Confidence is something I have always struggled with. I was bullied in middle school so I know that was part of the problem, but a big part of the problem was I never taught to be confident. Some kids are just graced with natural confidence, but I was not one of those kids.
I think there's a lot that goes in to being confident. To me being confident is not just feeling good about how you look, but that is definitely part of it. I was never comfortable with how I looked, even today I sometimes find myself playing the comparison game. Social media makes it so easy to compare our looks and lives to someone else's lives when in reality we know NOTHING about that person. Someone can have a seemingly "perfect" body or life on instagram but struggle with an eating disorder or depression or other issues that no one knows about.
I went through a rather toxic relationship a number of years ago where I was regularly degraded. That relationship totally shattered the little confidence I had left in myself. Looking back I am totally ashamed that I let myself be devalued on a daily basis, but on the flip side I also learned a lot from it and I am completely different person now (thankfully). When the relationship ended I was incredibly hurt but I took time to work on myself. I began to invest time into things that made me happy- fitness, nutrition, reporting, etc. and slowly I began to build confidence in myself.
A professor once told me that confidence is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. As I began to invest time in myself and do things that I genuinely loved I began to gain confidence in myself. Reporting was (and is) my passion, but it became a space where I was able to gain a lot of confidence. I had no problem stepping in front of a camera on location or in studio to deliver news. I love chasing down a story, conducting interviews, and asking the hard questions that people want or need to know. The confidence I gained reporting carried over into other areas of my life as well.
I've learned to accept gaining confidence is a process. It's not something where you go to bed and wake up in the morning more confident, I wish it worked like that but it doesn't. I spent much of college working to better myself. You see there was always a sassy, confident, speak her mind kind of girl inside of me, but I didn't know how to channel that. Now I have no qualms about speaking my mind, in fact a lot of times I speak my mind when others don't care to hear it (I blame the reporter inside of me).
The woman I am now would like to go back and shake my younger self, but in a lot of ways I think if I had not gone through that horrible relationship I wouldn't be where I am today. I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get going again. I learned to stand on my own two feet, to say NO, how to love myself, and most importantly that I am worthy of love. The person I am today would never put up with the kind of stuff I did back then and I certainly would never let a man, or anyone for that matter, talk to me the way he did. I am worthy of respect and I am worthy of love and if you can't handle that, then you have no place in my life.
That's not to say that I don't struggle with confidence anymore because I do. There are still aspects of that unhealthy relationship that I struggle with. I think it's impossible to escape an unhealthy relationship unscathed. I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about that relationship because I'm ashamed of it. While I know that I would never allow myself to be in that situation now there are things that happened in that relationship that have left scars. Luckily, my boyfriend is a very patient person and any issues that have come up we have worked through together.
Confidence is about so much more than how you look. There's nothing wrong with being confident. Some people may dismiss you as arrogant, but so what? I'm proud that I am confident enough to stand up to someone and say no. I'm also proud that I'm confident enough to look like a total bum (sweatpants, hoodie, messy bun) in front of my boyfriend because the old me would never have thought about letting a guy see me like that. Guess what? My boyfriend doesn't love me any less for bumming it up on movie nights. I don't dress like that all the time because I do love dressing up and looking nice, but I do it for myself not to impress anyone else.
Of course I still have days, and will have days in the future, where I don't feel good enough, or beautiful enough, or smart enough, or fill in the blank enough. Remember that you are enough. Period. End of discussion. Don't let anyone degrade you or tell you that you are anything less. Be confident in who you are. Own your personality. I love the fact that I'm naturally inclined to ask a zillion questions because it makes me a better reporter. I love that I'm not afraid to laugh and have fun with people even if I look silly. I have gotten more confident as I have gotten older, but part of that process has just been embracing who I am.
I truly think confidence is sexy. There's a saying that the best makeup a girl can wear is a smile, but I think the best thing a girl (or anyone) can do is be confident. Be confident in who you are. Everyone is so different and so unique and its amazing! The world would be such a boring place if we were all alike. Embrace your differences and your uniqueness because those things make you YOU. Be confident about them because people notice confident people and people want to be around confident people. Be confident in who you are because who you are is pretty dang awesome. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.