May 22, 2011

DIY Confidence

            If you know me, you know I love a good Do It Yourself project… I want to alter/change and Get Scatty on everything that comes my way…. Even when I don’t know how, or have the necessary tools.  I’m classic at figuring out how to get what I want with what I have, so this post will not surprise you, what you will find different is that I do not have how-to photos along the way… and that instead of talking about a lamp, I’m talking about me. (I don’t get personal often as you have seen.)

            So… Do It Yourself Confidence.  You are no doubt thinking… “Ya, if I could just do it myself then I would have done it a long time ago!  Confidence isn’t just as easy as a decision! Cause I’ve decided I want to be happy with myself, but I don’t know how to make it happen.”

            Well the reason I’m writing this is because…  for me, it started with a decision. No, wait, back up, it started with a question… which led to a decision… I’ll elaborate.

            Growing up I struggled with my self-esteem.  I always said “I don’t like me”.  I was not happy with my appearance, and I let it mean everything. I let it be who I was.
            As a senior in high school, a friend asked me to name 1 thing I liked about myself, and I said “My earrings”.  This friend was beautiful, and I was plain.  This friend had perfect hair, while mine was stubborn.  I couldn’t think of anything I liked about me that even came close to what I wanted to look like… which I could easily say was to look like her.

            One day in my mid twenties I sat down alone in my room, and took a long hard look at how I saw ME. I remember the blue wall I stared at, where I sat, and the memory of it is as vivid as one when you hear historical news… like the death of Princess Diana or Michael Jackson… I remember where I was for both of those realizations.  For me, this monumental moment in my room is even more vivid because something more than a memory was created in that room that day.

            I sat on the edge of the bed and asked “What is the difference between me and someone with confidence? Is it all beautiful looks? Is it all down to the face you’ve got?  Do you have to be born beautiful to like yourself?  Do you have to be perfect?”

            My thought went to an attractive man with slightly long but tidy hair in a crisp white shirt and black slacks. His hair and skin both kissed by the sun and I said…. He has no idea what it’s like to live without confidence, he has to like himself… It’s inevitable.  I am not like that man, he has the fortune of perfection without the worries that come along with being a GIRL… (I won’t elaborate, but the thought centered on make-up, nail polish, hairspray, and beauty accessories we girls insist we need. -I would not be seen in public without make-up even if it killed me.) But I kept that image of that man in my mind and I insisted there had to be more…. If it wasn’t only his looks, what would it be? What makes him like himself?

            And I heard from some smart-aleck inside my head; “He likes WHO he is”. And then I suddenly wondered, “Can anyone like WHO they are”? This was possibly the first time I asked questions and listened for answers, rather than giving myself the answers, and I heard “YES!”

“How”?! I demanded?
“What do you like in general…” it said.
“What, you mean like foods and colors and hobbies?”
“Yes… like those”.
“Well I like blue, I like mushrooms, I like to paint, I like taking pictures, I like cheesecake”, and I made myself a mental list like this. Then I heard:
“Would you change those about yourself”?
“No, they are my likes, and I like my likes.”
“Alright, so while we are not talking about appearance, tell me what you don’t like about yourself”.
I did not have to think on this one since there were some large things in my life that I was not happy with, and then I heard;
“So change ‘em.”
            When you have no self esteem, deciding to make a big change is a million times easier said than done.  But the voice insisted… “That is CHANGEABLE”. And for the first time possibly ever, I realized I actually wanted to change these things, and that it boiled down to a decision. To choose to make a change would mean that I would have LESS on my Don’t Like list, and would put MORE on my Do Like list. That thought was one of my biggest light bulb moments in my life. I could change something, and it would no longer be a reason to not like myself, but could become a reason I did like myself.  The brightness of that bulb cannot be described. I suddenly had the right to do and say.  I was worthy of an opinion and an action.  I was good enough to do what I wanted and one day… I could have confidence too!!!

            The difference between me and that sun kissed guy is that he has a healthy self esteem…Irrespective of looks. If I only had qualities, talents, interests, etc that I LIKED… I too could like WHO I was.  And Who we are, is Who we are… a pretty big deal actually. I am not my skin, I am not my hair, I am not the clothes I wear, nor the body I’m in. Do I still want to be pretty? Of coarse I do, I would not be human if I wanted to be ugly. But that is not what life is about. I have to live with me, with my decisions, my favorite colors, my talents and hobbies, my taste in music, my loves and my lessons.

            For three years I put my theory into practice, all the while growing better and better at showing my confidence to others and myself.  I made changes, some of the big ones were only changing slowly, but I was doing it. Then I met the man of my dreams who has taught me even more.  He is a great example of what I’ve been trying to teach myself.
            This man has never wanted to look or be like anyone else.  He is happy with who he is, and wouldn’t change anything about his appearance if he could.  He is confidence without arrogance.  Meeting him was enlightening for me.  Although I had already given myself permission to like me, I now had a living example of somebody that did wholly like himself, and always had.  The way he sees the world is very different from the way most people do, because he doesn’t know what it is like not to have a self esteem.  His point of view has rubbed of onto me, and I can now see how pointless it is to have self hate.  There are no reasons good enough to continue on the path of not liking yourself. 
            What do you gain from worrying about how others see you and what they think?  Does it make you rich?  Does it make you happy?  Does it do anything positive for you?  No, it doesn’t.  Therefore you have no reason to worry about how others see you.  It matters not.

