The 20s are seriously like a roller coaster. They are filled with ups and downs and many, many highs and lows. You change a LOT in your 20s. You go (and grow) from being basically a baby, entering the workforce, feeling proud about your new ID and your first legal drink, all the way to establishing yourself in the workforce (or having several different jobs), thinking about marriage (perhaps), going to grad school (possibly), buying a house or moving locations (also perhaps), and simply put, growing up. With career changes, school changes, housing decisions, relationship decisions, and the millions of other decisions you make in your 20s, it is HARD to always feel confident in yourself and in your decisions, especially when you keep getting knocked down or rerouted.
And society puts all kinds of pressure on us in our 20s. We start to believe that we have to do things by a certain age when we really don’t, and we also get preoccupied with comparing ourselves to other people and then feeling down about ourselves. For instance: when your plans didn’t go as you hoped and you didn’t start grad school by the ripe age of 24, did you suddenly panic and think that others would think you were lazy? Or did you immediately jump to the conclusion that you were falling behind and not doing a good job with…life? Or, do you get completely nervous in work meetings because you don’t feel confident enough to speak up…even a little bit? And then do you reach the conclusion that you are awkward and have poor communication skills, and then feel even worse about yourself?
Perhaps you constantly put yourself down because you are a chronic perfectionist. Perhaps you never feel comfortable in your clothes or in the outfits you assemble.
Do any of these speak true to you? All of these things add up and wear down on us. That’s why it’s super important that we learn how to be confident, and that we learn confidence boosting strategies so that in time we begin to feel more comfortable with who we are and how we show up. Here are a few tips if you (like me) are in need of a confidence boost:
1. Experiment with your style. In a podcast interview with a fashion guru I listened to a while back, the host asked the interviewee what advice she had for girls who wanted to experiment with and feel more confident with their style. The stylist recommended that girls add something unexpected to their outfit every day, meaning they should add something they wouldn’t normally pair with that outfit, then see how they feel wearing it throughout the day. Switching it up a little with things you already own is a budget-friendly way to experiment with new looks. I love this recommendation because it’s cheap, it’s fun, and it allows you to play around with your normal look. Maybe for you, this is adding a statement necklace to a patterned print top that you usually only wear simple jewelry with, or maybe it’s as simple as adding a scarf or a fun belt to an outfit that you previously left plain. This practice allows you to try new things little by little and find what you feel more or less confident in. I think the act of just wearing something you wouldn’t typically wear also slowly boosts your confidence as in the long run. If an outfit doesn’t turn out as cute as you expected, what’s the big deal? You won’t really care.
2. Explore your potential rather than just daydreaming about it. Maybe you have a story you want to let out on paper. Maybe you have a dream of taking beautiful photographs to share on your blog or on Instagram. Maybe you’ve always wanted to dance. So what’s holding you back? Usually, it’s one thing: fear. And to break out of this fear mindset, you have to take action and try things. So turn your intention into action by exploring your potential to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. Sign up for a beginning ballet class or a barre class. Post a few photos you have already taken and feel proud of them. Add in cute quotes or captions. It’s all about starting somewhere. You have to try things to be confident, as often, confidence grows along the way. And remember, the expert always starts out as a beginner. Don’t compare your beginning to anyone else’s middle.
3. Tap into your limiting beliefs and debunk them. Be honest with yourself. What are your limiting beliefs? What beliefs do you hold about yourself that are holding you back in living a life you love? When you know them, prove them wrong. If you realize that your limiting belief is that you don’t think you are interesting enough or talkative enough to start a podcast, but you’ve always wanted a podcast, start the podcast! Maybe thinking you don’t have enough time is a huge limiting belief for you. Maybe you don’t think you have the time to take an online class that you really want to take. Take the class. Create the time. For those of you who don’t believe that your ideas are interesting enough to share with others: join a book club. Start sharing your voice because ultimately, it’s needed. And you need to learn this. See, limiting beliefs are only beliefs. They are created in our heads and aren’t factual. They aren’t true limits. Therefore, they can be stretched and pushed, and ultimately broken!
