Confidence = "I am (insert positive adjective)"
It took me 28 years to find confidence. Ok, not the entire 28 years of my life. Some of that was spent being a kid, where the world and its pressures that force us to question our self confidence is yet unknown. Now I can look back at my not quite three decades and actually say "I am pretty awesome."
I don't think my 15 year old self could have done that.
Finally, after all those years of teenage angst, the struggles to fit in, find myself, and love who I am, I do. I understand what it took to get there. It took life, stuff you can't rush.
All those years of grades, competing against classmates for higher scores and betwe projects. I'd fail at a test or struggle with a subject and start to doubt myself. Maybe I am not that smart? It was easy enough to believe at the time, especially when you're in kindergarten and having a hard time putting sentences together. Now, I've got two college degrees under my belt and a job I excel at. Sure, I get things wrong and may not understand or remember what certain lab values indicate or a medication is for, but that doesn't mean I'm not smart, just that I need to look up a few references. I've done plenty to prove my mental competence already.
The angst of relationships is a hard road to travel. Nothing is more arduous and potentially confident damaging than trying to prove yourself to the opposite sex. Do you look good? Smell good? Say the right thing? Sound interesting enough? The wondering details go on and on... Now, I'm married. Your lives mesh together and even when the answer to all those questions isn't yes it doesn't matter. You can be yourself, because you know what? Sometimes you aren't pretty or interesting, but you're still loved and the pressure to impress is gone.
Then there is the struggle to find what you are good at. It seems all of childhood you spend your time trying a million different hobbies, sports, and activities. Practicing, trying to be better, hoping to discover that underlying talent that makes you better than the rest. It doesn't come for everyone, but I was fortunate to stumble on mine in the form of a camera. Knowing where I am talented and can actually say "yes, I am GOOD at that" is overwhelmingly powerful.
|My photography - example of what I know I am good at.|
Finally, the biggest struggle of all, physical appearance. It is the biggest hurdle to overcome. In a society that stresses so significantly how important looks and body type are at any age to love your body is quite a feat. From the moment your familiar childhood body changes during puberty it seems your in a free-fall for lack of confidence. Everything is changing, suddenly being pretty and sexy matters. Have a baby and your confidence will be rocked to its core. Your body will revolt with stretch marks and cankles and hair that falls out after you birth a small person. Then, something magical happens. You lose the baby weight, you go back to your pre-pregnancy size, and suddenly you're capable of anything. You grew a person, fed a person, and morphed back into the former self you once were. After that nothing matters. Nothing can beat you down.
That's the ultimate vote of confidence.
So, at 28 I would like to think my 15 year old self would be proud. I can finally say I am proud of who I am and love who I am. I legitimately am awesome in many ways. It's a long journey to get here, but it couldn't have been accomplished any other way. Life just has to happen... life has to give you confidence.