I got out of bed and looked in the mirror, only to be dismayed by the entirely different species of female staring back at me. New breakout on my chin, frizzy hair stuck to my forehead, bloated from last night’s dinner consisting of pizza and wine.
I am the girl who gets 40 likes maximum on my Instagram photos. I am the girl who wears a grey t-shirt and flip flops on a regular basis. Not only that, but I’m who talks about Oreos in my social media bios because I can’t claim to be a “model/free spirit.” In other words, I’m pretty average.
But I am also learning that none of that should matter when it comes to my confidence.
Knowing this, or even beginning to know it, allows me to feel content and worthy, despite having a bad hair day or waking up to an inbox of rejection emails. However, it also came with discovering some surprising things about what happens when you go from feeling borderline invisible to suddenly feeling like you matter.
The people around you will be confused. My friends who tell me I look nice when we go out don’t know what to say when I thank them instead of trying to deny it. My mom doesn’t understand what changed when all of a sudden I tell her I feel like things in my life will turn out okay even though I’m going on my second month of unemployment. The guy I spent six months “hanging out” with didn’t understand when I walked away from what he didn’t want to give me. Everyone in my life is primarily accustomed to complaints about how I’m not smart, beautiful, or talented enough – and they’re uncomfortable with my sudden calm acceptance of what I have and who I am. I received a lot of, “Wow, someone’s feeling good about herself today,” as a default response. It felt wrong to agree – it felt like they were accusing me of gaining what they’ve always claimed to wish I had; confidence.
This led me to realize that sometimes having confidence mislabels you as being arrogant. Confidence and arrogance are two very different concepts, but they linger along the same fine line. No, I don’t think I am as beautiful as the girls in those Instagram photos. No, I don’t think I am a better writer than Hemingway. No, I don’t think I’m unemployed because I haven’t stumbled upon a job “good enough” for me yet.
But, that doesn’t mean I am ugly, untalented, or unemployable. I have strengths to offer. I have weaknesses that hold me back, but I don’t know a single person who doesn’t. Finding confidence, to me, means finding acceptance of myself – not believing I am more or letting myself feel like I am less. I believe that I am capable of consistently bettering myself, and I believe that the mistakes I make will help me in that process.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
As it turns out, some of the clichés are true. Confidence cannot be affected by the people around you. The definition of confidence, as mentioned above, has to do with self-assurance and firm trust. It doesn’t have to do with how many people like you, praise you, tear you down, or lift you up. A good test grade, a bone-crushing hug, a whispered, “I love you,” a fire emoji commented on an Instagram picture – these are all we love to receive. But we can’t depend on any of them. It took me being in my house alone, reading soul-crushing comments on one of my articles, all while recovering from a seven second voicemail that defeated a dream of mine which I had already been envisioning. It’s on days like that where I still have to remember that things will be okay. I still have to trust that I am more than what other people think I am. We all are.
The next time someone snickers, “Wow, someone’s feeling good about herself today,” I’ll accept their compliment, nod in agreement, and say, “I hope you’re feeling good about yourself too.”
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