"Is everyone looking at me?"
"That was so stupid! Why did I do that?"
"Do I look okay? I look ugly, don't I?"
"Are they laughing at me?"
"I shouldn't even try. I'm gonna be terrible at it anyway!"
Where do all of these messages come from? Have you ever let yourself listen to them?
There's a saying I've always admired:
"When you're twenty, you care what everyone thinks. When you're forty, you stop caring what everyone thinks. When you're sixty, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place."
I propose we all realize this much sooner than sixty years old and that, even if everyone was thinking about us and whispering behind our backs, it really wouldn't matter!
First Enemy: Loneliness
It's so easy to feel misunderstood; it's easy to be misunderstood.
You sit alone: wishing, longing, and just hoping that, someday, someone who really gets you will come along and make everything better. You dream that, suddenly, someone will love you for who you are and that no one else's opinion will matter anymore.
To an extent, sometimes, a best friend, group of friends, or significant other can make you feel that way. You're afraid of no other opinion because that one person or group of people makes you feel that you're worth something. That's great, and you should definitely treasure relationships like that!
But what if those relationships come to an end? What if someone changes his or her attitude toward you and that bubble of security is suddenly gone? What then?
I suppose you can always find other great people to make you feel secure, but can you really 100% depend on another imperfect human being to fulfill you and make you feel good about yourself?
Second Enemy: The Ripple Effect
First of all, take the things you say to and about yourself seriously (whether aloud or in your head).
Every one of those words ripples through your mind, no matter how small the impact seems, subtly tarnishing the way you see yourself.
Instead, let confident thoughts and statements resonate from and within you.
"Looks like I failed again..."
Switch it to:
"Meh, so I failed; it happens to the best of us. What can I do better next time?"
I am a perfectionist and someone who expects to be good at anything with my first try. Very often, that doesn't happen. What I needed to learn and am still learning is that there is nothing wrong with being bad at something. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not your friend, nor is this person correct in any aspect of the word.
You should never be afraid to try new things, and you should never be afraid of failing at them!
Third Enemy: Idleness
Next, give yourself activities that make you feel good about yourself. They could be projects or hobbies you feel inclined toward, like woodcarving, scrapbooking, doing puzzles, playing an instrument, writing, etc. Finishing a project or getting better at a certain skill is a fulfilling sensation and certainly a confidence booster!
I'm not proposing you distract yourself or use band-aid solutions for some temporary sense of self-worth. We just often underestimate how the small things add up, whether positive or negative.
It isn't just what other people say about you; it is also what you say about yourself.
First Retaliation: Take action to brighten your own day.
There are magical ingredients for brightening your day: one of which is endorphins. Get up and do something with the energy you have, and you'll find you can create more!
Don't worry; I have no intention of coercing or guilting you into exercising. I'm honestly not a fan of exercising myself, unless it's just a result of doing something entertaining that happens to be active. However, moving around and getting your blood flowing seriously does make you feel better: it is scientifically proven.
Next time you're feeling down, get up and dance, sword-fight, shoot some hoops, go for a jog, go to the gym, or even hop on a horse and just take off! Whatever you want to get up and do, your body will have a hard time feeling lethargic and/or down when you're pumping energy and warmth into it!
The endorphins which you produce through moving your body actively in sports, exercise, or any active game will lift your spirits, give you more energy, and make you feel overall better about life.
Second Retaliation: Learn to laugh at yourself!
You know one of the biggest sources of being embarrassed or humiliated in front of other people? Ego. No one wants to look stupid.
No matter how the movies paint it, no one can look as cool as James Bond or Jason Bourne or Aragorn all the time. And there's no need to. People who look cool and never laugh at themselves are just... boring and two-dimensional. Real character and self-confidence is found in knowing when to laugh at yourself.
Take it from a drama queen who used to take herself seriously all the time; it is way too much work and never worth it. Just look at Thor above; he's awesome, he does stupid stuff sometimes, and yet he is still awesome!
Just remember: I'm not saying you should call yourself stupid all the time, because you're not! I've countered the extreme of hating yourself in the previous sections, and now I'm countering the extreme of loving yourself way too much! Find a balance.
Third Retaliation: Change the way you see yourself.
Loving and respecting yourself,
Attaining hobbies and skills you enjoy,
Getting your body to move around and build up energy...
These are all very valuable tools for building up your self-confidence.
Ultimately, though, you just need to give yourself a break. Forget what people say and forget all the regrets, failures, worries, etc. that are weighing down on your shoulders right now. Just read the following statement and know that it is absolutely something you deserve to hear:
Love who you are.
Be proud of what you've accomplished.
Don't be afraid of failing; embrace it.
Decide what you believe. Take others' counsel, but your opinion is the deciding vote.
Take charge of your own life and dare to dream.
Whatever you will attain in life, put in the work to earn it.
Change what needs to change, and embrace what should stay the same.
Love yourself and live your life to its fullest!
Thanks so much for reading!