Hey y’all! Welcome back. I haven’t gotten a chance to write or post in two weeks! It feel like it’s been forever.
Since the start of the upcoming school year is just around the corner for me and for other college students around the country, I thought that it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about confidence.
Whether you are starting a new school year, or your first day at a new job, or moving to a new city that you don’t have much experience being in, confidence is one of the most important characteristics- if not the most important characteristic- that you need to have with you in your “first day” toolkit. But for many of us, confidence can be hard to come by, especially when you’re afraid of people criticizing you about one thing or another. This is the biggest reason why I’ve struggled all of my life with having confidence: when I was a kid, I thought that the key to confidence was fitting in, and acting and doing all of the things that every other kid did. But it was while I was doing that when I realized that because I was trying so hard to be “normal”, I never could- there was always a reason for someone to judge me. As I got older things got better because I learned to embrace the things that I liked about myself and not those things that I wanted other people to think about me. But even now, when I’m pretty secure in my own shoes, there are times when hearing criticism really gets to me.
One thing that has really helped me in these times is realizing that someone thinking that something is wrong with me doesn’t make something wrong with me. I’ve been called stupid for having political opinions that are heavily critical of American policies of presidents and political leaders of both sides of the political spectrum; I’ve been told that my makeup looks bad when it is darker than usual; I’ve been called lazy and unhelpful, I’ve been called a work-a-holic, I’ve been told that I’m gullible, that I’m clumsy, that I’m a pushover, that I’m “too nice”- I’ve been told a lot of things about myself, but I’ve never been made into any of them. Perhaps this realization is the biggest push that I’ve had to becoming more confident. Other people can choose to say a lot of things about you, but they can’t force you to choose to become any of those things.
None of this means, however, that you should completely ignore every piece of criticism that you receive: you should pay attention to constructive criticism, or the kind that helps you build up. Even the criticism that is destructive can be flipped into constructive criticism; maybe someone calls you ignorant- instead of letting that comment tear you down or completely ignoring it, let it allow you to realize that maybe the person you are speaking to feels unheard, or misunderstood. Maybe someone calls you sloppy- what if that means that this person feels they could trust you better if you kept things more neat? People often deal destructive criticism as a way of projecting their feelings onto you. So when dealing with criticism, it’s important to be empathetic to the person you are dealing with, especially if this person is a friend or loved one.
Words can hurt, and when it comes to criticism, words often do hurt. But always remember that what you do with your criticism, and how you think about it, how you deal with it and how you deal it to others is on you. Finding confidence in criticism isn’t like looking for a needle in a stack- it’s not impossible or unattainable, even in the worst of times. The easiest and best way to find your confidence is to construct it on your own, using each piece of criticism you find in your path.