc.]”, but what makes someone confident? Does confidence breed these other characteristics? Or is confidence a byproduct of happiness, success, etc? I don’t think that confidence is innate; yet, I do believe that it starts early in childhood.

From day one, we’re subject to additions or subtractions from our baseline confidence level. Think back to Kindergarten when your parents left you alone for the first time in your entire life. How did you feel when one of your new classmates immediately walked over to ask you to play with them? Accepted, important, happy — confident. How about in the 3rd grade no one wanted to play kickball with you because you weren’t athletic? Dejected, anxious, excluded — not confident. Each of these experiences might seem minor, but over time, we accumulate experiences that have a considerable impact on our personalities, and on our confidence. Accumulating small wins makes us feel smart, attractive, funny; and accumulating small losses makes us feel insignificant, ugly, and dumb.

Growing up my head was too big for my body – think Stewie from Family Guy. People would joke if you could have $1,000,000 or my head full of quarters, which would you chose? Everyone chose my head full of quarters. This seems like an insignificant and friendly joke, but as a 4-year-old it makes you feel different and weird.

I was also never the skinny kid. Granted, I wasn’t obese, but growing up in a freakishly athletic town, any form of fat makes you feel obese. In 4th grade, I faked sick, so I wouldn’t have to go to a birthday party at the neighborhood pool and take off my shirt. This was certainly caused by small and insignificant comments about love handles and man boobs.

While these two examples are purely physical, the accumulation of small losses can occur in any aspect of life – from athletics to academics and everywhere between. But, I believe that there are a few easy solutions to regain your confidence or build it up for the first time.

  • Focus on the Small Wins. Our brains tend to cling to negative experiences and gloss over positive ones. So, actively focus on the small wins that we experience each day. Did your boss or colleague congratulate you on a project that you finished? Chalk that up for a win, and reflect on your impressive skillset that allowed you to succeed. Did the barista complement your new haircut? You're 2 and 0! Each time something positive happens to you, no matter how small, force yourself to reflect. The introspection will help you to realize your self-worth and develop a formidable sense of confidence. Wins > Losses = Confidence.
  • Be Mindful. I’m not asking you to sit cross-legged and burn some incense with your eyes closed. Nor am I asking you to join a hippy commune out in the woods. I am asking you to take a few minutes each day to be present and just breathe. I promise a mindfulness practice will help. A little over a year ago, I started meditating and the benefits have been incredible. A few minutes of deliberate focus on your breath will help get that jealous monkey out of your head and off of your back. You’ll be more present and able to recognize those small wins when they happen. (If you need something to help you start to check out either of these apps: Calm or Headspace)
  • Get Moving: Studies have shown the importance of physical movement for mental health. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good. When we feel good we’re more confident. The greatest part about this tactic is that it’s two-fold. You’ll get the immediate confidence boost thanks to the flood of endorphins rushing through your body, and you’ll also start to feel better in your skin in the long term.
  • Be You: This one might sound obvious, but trust me. In past relationships, platonic and romantic, I’ve been guilty of playing to my audience. I’d sway back and forth between opinions, trying to please whoever I was with. This was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. It caused me to always second guess myself and confuse myself about what I actually cared about and who I was. Enter Carsyn. I can’t think of a single moment where I’ve felt the need to be anything but myself with her. I could chalk that up to being more confident, but I owe it all to her. She lets me be me, and I don’t have any fear of an unexpected blowup because I said the wrong thing. Now, I’ve felt the proverbial fog lift in all my relationships, including myself, and I’m actually confident to just be Carder.

Finally, I’m an ardent supporter of Pareto’s Principle or the ‘Law of the Vital Few’. Simply, Pareto identified that, in general, 20% of all inputs generate 80% of all outputs. This is like a lead domino that transforms its static energy into kinetic energy to allow all the following dominos to topple over. How does this relate to confidence? Well, I believe that confidence is our lead domino personality trait. If you’re ever struggling or feel less than ideal, just remember; “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”. You’re in complete control.