Experiencing discomfort is not easy – often times, it makes us feel exposed, raw, scrutinized. This is because, in situations where we are ourselves unsure, we end up feeling like our own misgivings are being criticized by others because they can somehow sense that we are incompetent. The truth is, we don’t put off a specific vibe that says, “Warning! Incompetence alert!!” There is no red button that flashes, communicating to the world our inability to function. The discomfort often is in our own heads; it is something we do to ourselves with no actual evidence to back up our claims.
But we can change this. We can practice confidence. We can embrace the person we are on the inside by showing the world our authenticity – even if it doesn’t seem real in the beginning. Because, the more real we practice something, the more real that something becomes, and soon we realize we actually are our own confident selves, doing things publicly for the world to see. And it becomes comfortable, because we are living that truth about ourselves.
I don’t have a whole lot of childhood memories, but many of the ones I do have involve the fact that I was extremely shy as a child and into my adolescent years. I never knew how to start conversations and I definitely didn’t know how to maintain a conversation once it had begun. I wasn’t great with picking up on social cues in general, and this led to my being emotionally hurt a lot. I felt vulnerable all of the time, and I really wanted to live a more confident life. As I had a background in drama I decided to create my own confident character in the play that is my life. I actually wrote it all down; the personality she would have, what her strengths would be, and the successes she would ultimately have. Then, I went out and I practiced my lines in the real world.
Almost immediately, I found that I had more practical skills and was more confident than I ever thought I was. I used this new ‘attitude’ to get my degree in Psychology, and then I used it overseas in China for a semester. As my skills increased, so did my confidence. I learned what I wanted in my life and what I didn’t, and I kept what was valuable. As I qualified for better opportunities, I took them on, gaining even more skill. Currently, I am the most confident version of myself than I have ever been, and life just keeps getting better! I do still feel shy. I feel inauthentic at times. But, those times are the minority.
I think it is important to not place ourselves in the boxes society dictates for us. We are not who we are based on some limited assignment system – we are actually supposed to change. Through the understanding of who we want to become, and through the practice that it takes to get there, we can be versions of ourselves that we can each be proud of. It is also important to note that there isn’t just one way to do it; there are many correct paths to ‘enlightenment’. The key is to be creative in choosing the path that works for each of us – in my case it was utilizing my creativity through drama, but that is not the only way.
It can be really difficult to put oneself out there and invite vulnerability in but it can also be highly rewarding, because what comes with it are confidence, success, self-love, and connection with a world that up to this point was unknown. There is a certain satisfaction in the understanding that we cannot go back from this point – and we would probably not want to, because our confident selves are who we want to carry on – this is our legacy that we leave with the world, not our discomfort.