Updated: Nov 10, 2021
If you were to define the word confident, what would you say? Until recently, my definition of confidence sounded something like "I speak well in front of others" or "I'm not afraid to perform in front of an audience". I thought that confidence was a very outward characteristic. In fact, over the summer one of my goals was to “be more confident". My intention in setting this goal was to be brave when having hard conversations and to be vulnerable in sharing my experiences with people around me.
As I worked on my goal of becoming more confident, I started to realize that my definition of confidence was missing something important. Dictionary.com defines confidence as being sure of oneself. Being sure of myself is definitely NOT just giving a smooth presentation or having courage in a difficult situation. Being sure of myself is also NOT just keeping calm when you are nervous or reaching outward when things are challenging.
The first piece of being sure of yourself is to really know yourself. What DO you want? Who are you trying to BE? We live in a world that tells us a lot of the ways we "should" be and we keep ourselves so busy chasing this idea that we can loose sight of what we want and who we want to be. I know that I have been through phases of my life where I had no idea what I wanted (even simple things like what movie to watch for the night). Hopefully you are not as far off track as I was, but where do we even start trying to figure out what we want? Figuring out what we really want takes self-reflection and being willing to ask yourself hard questions and really face the answers. Most of us are not used to really figuring out what we want amid the list of things that we're told by the world we should be doing. We get jobs and pay bills and buy a house and sometimes we don't even stop to think if it's something we really want. We join the PTA and sign the kids up for sports and take the kids to karate and music lessons and never stop to think about why we're doing all of these things.
As you begin to assess where you are, start with a few questions like: What IS working? What DO you love about your life? What would you do if your life were perfect? Try not to fall into the pattern of only focusing on external things, but also think about ways you can bring a piece of "the long-term dream" into your daily life.
For example, maybe "someday" you want to live by the beach. What might bring the feel of the beach to your life today? Is it a daily walk or listening to sounds of the ocean? Sitting and relaxing with your favorite drink? Once we start to become sure of the things we want, then we can become more sure of the things that we're doing. Once we decide that family dinner is important or that we love our job or that we are really thriving by volunteering for the PTA then it becomes easier to do these things with confidence AND happiness. Some of the things I have been doing lately that have helped me are to journal and to talk to friends about my dreams and aspirations. I have asked myself the question over and over and over… and over and over and over… “What DO I want?” And I have thought about and written about and talked about what I want to the point that now I have a pretty good idea of what I want and now that I know what I want I can ask for it, I can go after it, and I can change it when I feel inspired. And now that I actually understand what it means to be confident, I can say that I feel the most confident and sure of myself that I’ve felt in a long time!
As always… I want you to turn this idea inward… how can YOU be more confident? Do you know what you want? Are you willing to ask for it? Go for it? Fight for it? What does it mean to you to be sure of yourself?