I know a person can’t learn to be confident by reading one woman’s random blog. On the other hand, I know what I’m talking about because I used to be cripplingly insecure, anxious, and depressed. Emphasis on the words “used to be”. Turning 30 was the catalyst for my long, difficult journey toward getting over my own self.
It wasn’t the easiest thing to do. I had to go through a lot of rejection and uncertainty before I got to the point where I actually liked the person I am, but I at least I got there. It was ugly and uncomfortable, but I made it through with my sanity (mostly) intact. So in an effort to pass the blessing along here are the ways, I, a smart-mouthed, spoiled princess, gained enough confidence to be myself.
1. Don’t place your confidence in something you may lose.
(A brilliant man, C.S. Lewis) When I was a kid, I wasn’t confident about much. I knew I could run. I knew I was smart, and I knew I had an excellent memory. Life isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. It’s not about being the prettiest, or the most esteemed. It’s about being the best person you can be and contributing more to the world than you take from it. I had to learn that, when I die, my legacy won’t be how superficially kind I was to others. It won’t be how cute I am, or how smart. If I lived to be 80, and had nothing to show for it other than a handful of people remembering how smart I was, I will have wasted my life. I’d prefer to be remembered for how many people I helped. How I was encouraging, and giving, and respectful. That will mean more to me than being known as “the one with all the answers”.
2. If you are depressed, do whatever you can to get help.
Let me qualify that: do whatever you can that is not harmful to you or anyone else. If you have to take a pill to be stable, take a pill. Xanax, Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, were created for a reason, and if you need them to prevent your brain from turning on itself, don’t be ashamed. If exercise makes you happy, then exercise. If believing in God makes you happy, believe in Him. Pray. Meditate. Read the Bible, and go to church. A famous philosopher once called religion, ‘the opiate of the masses’. Well, last time I checked, Sir High Horse, opiates helped to ease pain, and provided the persons involved aren’t trying to force you to ascribe to their beliefs *ahem*, having God in your life is positive. (I can attest to that) If talking to a therapist makes you happy, see a therapist. Talking to someone about your issues is sometimes the best way to work through them. If indulging in some retail therapy makes you happy, shop. Just make sure you have enough money to do it. Oh, and if putting other people down makes you happy, get a life. And a psychiatrist because you clearly have issues.
Depression may rob you of your energy sometimes, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life.
3. Stop Putting Yourself Down.
There are enough people in the world who are interested in putting you down, don’t make it easy on them by agreeing. Everyone has a mixture of great qualities and faults, so don’t feel too superior about your attributes, and don’t allow your faults to make you feel insecure. If you respect yourself, you will respect others, and others may respect you. But don’t be too surprised if they don’t.
4. Don’t allow insults to effect who you are.
In elementary school, I was told I was a nerd who thought I was better than everyone else. When I was in Jr High, a guy told me that I had a nice body, but my face ‘could use a little work’. When I was 24, I was told that I wouldn’t be as pretty if I were a fat girl (OK, what does that even mean?), and when I was 28, I was mocked because some people (most people?) thought I smelled bad. Now, all of these incidents were pretty insulting. I was suffering from anxiety at the time I heard the latter three, so I spent way too much time obsessing over what other people thought of me. (And developed social anxiety as a result)
At the age of 30, (which will be forever known as the year that my brain woke up) I concluded that, in spite of the fact that other people thought I was just a nice body with an ugly face, a Nerdy know-it-all, an only-pretty-because-I’m-skinny poser, and, worst of all, smelly, I was still me. I only get one chance to live this life, and I refuse to live it according to the labels other people give me. My mother believes that a person’s name is the first prophecy a person receives over his or her life. My names mean peace, and protector of mankind, so my lifetime mandate, is to fulfill the role of a peaceful protector. I can’t do that if I’m crying in my coffee because some mean broad called me ugly.
Besides, as a Christian, the only opinion of me that really matters is God’s (and my parents). Everyone who doesn’t like me can go sit in a corner.
5. Find something to be passionate about.
Currently, I have three. I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus. I am passionate about reading and writing, and I am passionate about nail polish. (I know, random) Finding something to get excited about, takes the focus off of everything that is bothering you. I occasionally have days when I’m anxious, but one good prayer session is enough to calm me. When I speak, I sometimes fumble and ramble, but I write a lot easier. (I still ramble, but at least I reach an eventual point. Sometimes) Reading is a way for me to both escape the real world, and to be fully engaged in it. I enjoy non-fiction because it always reminds me that my life while flawed, is still good. And nail polish is pretty, and it makes my hands look nice. (What? They can’t all be deep.)
6. Find Your Purpose (and if that fails, find a purpose.)
I was 26 years old when I figured out my purpose. When I graduated from high school, I had delusions of grandeur. I would go to art college, take up photography, build a solid portfolio, and eventually become a National Geographic photographer. There was only one problem: I hated art college. I wasn’t a great photographer, and I had completely lost interest in ever working for National Geographic.
When I was 26, I received confirmation that my life wasn’t going to be average. I attended a church service in Toronto, when the pastor pulled me aside and said, “If you knew how important you were to the world, you wouldn’t have walked in here with your head down.” (That was back when I was insecure) He then told me that because I had received the unconditional love and support of my parents, I was supposed to share that with people who had never experienced it. He also told me that I would not be able to fade into the background any longer(I am always more comfortable in the background). Last year, I was reminded of the year I spent in high school, training to be a peer counselor. I was sick during the last week of training, so I never got to finish. That didn’t prevent me from being the sounding board for any girl with an issue.
In three years of high school, I spoke words of encouragement to two rape victims, an anorexic, and a girl who was being abused by her boyfriend. Each time, these girls approached me first, and each time I somehow knew exactly what to say to comfort them. My year as a peer counselor, (15 years ago) helped prepare me for my future. (Heck, my Tumblr blog is about books, and my geeky fandoms, but I still get questions from followers about relationships occasionally)
Rev. Dr Creflo Dollar once said, “Whatever makes you the most angry you were born to change.” I figured out what that was in September of 2010. After a rash of shootings in my hometown, I felt completely helpless. I thought, If only these kids knew how valuable they are, they wouldn’t be trying to kill each other.
Insecure people aren’t inherently mean. They just don’t know what they are worth. If a person doesn’t know their value, that person will not value other people. If they don’t value other people, they can do things like use them, abuse them, and kill them, without giving it a second thought. The Bible says that people will grow more hard-hearted, hostile, and cruel as the years progress, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit idle and allow it to happen.
We can all do our part to create a more compassionate, and accepting society: one child at a time.
Now I know that I’m one of the people who is going to make that happen.
Well, I just rambled on for a good clip there, didn’t I? Since this post is already as long as a high school essay(1500+ words), I am going to post part 2 tomorrow.