I haven’t always been this confident or outspoken. In fact I wouldn’t even say at this point that I’m fully confident within myself. But compared to the younger me growing up, who equated instagram likes to how ‘buff‘ I was and used ‘likes‘ as a catalyst to my self confidence, I have come a long way.
Like many other people I have grown up with many insecurities, some I’ve learned to overcome and some which still exist. As I grow older my perspective and view on life has changed. Things that a younger me would have considered important, I now view as trivial and vice versa. With age, my confidence was beginning to be fuelled by a source that is much more important than external factors like social media and praise from other people. That source is me.
Growing up in school (primary and secondary) I was always quite plain-faced, hair always tied up and I always wore trousers to school (up until around Year 8), because I hated showing any skin and in general wearing skirts to school made me feel uncomfortable. I never thought or considered myself to be pretty and a ‘girly girl’ as a kid. I was quite chubby as a kid and looking back now, I recall being teased for it. It was never anything extremely malicious, but as kids you dismiss those little comments and ‘laugh it off‘ but now that I’m a lot older I can understand why I wasn’t always the most confident growing up.
Year 9 was when I think my insecurities became more apparent. I didn’t want to be the plain faced girl, who wore trousers to school and always had her hair tied up. I looked at the other girls who had pretty hair styles, wore skirts and was wearing cute lipgloss and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to look ‘pretty’. I could see that boys would show interest in them and part of me desired that attention, because I didn’t believe that just being me was enough. Indulging in make up and things to make me more ‘girly‘ boosted my confidence because I felt like I was fitting in. I was straightening my hair everyday to go to school and started to indulge in the world of makeup. I was being much more attentive to the way I look because it invited an attention I hadn’t previously known.
My lack of confidence in school also came from the fact that I was surrounded by such strong personalities and people who had very dominating characters, which behind closed doors a 14 year old me found quite intimidating some days. To be quite frank and honest, I grew up being a ‘people pleaser’ only to be faced with the reality down the line that you can’t please everyone in life.
My lack of belief in my own voice and strength led me to be someone who was always afraid of getting on someone’s ‘bad side’. I wanted to be everyone’s friend. I wanted to be liked unanimously. I wanted to be in the ‘it‘ crowd. Don’t get me wrong, I could always stand up for myself if need be and I was surrounded by people who had my back, but I feared being unpopular and ‘not fitting in’.
By being liked, it boosted my confidence. I’m not saying I didn’t grow up with some amazing friends and people, but now that I look back at that time of my life, I can understand and realise that some of the ‘friends‘ and characters I grew up around really contributed to my lack of self confidence. A teenage me probably couldn’t comprehend this properly, but a lot of those friends took advantage of my kind and giving nature (which I haven’t compromised even until today). I was unfortunately easily influenced and swayed and just wanted to do things to make other people happy. With popularity came confidence.
After being surrounded by such strong characters, I started to become a lot more confident and a lot more courageous in voicing my own opinions. People say you’re shaped by the environment and people you grow up around and I was becoming a lot more strong headed. I got involved in a lot of things at school, developed my self confidence and I was becoming my own person. I was learning that it was okay to say no to someone or to a favour, even if I was met with insult or negativity. Despite the progression I made, a part of me and a part of my confidence was still being fuelled by the affirmation and validation of others.
Now let’s introduce the world of instagram and twitter.
I remember my first instagram post (I don’t remember the exact year, Year 11 I think). Not to blow my own trumpet but that first picture I posted, I remember got quite a bit of attention and I won’t even lie to myself, I loved it. It was a selfie, my hair was curled and I had on bright red lipstick. I really wish I kept the picture to show you guys! I was getting loads of likes and comments (100 likes in those days was like gold) and I was developing this new found confidence and belief in my beauty with every like I received.
Fast forward one or two years later, I had now established myself properly on instagram, dedicating to posting a selfie every week, collecting up on those likes, and fuelling my confidence even more. I was getting male attention and compliments from other girls. It got to a point in my life where I would dedicate a lot of time and effort to try and get that banging selfie that was going to bag me 100+ likes. I would look at other girl’s instagrams that were popping at the time and think I wanna be like them, look like them and dress like them. I always wanted to make sure I looked good everytime I left the house.
The reality of it all soon began to hit me as I started growing older and became more mature.
Nowadays I don’t have the time to focus on always looking good and posting pictures constantly. With age, comes more responsibility and less time to waste doing nothing. My time is focussed on my career, my education, my friends, my family and getting my money up. Of course everyone loves posting a nice picture every now and then but I wouldn’t go to the lengths and dedicate the time I used to, to get that picture.
I finally realised that the confidence I was getting from instagram and twitter and wherever I was posting these selfies wasn’t sustainable. One day this source of confidence would be gone. I had to learn to love myself and believe that I didn’t need the validation of others. All that is important is my own view of myself. I know that I am more than how I look and the pictures I post. I want to be someone of substance and someone who believes in herself and for others to be able to say ‘she has a great personality’.
I won’t pretend, I still have insecurities. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see things about myself I want to change. I still scroll through social media and look at certain girls and think ‘wow I want a body like that‘ or ‘wow I want my make up to slay like hers’. The truth is some of these bodies I see on instagram are unachievable, a lot of what I see on instagram is very deceptive and I need to remember that a picture is only a moment. I don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. I don’t know what people might of done to get to where they are at.
Getting a lot of likes isn’t synonymous with how beautiful someone is. Beauty goes beyond looks. I learned the value of believing in your own sauce. Whether it’s 10 likes or 1000 likes, if you have self confidence and self love, none of it matters. Your life and interactions off social media is so much more important.
Naturally, when you’re on social media, you compare your lifestyle with others. You might see someone your age a bit further ahead in their career than you are and start to feel less confident in yourself. There’s this one saying I hear a lot that I will carry with me my whole life:
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
The moment you begin to compare yourself to others, and letting what you see affect your self confidence is the moment you’re doing yourself an injustice. You’re taking away your own happiness. Confidence is something that you develop, nurture and enhance within yourself. While praise and compliments from others can boost your confidence, the most important thing is that you believe it yourself.
I constantly try to tell myself: if you believe you are beautiful, you are strong and you are worthy, that is true self confidence. Your time will come, blessings will come your way. You are in your own lane, so drive at your own speed, not somebody else’s.
All these things I’m saying is what I will continue to tell myself everyday until I internalise it, breathe it and live it.