Here’s a thought:
            Who do you need to like you?  Who do you want to think you’re wonderful?  Do you need to impress Steven, J-Lo, & Randy?  Have you got to be a good enough cook for Gordon Ramsey to eat at your table? 
            No, that’s ridiculous.  And yet we often act like, the thing stopping us from having confidence is what others think of us, and ‘others’ aren’t even important people.  The so called important people aren’t even important people.
            On the scale of important people, 1 being the most important, 10 being the least, this is how you need to see it.  You 1, Other half 2, Children , Family 4, Friends 5 or 6, Gordon Ramsey 10, Strangers 10.
            The important people are: you, your loved one and your children.  This is who you need to like you.  But most importantly you.

            I have a friend; we will call her Bo.  Bo is the same age as me, so she will be my example.  Bo has no self esteem.  She thinks she’s fat.  She hates her naturally curly hair that I would die for.  She thinks she has too many moles.  She hates and worries about these nearly invisible wrinkles around her eyes.  She hates the blue veins that she has found on her temples...  she could go on all day, so I will stop with these. 
            I have tried to tell Bo about the things I have said here, so she can like herself, but Bo has 101 physical reasons why she can’t like herself.  (I will interrupt here to tell you that Bo’s mother has never made her feel like she is good enough.  Her mother is always finding fault.  “You’re too thin, you’re too fat, you’re too this, you’re too that…”  30+ years of your mother finding fault will make it hard to find a self esteem.  But not impossible.  It’s about a decision.)  These physical reasons are huge to Bo.  She sees seemingly thousands of wrinkles and moles.  I see little to none.  She sees a fat girl.  I see a lovely person.  She sees ugly little bits of curl ruining her hairstyle.   I don’t see anything but nice hair I would like to have.  Bo gives strangers the ‘important scale’ of 1.  She gives me; her friend, the ‘important scale’ of 9, and gives herself the ‘important scale’ of 10.  Her mean mother gets the ‘important scale’ of 1 also.
            Bo spends her time giving strangers’ opinions such importance, she is overwhelmed by it.  There are strangers everywhere you go.  She is constantly worrying about her appearance to them.  And do you think they give a flying fig what she looks like?  She worries they do.  We all tend to worry what others think of our appearance, and yet nobody is worrying about what others look like; just themselves.  This is reality.  You may be the center of your universe, but you aren’t the center of everyone else’s.
            It is because of Bo that I have stopped caring so much if my hair or make up isn’t just so.  Nobody knows but me.  If the person I want most in the world to find me attractive thinks my hair or make-up needs fixing, then I listen.  If he doesn’t, then I don’t really need to care about that rogue hair.  I’m impressing the person I intend to impress.  Bugger the strangers.

            Something else you will find has changed in your attitude once you begin to grow confident:  Fears stop being fears; they become dislikes.  What is there to be afraid of?
Needles, Spiders, Dentists… all things I used to hate and didn’t want near me.
            By deciding that I liked myself and giving myself a chance at confidence, suddenly nothing was a big deal, what are they going to do to me really?  Going to the dentist is just something that needs to be done and is uncomfortable; it’s nothing that’s going to ruin me.  All these fears became dislikes, and when you dislike something, you can tolerate it if you have to.  When you are afraid of something, you avoid it like the plague.  Eventually nothing is like the plague.  You end up asking yourself why should I feel nervous, upset, uncomfortable or afraid?  And you will answer yourself with:  I shouldn’t.  I don’t need to.
            Look at who you are; how do you see yourself?  Are there things you don’t like?  Change them.  Bar plastic surgery, change it.  If you don’t like that you smoke; quit.  Don’t like that you keep an untidy house; clean it up.  Don’t like that you shout at your children; stop it!
Then ask yourself, Do I like me?  Not your neighbor, not your spouse, not your children, just you.  Do YOU like you?
            Once you answer yes to the question ‘Do I like myself’, that’s it.  What confidence all comes down to is a decision.  The decision you like who you are.  You are the most important person that needs to like you.  That is self-esteem.  If you can decide I like Me, you have given yourself permission to become confident.  You can’t say automatically, that’s it-I’m confident now, but you then allow yourself to do things that confident people do.  You prove to yourself you are confident; because you have a self esteem, you can now do anything.  From this point you can suddenly do all kinds of stuff.  Wear the clothes you like, have the hair you like, live the life you like, go and do it all with confidence.

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Melody said...

You are AMAZING!!! Thanks for the confidence booster!!

Operation Shine America said...

Thank you for sharing this! :)

K said...

so true! about 30 years ago i remember reading articles on boosting self-confidence. wish i'd seen your piece then! yay, you! ...and me!

Andrea Amu said...

You have given a lot to ponder... and now I feel as though I've just been through a session of therapy, lol!

Gotta luv ya, Natty!