How I Learned to Believe in Myself and How You Can Do It Too!
Confidence. Oh boy! That’s a tough subject.
But hey, I certainly didn’t start this blog to talk about frivolities. No, no, no!
Let’s give it a definition, first of all. You might be surprised to know that vocabularies offer different interpretations of the term. Cambridge Dictionary writes “Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something”, while the MacMillan says “confidence is the belief that you are able to do things well.” And finally, the Merriam-Webster, an institution in the world of dictionaries, states that “confidence is the faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.”
These are just three examples, there are plenty more, and I am sure that you have already noticed the pattern, haven’t you?
There is a word that is common in all these three definitions, that same word is also the key to explaining the entire concept, or how to get there, in case confidence is not your forte: belief.
In order to be confident you have to believe in yourself. That’s it. That’s what we have to do. Easy, uh? No so obvious at all, at least it wasn’t for me.
You see, growing up, I had my share of insecurities like everyone else. At school, the boys would make fun of my height and my shoulder bones. Comments that made me feel bad, ugly and different. The fun part is that the two things considered flaws of mine at the time are the very same peculiarities that helped me a lot in my modeling career.
I was also comparing my teen-age self with experienced, grown-up models who, in my eyes, seemed just perfect with their fully developed, splendid bodies.
Things got better in college -and with age! While I was busy enjoying my student life, the pageant opportunity knocked on my door. That’s when the same girl from above, the one with the worst posture ever, who never went to a gym and never learned how to dress up or walk or act, found herself casting for the role of her life: Miss Atlántico.
Now, let me clear up something: my parents never forced me to do anything. I wanted this, it was all me and my love for challenges and growth. Still, it was a lot to handle: in fact, I was pretending to be the most confident person in the world, but deep inside that was not true.
Surprisingly, I ended up becoming Miss Atlántico and then Miss Colombia for real and that’s when the confidence training started. It was an interesting experience. On one side you see all the praise and the exposure and the nice dresses, but that all comes with a lot of judgement. When you run a pageant you are always exposed to critique, anybody’s critique: how you walk, what you say, how you laugh, what you like and dislike. So many possibilities for critique that at some point you realize that either you accept the fact that some people may not like you, or you will forever be a slave to other people’s judgements.
Once that hit me, that’s when confidence really started to seep in.
I was getting stronger and feeling more alive day by day; I was starting to truly believe in myself. I didn’t know it yet, but something much bigger was about to come and with that, more people watching and judging without even less filters and compassion: Miss Universe.
But hey, I signed up for that so… no complains! It was an opportunity for just more work on myself and more training to get stronger and more confident about myself.
My confidence started to grow when I experienced my highest and lowest, when I was extremely judged and also extremely flattered, and when I realized that people were not going to respect me just because I had won a couple of contests.
Being pretty just isn’t enough. And besides, being just pretty is… pretty boring!
And that’s the mental switch I needed. Once I stopped caring about everyone’s opinion and realized that it was not about beauty bur rather about me, things changed almost overnight.
So even when I felt ugly and didn’t have all the correct answers, I thought I was enough, and it was totally fine to still have space to make mistakes, to learn and to grow. That’s the exciting part about life, the process.
All of this ultimately made me understand that I wanted more: to do more and to be more. So now you can tell me that I am the prettiest, or maybe the ugliest, and it won’t affect me. It just doesn’t matter to me anymore.
And I hope that this real me can inspire others to become more confident too. As I wrote before, you don’t have to be perfect: you just have to be the best version of YOURSELF.
Here are a few tips that have helped me through the years and that I encourage you to follow:
1) Write down your fears on a piece of paper, and then do anything you can do overcome them, push yourself and keep trying new things.
2) Remember that there is no such thing as perfect. Perfect is just the way you are.
3) And finally, always, always remember that you are unique. nobody is like you, and right there is your main asset.
And if you are still unsure that you can do this, try this little exercise: project yourself into the future and imagine being 80 years old. You are looking back to your life and you realize that, because of your lack of confidence, you didn’t talk to someone, or try something you wanted to do. All things that might have helped you reach your dreams, which you set aside because you were afraid to try. But at that point, it is far too late to change things, the opportunities are lost, as so you feel yourself. I just described to you my scariest dream, and that’s what pushes me forward, what makes me embrace challenges.
I bet that you don’t want to be that person, do you? I thought so. So please, don´t waste any more time NOT believing in yourself. Time is the most valuable thing we all have in life, so use it to the fullest.
You got it?
Photo Credits for header: Alessandra Fiorini