I have to admit I was a “late bloomer”. I was always the youngest one in my class, the result of an October birthday and just making the cut off point for Kindergarten. Yup, it started way back then (as do most issues, unfortunately).
Being one of the youngest throughout school was not that big of a deal until:
1. I wanted to be driving like all my peers.
2. I was a senior in high school facing the prospect of college.
When I graduated at 17, I was headed off to Florida State University (#goNoles!). I was scared shitless. I didn’t really know how to be independent and I certainly didn’t feel independent.
As a matter of fact, I wished I had one more year left in high school just to “figure it all out”. I probably had delusions of a magic fairy that would descend one day and sprinkle me with the “powerfully confident” dust (with added sparkles and unicorns) so that I could embark on life’s journey feeling safe, secure, and comfortable with who I was.
Not so much. And to cope, I held on to a bunch of things / beliefs that were my security blanket:
- my high school boyfriend
- the safety of my dorm room and the few friends I made surrounding it
- telling myself that I couldn’t possibly pledge a sorority my freshman year because I wasn’t “prepared”
While my lack of self-confidence held me back from experiencing some of the things I really wanted to do, I realize that at the time, I needed these things to cope. I did the best I could with what I had.
I did eventually do the whole Greek sorority thing as a college sophomore. And I did some other cool stuff like join the FSU Flying High Circus. But there was always that self-doubt, and I would have done many things differently had I had the guts.
As a teen or early 20-something, some floundering is expected. Isn’t that what these years are for? To figure out how you fit into the world?
But what happens when your mid 30’s roll around, and you still lack the confidence to be yourself, to go after what you really want? You find yourself stuck at a crossroad, knowing that poor self-confidence is leading you to the left, but you absolutely want and need to go right.
This was me. I used to ask myself all the time why I couldn’t be like so-and-so who knew when she was 10 that she wanted to be a doctor and now has a successful practice. Or why I couldn’t be like the other so-and-so who really didn't give a hoot about what others thought.It took quite awhile to stop beating myself up over being a late bloomer.
How did I finally find my lost confidence? It took a lot of work!
1. I stopped comparing myself to others. And by doing this I was able to pinpoint times when I did step up to the plate and used my courage to face the scary. I mean really, the circus? I swung from a rope some umpteen feet in the air and performed for packed audiences. Someone with miserable self-confidence would never have done this.
Where are you selling yourself short?
2. I started programming in the messages I wanted to tell myself. Think affirmations, but with an element of reality and “proof”. In my journal, I would write in something like:
“I am courageous and ready to be present to the world. I know this because yesterday I signed up for that public speaking class despite the knot in the pit of my stomach.”
What new and improved messages do you want to tell yourself?
3. I took up Tapping (otherwise known as Emotional Freedom Technique). I am well versed in the power of subconscious beliefs. I knew that my unhelpful childhood messages about self-confidence were stuck in my brain. And that I wouldn’t truly be able to really catapult forward until I purged those. I therefore needed a technique that would subdue my “scardy-meter” (aka amygdala), so I could process the uncomfortable feelings and somewhat reprogram how I viewed myself. I found Tapping so effective that I now use it with my clients.
What are you willing to do to create the best version of yourself?
I am living proof that you can change your perception about your self, gaining confidence along the way. Just make it a priority, and do one thing every day to become the capable, independent person you were meant to be.