Where Your Self-Confidence Will Grow the Most Over Time
I didn't really understand the word "confidence" until my sophomore year of college.
I had a roommate who dripped with confidence. It had nothing to do with looks or clothes or who she hung out with—her confidence came entirely from within, and it was unlike anything I'd ever witnessed. This was the first time I met someone who was totally herself, and with no apologies or insecurities about it.
She had her flirty, "popular" BFF, but also this whole other group of hippies who were the complete opposite. Some days she'd wear a ton of MAC makeup and style her hair with an expensive flat iron—other days she'd wear a tracksuit, no makeup and a messy bun. She'd go on dates with guys my other roommates and I would deem "weird," but she had no shame in giving everyone a chance. And on that same note, she could seriously go up to any guy at a party without flinching, and strike up a convo. I could never.
In the grand scheme of things, I wouldn't say my roommate had any sort of longstanding influence on my life—but, looking back, she had a way about her that was admirable and unheard of at the time. Long before there were social media movements or websites that preached empowerment, there wasn't anyone or anything (besides our parents) teaching us our worth and giving us the power to not care about what anyone thinks of us.
I certainly never wanted to be her by any means (because I knew I wanted to be me), but to exude that level of self-esteem at such a young age is pretty remarkable.
Fast-forward 15 years and, of course, I'm thinking: If only I knew then what I know now. I'm amazed with how much my confidence has grown since those days. Don't get me wrong—like everyone, I have a ton of insecurities. That's part of life. And I still, occasionally, get wrapped up in what other people are doing that I'm not yet doing—yeah, it happens. But overall, I feel pretty comfortable in my day-to-day life and with the people I choose to spend my time with.
If, like most of us, you struggle with your confidence, keep reading for how that will eventually change in five major areas of your life:
While knowing how to spell and write is considered a must in today's era of social media and technology, when I was growing up, most of my grade school teachers and the people around me basically told me I wouldn't get far in life without being good at math and science. Well, guess what? Since graduating college, my use of science is minimal at best and the math I use is limited to fractions and decimals (which I love anyway). My editorial passions growing up were considered "uncool" and "useless," but, because I stuck to what I love and what I know I'm best at, I've been able to excel in my career.
As you get older and start meeting other like-minded people, you'll realize there's a niche for everyone. You'll make friends who do the same thing as you, and really expanding on your passions will help mold you into the person you're truly meant to be. I'm happier than ever that I followed my dreams and stuck to my skills.
I'm finally in a place where I know the styles and materials that are most flattering on me. It doesn't matter my height or weight—I've grown confident in dressing for my body.
That said, looking back (probably even up to five years ago), I would either buy something because I thought it was cute, or maybe because it was a trendy item that everyone else was wearing. The older I get, the more I realize that a "name brand" doesn't mean anything, and just because so-and-so has a pair of whatever, doesn't mean that same item will look good on me.
Once I developed a style that suits my personality, the rest just followed. Do I still have bad outfit days? Oh my gosh, quite a bit—but that's usually because I can't make the whole look work that day. It's not because I'm trying to pull off something that isn't me at all. I've also stopped caring if I wear something that most people wouldn't wear. People associate me with my unique style, and again, as long as what I wear flatters my body, I feel 100% confident.
Your Dating Life
I'm the first to admit that, when I was younger, when it came to crushes and dating, looks and popularity were everything. I mean, who wasn't crushing on the cutest person in class? It was sometimes about their sense of humor, but rarely about intelligence or values—just silly, vain characteristics, which is probably why none of those situations manifested into anything worthwhile.
Now, there's so much more to liking someone than what I valued before. That said, I absolutely need to be attracted to someone if I'm going to date or crush on them, and okay, yeah, I want them to have a healthy social life and be accepted by my friends. But, unlike before, them being cute doesn't automatically make them a catch.
This is probably the area in which your confidence will grow most over time.
Ryan Seacrest recently said it best on his morning show: "You no longer attract the wrong people when you heal the part of yourself that once needed them."
I experienced two longtime toxic "best friendships" throughout high school and college. Part of the toxicity in any relationship is codependency. There are so many ups and downs and you keep going back to that person (friend or otherwise) because you feel like you aren't complete without them in your life.
As I matured, found myself and met the people I'm friends with now, I almost immediately outgrew some of the people who I once felt like I couldn't live without.
Once you're happy with who you are, the standards you set for people you let into your life and the way they treat you will change dramatically. And the more you hold onto those requirements, your confidence will continue to grow.
I would never allow myself to be treated now the way I was treated years ago by certain people. Sometimes it really takes time and experience to give you that self-worth.
(Mean Girls via Paramount Pictures)
When I was younger, in school and surrounded by people I didn't click with, it was easy to be super self-conscious about what I said or how I acted.
As you grow up, find yourself and have the ability to surround yourself more frequently with the people you want to spend your time with, you'll start feeling more comfortable just being you.
Whether you make dorky jokes, aren't super knowledgeable in a particular area or feel self-conscious about something and just want to vent, you'll grow to be okay with being you.
Real talk: There may always be a part of you that cares what people think, and there will probably always be people you'd prefer not to have around, but growing older and experiencing more will help you deal with those situations a bit better.
You'll grow to speak with conviction, and, when you do, others will appreciate what you have to say.
Wanna get a headstart on building more of your confidence? Get rid of THESE five types of toxic friends in your life!