I have always had low confidence in myself period. It doesn’t matter which area of life we are talking about from my appearance to my talents low confidence seems to be the trademark. Do I want this? If a person was to describe me, what would they say? In the past, especially with my talents, I would manage to turn a compliment into self- induced pressure. I would stress about living up to that compliment next time.
During my childhood I had more confidence in comparison to my teen years. In primary school I participated in the district schools cross country where I would come last by quite a lot except one year I came second last when a girl sprained her ankle yet still finished. Every year I competed everyone would stop what they were doing to cheer me across the finish line; I ran faster at their encouragement.
Late primary my confidence started on a downward slippery slope that only accelerated as I got into my teen years. In Letting Go I wrote: the bullies each managed with great success to erode my confidence and self – worth. The primary school bully ruled the social scene dictating who would be in the ‘in’ group by getting the potential new members to sing a song (as a way of discouraging people from joining). I tried but I am certainly not the next Adele let alone being able to sing in tune. What can I say? Singing just isn’t one of my gifts. Needless to say I was not welcomed into the group. Being a small, country primary school there were not many kids and a lot of my friends were in this group. In high school a staff member was the bully from laughing at me when I got homework to being critical about me biting my nails, little maybe, but constant.
Through those experiences I subconsciously built a wall around myself not wanting to be open to vulnerability; some people did manage to become my friends through that time in my life but they first had to scale the huge wall allowing me to trust them. Much of the time my friends got a filtered version of myself. I was scared that if I shared my real self the friendship would be over and I was much too insecure to allow that to happen. Truth be told it wasn’t just the bullying that lead to the greater loss in confidence. My body changed a lot while I was a teenager (like everyone) but I hated the changes, mainly the weight gain and acne; but I also hated the events that had shaped me and the things I couldn’t change like Cerebral Palsy. I wanted to fit in. But I only saw all the things that made me stand out. I couldn’t brush it off as easily as I did when I was a child (even then it still hurt).
It took until I started university that I made the conscious choice to find more confidence. Fake it ‘til you make it if you will. I was done having regrets over my character namely my confidence. I was done simply admiring other people’s confidence. It became a little, and I mean little, easier during university as I made more friends. But it was after university when I discovered I was truly loved by Jesus. With Jesus’ help I began for the first time to truly love me and to believe others when they said they loved me; rather than internally saying really? While knowing I am truly loved has helped to develop my confidence in many areas, such as my appearance, there was still a gaping hole in my confidence; that being with my talents and skills.
Many reasons contributed to my decision to withdraw from a Bachelor of Commerce. One of them was the realisation that even when I finished the degree I would still lack confidence to complete everything the degree said I could do. The piece of paper could give me a lot of things but it couldn’t give me confidence. I get frustrated with myself over having a weakened characteristic I admire in others but that doesn’t produce the desired characteristic; it only increases the disappointment in myself. I did say weakened; I am taking steps to strengthen my confidence.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
How? Through volunteering. I get to use my skills and talents without the weight of expectation. During my interview I was taken aback by how interested they were in having me help out – I didn’t even have to beg. My supervisor is lovely; she has complete confidence in my skills and gives me tasks to do, that are not only helpful for everyone, but also uses my skills. Jesus knew I needed a supervisor like her. I find Jesus places people in your life when you need them the most. During university I had a lecturer that would inspire confidence as she explained the assessment to the class. I was less daunted and more excited to see where my ideas and creativity would go. This lecturer’s positive impact flowed into my other classes.
I don’t think my confidence will ever grow to epic proportions and I will still struggle with self-confidence because a) I have flaws like we all do and b) I have had low confidence for so long it is easy to slip into old habits. But I will give it a go.