May 17, 2012

The Day I Became Confident

be who you are
Confidence is a funny thing. Funny…and always on my mind. Yesterday, I noticed that in a list of about 10 things I “take in” upon meeting people, I make a point to become conscious of how confident someone else is feeling. I can only assume I’ve been doing this for years, as I tend to overcompensate with friendliness if I can sense someone feels self-conscious.

Contrary to what you may expect, confidence is just as rare in the fashion and beauty industry as it is anywhere else.

It got me thinking about my own level of confidence. The growth of it, to be exact. At 22, I have been told I possess a level of confidence (or a self-assured demeanor) that is few and far between. A confidence that allowed me to move internationally multiple times, pitch to some of the biggest companies in the world, be comfortable when I ‘stand alone’, etcetera. Four years ago, I wasn’t like this.

Let me take you back to high school. Kind of. As a precursor to this story, I have to explain that due to a few traumatic personal problems, I put in some urgent and hard work to graduate with a Honors diploma a few years before my peers. I left show choir (yes, Glee), musicals (the highlight of my teen life), and the ‘security’ of being a Honors student behind.

In 2008, as the rest of my peers went to prom and graduated, I had already attended college and began to build a successful name for myself. Out of the blue, my Freshman year English teacher invited me to come back to attend a small party at the school where the rest of the Honors class would be looking back at the ‘start’ of high school life (when we were in her class) and the journey from that point.

At that point, it seemed like a great excuse to catch up with friends who I hadn’t seen in months (due to my awkward schedules and travelling) and wish everyone my best as they went off to college. My inner ‘expectations vs reality’ video was numbing.

At this ‘party’:
a) I was stared at (we’re talking “why are you here?” stares) by everyone but two kind friends.
b) A boy – who I barely knew – loudly joked to a table of our peers about the fact that I was wearing heels and had a visible tattoo.
c) I was completely ignored by girls who I had considered to be friends.
d) A Looking Back photo slideshow was presented, and every time I was on screen I would hear a table of former friends snigger and make comments.

I can’t tell you anything else that happened in the hour I was there. The words and actions spread from my stomach to my head like a virus. I left the building and climbed into my friends car. Deciding to miss the event herself, she consoled my apparent hurt (“Who died?!”) by telling me that many of the aforementioned girls had been gossiping about me throughout the school day.

Do they hate me because I’m wearing makeup? Do they hate me because I couldn’t explain why I had to leave? Do they hate me because I’ve gained weight? Do they hate me because they’ve always hated me and I’m only realising now? Then it hit me…they didn’t hate me. Be it jealousy, or self-consciousness, or whatever personal problems cause someone to deflect viciously…I had done nothing to deserve the comments and the comments had nothing to do with me.

With that in mind, I made the decision to stop caring. There and then. To never feel lonely or hurt, I chose confidence as my new priority. I was (and still strive to be) a strong, successful, happy, kind, and optimistic young woman. I was actively pursuing the best I had to offer. There is no room for lack of self-confidence in that formula. No need to justify who I am or what I do.

The mind/matter Seuss philosophy is the purest instigation for confidence, and what I suppose could represent the ‘moral’ of this braindump. Confidence is a) a blanket word to cover everything that defines taking chances, accepting the cards you’ve been dealt, pursuing happiness, AND b) vital.

I hope this helps you find yours.

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