Growing up, I felt very self-conscious.
My body didn’t, “feel small enough.” My looks didn’t feel adequate. I sought validation from other people, and when I didn’t get it, I found myself believing the worst.
Because of this, I wasn’t confident in class or among my peers. .
That’s even a bit of an understatement. I would enclose myself in a cocoon to avoid interacting or talking to others. If I had to interact with them, I would always reserve my opinions to avoid conflict. I did everything I could to stay out of a spotlight that I feared would shine into my deepest insecurities.
What really helped me turn a corner was realizing that everyone feels insecure.
And I mean, everyone.
Everyone has parts of themselves that they fear aren’t good enough. Everyone worries about how they look. Everyone wants to hide something, sometimes–under the scrutiny of others.
Even the most beautiful and physically fit people I knew, possessed the very same insecurities.
It took me a long time to understand that, and once I did, I found that humanity is balanced by an equilibrium of self-awareness, self-criticism and self-love—it’s all about what you choose to focus on.
That changed how I viewed the world, myself, and how others treated me. It didn’t take me a day to feel enough either. It takes time. In the course of learning to accept myself and feel comfortable in my own skin, I learned a few things that made it easier to embrace myself.
I want to share these lessons with you as well, in case you find yourself in a similar mindset, and want to take the steps needed to get out.
1. I deprioritized external validation.
Seeking validation gives way to self-doubt. It’s okay to seek approval once in a while, but once it becomes a habit, it will affect your self-worth and self-esteem. When we start basing our daily decisions on what others say or think, we give them the power over our lives and how they make us feel. It disempowers you and lets you live a life that doesn’t reflect your personality.
You don’t need affirmation from someone else to feel good or confident about your abilities or looks. Look inwards, feed your self-esteem, surround yourself with nourishing support groups, and learn to say no.
Do you always focus on your insecurities instead of the positives? Do you always notice everything you hate about your body, clothes, or hair before seeing the beautiful curves, legs, or glowing skin?
If that is you, you may need to change your mindset.
A few years ago, that was me. I chose to fixate on the parts of my body and personality that I perceived as negative or different, instead of focusing on what made me special and unqiuely beautiful.
After I started acknowledging and amplifying my own strengths, I felt attractive, confident, and comfortable. Instead of dropping my head, I held it high.
You need to start viewing yourself positively because you are enough and you are beautiful.
2. I stepped outside my comfort zone.
I hated dresses. I hated how they clung or hung over my hips. I was convinced that I didn’t look like other women did in dresses, so I couldn’t wear them.
But that changed after watching fashion tips online, learning how to dress my body, and how to accentuate the features I loved on my body.
My hate for dresses, later on, progressed into an obsession for dresses.
I just had to try something that didn’t “feel like me” in a way that did feel like me.
So do you.
Remember that confidence is rooted in growth, and growth is obtained by stepping outside of your comfort zone.
3. I made an effort to be kinder to myself–every day.
I used to be so hard on myself when I couldn’t break away from my usual habits.
For example, I wanted to start wearing less makeup and embrace my natural skin. But whenever I would find myself going back to putting on makeup, I would start hating myself for not sticking up to the new way of living. That’s when I turned this around and started to appreciate the little steps I made and acknowledge my achievements and celebrate them.
Repeat after me –baby steps.
Your confidence isn’t going to do a 180 in one week.
Invest in and focus on general well-being, take care of yourself, and always go easy on yourself when you mess up. Sometimes we get lost in self-criticism because we seek perfection, but we’re humans and mistakes could be another chance to improve ourselves.
This is a growing experience, and you’re doing a great job.
4. I decided to deprioritize the authority I granted the wider opinions of society as a whole.
Society can be toxic. It often influences how we feel about ourselves. It has coined rules on what’s perfection and beauty.
I often would get so disappointed when I thought that I didn’t do the most with my looks to fit a certain view that society wanted me to fill. But I slowly started to realize that the expectations they put on me didn’t define me and I didn’t even want to be identified with them. That’s why I have come to learn to be kind to myself and appreciate every little action that I do toward building healthier habits.
Sometimes it’s not easy to feel enough if beauty standards constantly surround us. You’ll have to defy society and do what makes you feel confident and comfortable. Don’t fit, stand out.
5. I cut out negative influences.
Surround yourself with friends who want to see you grow. It will positively affect how you perceive your self-worth. Cut off any person who makes you negatively question your abilities or how you look. Don’t condone any person who makes you feel inferior.
I did this, and it got easier to accept and believe in myself again.
The hardest part for me was to confront my sister about her toxic approach to the way I looked. She would always have negative comments and those would get in my head. Confronting her was a difficulty but I ended up talking with her multiple times until she understood how I felt about it. Only when she changed her behavior, our relationship became genuine once again.
At the end of the day, you deserve to defend yourself and defend your self-confidence.
6. I made a point to constantly reflect, and learn from my past.
It’s hard but a necessary step to take if you desire to live an accomplished life. I would have said the same words to myself as well.
While it took some time to accept myself, I came to realize that I am enough. The fact that you’re trying to work on yourself is enough. The effort will gradually transform into self-acceptance and feeling at ease in your own skin.
Love yourself, embrace all your flaws, and choose to trust in yourself.
Don’t allow other people to define you.
Break off from self-doubt and define yourself.
If I was to meet my own self from the past I would say to her that gradually you will find your way towards identifying yourself by your own rules, just trust yourself and the journey.
You’ll get there, and it really is worth it.