After “where do you get your glasses,” the question I get asked most is probably, “how did you get so confident?” The first few times I got that question, I looked at the asker like a confused dog tilting its head to the side. Confident? Me? But I’ve gotten more, well, confident in my own confidence, so I thought it was time to share my best tips for becoming more confident.
(I’m coming at this from the perspective of a plus size woman, since that’s the life I live, but I think these are universally applicable!)
Fake it ’til you make it
I’m going to start with the most important one first. If you take one thing away from this post, it should be that. A big part of confidence, at least in the beginning, is not letting any negativity get you down…including from yourself. Pick someone you think is rad and confident. When you’re feeling iffy, imagine what they would do and do that instead. I used to think oh my god everyone is going to know I’m totally petrified, I’m nowhere near confident enough to pull this off but the thing is…they really don’t. If you’re projecting confidence on the outside, no one has to know that you’re shaking inside. And the longer you “fake” confidence, the more natural it becomes.
Not knowing how to accept compliments/feeling embarrassed about being complimented is something I hear from women a lot. Here’s the secret: say “thank you.” If you’re deep in conversation or feeling enthusiastic about chatting, feel free to add some details about where you got that thing you got complimented on or what you liked about it, or throw a compliment back their way. But if you’re feeling shy or embarrassed, just smile and say “thank you.” Never argue with or dispute a compliment (unless it’s just something that’s objectively false, like someone compliments you on a great job you did on a painting that you didn’t make). It’s a little thing, but the more you train yourself to accept compliments, even if you don’t believe them, the closer you get to being able to say, “They’re right. I did rock that.”
Look at yourself
Whether it’s taking selfies or standing in front of a mirror, it always helps to know what you’re working with. It sounds silly, but I’ve definitely noticed that living alone (aka in a “pants optional” zone) has really made me feel more comfortable and confident in myself. Especially if you’re outside the “beauty norm” (as they say), it can feel very taboo to even pay attention to your body. You’re taught to ignore it or punish it, to insist that this flesh you inhabit isn’t you, the real you. But your physical body is an important part of who you are, and it’s not anything to be ashamed of. Take pictures, admire yourself, make silly faces, try on outfits…whatever helps you understand yourself better.
Find your role models
There’s no way that I would be here today talking to you like some kind of confidence expert if it wasn’t for the stylish and unapologetic women I started following in the plus size fashion community. Having someone to model being awesome for you is so helpful when you don’t usually see people like that represented in media. Not that you can only find inspiration from people who look like you; a broad mix of people of all sizes, shapes and styles is definitely ideal for developing your own confidence!
Remember no one cares
When I was growing up, my dad would always say “no one would care what other people thought of them if we realized how little they do.” It’s true: everyone is the protagonist of their own story, and people just honestly aren’t paying that much attention to what other people are doing. You’re the one who’s paying the most attention to what you’re doing…shouldn’t you do what makes you happiest?
Ration your fucks
The older I get, the more obvious it becomes to me that fucks are a precious, limited resource. There are definitely moments in life when you have to give a fuck, but they’re fewer and farther between than we think. Some stranger on the street doesn’t like my outfit? Sorry. I don’t have any fucks to waste on that. I’m not going to claim that I never think about what other people think, but I’ve gotten to the point that it just doesn’t matter to me? I do sometimes think “OMG but what if they think I’m weird???” but instead of stopping there and giving up, I think, “Will the pain of them thinking I’m weird outweight the joy I get from doing what I want to do?” The answer is almost never yes.
I hope that this primer on self confidence helped a few of you; these tips aren’t anything revolutionary, but I know that I spent a long time reading blogs about body positivity and self love before I finally started to internalize it and be able to apply those messages to myself. Hopefully this post can be one more step on your journey.