4. Root for others and cheer them on. Rather than constantly comparing yourself to other people, cheer them on. Realize that their successes are not your failures. You are not in a competition, you are all working side by side and with one another. Just because someone is good at something, it doesn’t mean you need to compare yourself to them. You are individual people with individual minds and thoughts, and these thoughts are what make you you. If you can begin to cheer for other people, you will slowly drop some of your limiting beliefs about yourself not being good enough. You will see that when you support others, they will also support you and help you grow. Remember, her strengths are not your weaknesses.
5. Know and use your strengths. Whether it’s at work, in your personal life, or in school, acknowledge your strengths and be intentional about working from your strengths. If you know you are a great communicator and confident talking in front of people, maybe you should be in a field in which you are presenting or training people, or possibly mediating conversations. If you thrive in organization, maybe you should be working in a field such as event planning or social media management. Try to find a job, or a role in your current job, that allows you to thrive from and build on your strengths. You will feel more confident because you will be in a field in which your strengths are shining through and helping you to be more comfortable. Feeling confident in one area of life will help you in other areas where you are less confident or comfortable.
6. Please, please, please…drop the comparisons. You see all of these people out there our age who are “making it.” Those who are living their own magical lives (or at least their lives appear magical on Instagram). You see them thriving in success, starting their own businesses and sharing beautiful photos of their matcha lattes with adaptogens and cordyceps and all sorts of potions mixed in. And of course you wonder, should you be drinking that too? Should you be eating fancy breakfast bowls or drinking smoothies rather than the usual quick bowl of cereal or toast? The answer is: not necessarily. Just because something is working for someone else doesn’t mean it would work for you. And just because someone else is successful in a different field or even in your field, it doesn’t mean you aren’t successful or that you are doing something wrong. Comparisons only make you worry. They only make you nervous that you aren’t enough. So why keep making comparisons? Next time your brain jumps to start comparing you to someone else, immediately give yourself three compliments. Tell yourself three things that you are really doing well, or three things that you are good at.
7. Start a gratitude journal. You’d be surprised at how much this can help in becoming more confident. While writing down three things a day that you are grateful for doesn’t sound like it would relate to your self confidence, it actually does because it allows you to put things into perspective. It allows you to realize that some of the things you are worried about don’t even matter. It allows you to focus on the good in your life, and when you are looking at life from a positive perspective, you are much more likely to accept who you are.
8. Listen to your intuition. Pay attention to what your gut is telling you, especially when you are facing a predicament. Rather than second guessing yourself, or worrying that you aren’t going to do the best thing or say the right thing, really just listen to your intuition. Try not to overthink every decision you make. Overthinking in general, and ignoring your own intuition, is going to lead you down the path to anxiety, low confidence, and uncertainty. When you can get in touch with your intuition and start to follow it, you will feel more confident in the decisions you make.
9. Do something creative. Creativity is a huge outlet for confidence and for feeling good about yourself. Sometimes creativity sparks the quieter confidence, it helps you to feel more at peace in your body and mind. Take the time to create something. Take some beautiful photographs, write a blog post, create a recipe, paint a watercolor painting, sketch some spring flowers, write a poem….do whatever feels right for you. Creativity gets good energy flowing within you. It knocks down your walls and helps you to get more in touch with who you really are deep down.
10. Remember to appreciate where you are in life. If you put so much time and energy into where you want to be in life without acknowledging where you are now, you’re constantly going to be pushing yourself to be better. And unfortunately, when you do this, you might start putting down where you are now, or thinking you have not accomplished enough. It’s always good to grow, to learn, and to have goals, but it’s also extremely important to realize how far you have come. To be confident, to truly have a good relationship with yourself, it’s really important to celebrate the little successes every day. It’s important to find happiness in who you are today, and to understand that you are a full, complete human being exactly as you are.