Key to Confidence - A lesson from my personal experience!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word confident?
 
Is it a macho muscular man, who is not afraid to face anything, is ready to speak whatever comes to their mind, or even be prepared to fight any time? If so, then I want you to picture Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Anne Frank.
 
I think we would all agree that these are some amazingly confident and strong people. Now that doesn't mean that they were perfect. It doesn't mean that they never felt fear, or had any doubts, or even insecurities. It simply means that they didn't let these insecurities hold them back.
 
In this article, I want to challenge what we believe confidence looks like, and the idea that confident people don't have fears or insecurities. Because the truth is that even the most confident people in the world still get afraid. They still doubt their decisions and even their abilities. They just deal with them a little differently. 
 
Let me share an example from my own life - my aha moment when it comes to confidence.
 
You see, I was a shy kid growing up partly, because of my severe anxiety and partly because of the low confidence, I developed from years of bullying.
 
But during my freshman year of college, there was an open state level debate competition. Now I never imagined getting up on that stage in front of hundreds of people in the first place, let alone for a debate competition. But I also wanted to impress this girl who was later going to be my first girlfriend. That motivation to impress her was enough for the teenage me to find just enough courage to not let my fear hold me back. I didn't expect to win, but I was ready to give it my best and not run away from my fear.
 
That was my way of showing courage and push back on years of messages and anxiety, that I  had internalized, to calm the voice of my self-doubts within me. That day, I got on that stage, and to everyone's surprise, including my own, I won. And not just one round, but all of them, and landed a gold medal. That was the first time I realized my strength in articulating my thoughts and gift for public speaking - A talent that was within me, but I never even realized it.

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.
Peter T. Mcintyre
But there was something else that I also realized that day. Something that was even more profound - that it wasn't my win that helped me look differently at myself, but rather the realization that I could succeed despite being afraid. I was scared the whole time. My anxious thoughts were screaming at me. I was worried about how my bullies would react to me fumbling on that stage. But most of all, I was afraid to look like a fool in front of the girl that I wanted to impress.
 
But because that day I did let my insecurities hold me back, I took my first step towards confidence. And I wish I could say I never looked back after that day or never doubted myself again. But that's definitely not what happened. Even after that, there were many moments when I felt scared and had doubts. And while I occasionally stumbled upon some steps. I didn't stop and that's the key to confidence - that you don't have to be fearless.
You just have to feel the fear, but keep going.
 
None of us start out with fear in our minds or doubts about our place in the world. We all start fearlessly. If you want to know what I mean, look at babies. A baby doesn't care about looking stupid when they are trying to learn how to walk. They don't care about falling when jumping. They just keep doing it, and enjoy the process until they get good at it. But somewhere between those confident beginnings and your current self, you start to care about what others think of you - 
 
that somehow your worth and value are dependent on others approval and appreciation. At some point in our lives, we learn from others around us to care more about what others think of us
 
than what we think of ourselves. But just because someone chooses coal over a diamond doesn't mean that the diamond is worthless. It's still a diamond that will be enjoyed and appreciated by the right person. So stop defining your worth based on others perspectives. Stop basing your confidence on others approval. Recognize your own abilities, and despite all the fears and doubts, keep working on them until you start to believe in yourself.

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