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Self-confidence is a complicated thing. They tell you that it’s called SELF-confidence for a reason, but it’s pretty tough to feel confident when there are other people/things/society constantly reminding you that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, rich enough, stylish enough, whatever enough.
And I’m done with all that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always struggled with my insecurities. I was the chubby girl for most of my life (HELLO, FOOD). Being Asian-American in a primarily NON-asian-american community has caused plenty of arguments/fights throughout my childhood. I’ve been told I wasn’t good enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or pretty enough to get jobs (yes, i’m serious).
It’s been a constant battle between my high’s and low’s – and I have unfortunately often let the low’s get the best of me most of the time. But that’s not fair – to myself, or anyone else in my life.
In just the past two months, I’ve moved out of my apartment (yes, AGAIN), have made no real “plan” for the future (other than booking a one-way ticket to Bali in February), have dealt with heartbreak thanks to someone who I really, really cared about leaving me when I needed him the most.
But you know what? Despite all of this, I have honestly never felt more beautiful or confident in my life. There are a few things I wanted to share with you on how I got to this place, and how (if you’re struggling with self-confidence) you can too.
1. Let go of people that are not positive influences in your life.
No one is perfect – people make mistakes – you make mistakes. And I’ve often felt like maybe because of my mistakes, I should be more forgiving of others’ mistakes as well. This is completely normal, but the problems start to arise when you start justifying people’s negative influences / actions by blaming yourself.
If you are not being treated with the love and respect you deserve, check your price tag. Perhaps you’ve marked yourself down. It’s you that determines your worth by what you accept from others. Get off the clearance rack and get behind that glass case where the valuables are kept. Value yourself, and accept nothing less.
It’s really hard to walk away from people, or cut people off – especially if you love them. But you have to recognize that they are negative influences in your life. Whether they cut you down, make you feel ugly or incapable, tell you you’re not good enough, or refuse to love you or be there for you the way you would for them – LET THEM GO. Tell yourself over and over again that you deserve better, and you’ll find the strength to walk away.
It may seem scary to be without that person, but there is something more wonderful waiting for you on the other side.
2. Write down what you’re grateful for.
This practice has been suggested / recommended / shared by some of the world’s most successful people (and experts in self-love, happiness, etc.). Writing down what you’re grateful for, will serve as reminders of how blessed we are, and shift our perspective to focusing on what we DO have, instead of constantly worrying about what we DON’T.
I used to complain about the cards I was dealt in life – why I didn’t come from a “rich” family – why my father had to die when I was so young – why I couldn’t have been born 5 inches taller, or 90% smarter/more talented. I was constantly comparing myself to people who I thought were better off than me because of X Y Z. When I started counting my blessings instead of my so-called disadvantages, I realized how blessed I truly was.
Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Some of the ‘happiest’ people have problems in their lives that you would never expect them to be dealing with.
So, what are you grateful for? Write these things down, as often as you can, and watch how it changes your perspective and your outlook on life. If anything, it’s an excuse to go buy a cute notebook. 🙂
3. Do, wear, try, anything that makes you feel beautiful.
Get dressed up and go out dancing with your friends. Put makeup on and do your hair. Try out that new lipstick you’ve been eyeing. Curl or straighten your hair just because.
It is absolutely amazing how much better I felt when I started putting effort into how I looked again – even if it were for one day. When you look good, you feel good.
I pulled out items in my closet I hadn’t worn in years – even bought a few decently-priced, flattering pieces that I felt I looked really good in. Beyonce sings about putting a freak’um dress on and going out with her friends. Sounds like a good idea to me.
One specific thing that helped a lot with my physical appearance / self-confidence was my hair. After struggling with alopecia for months (basically your body attacks your hair follicles because of stress or some unknown reason) – I had become pretty sensitive about my hair. I didn’t take care of it or worry about the health of it because I just wanted it to grow. Luckily, in the past year, the 6+ bald spots I had went away, but by avoiding the salon + bleaching my hair, my hair had been neglected and beyond damaged.
I had the opportunity to partner with Living Proof, where a few weeks ago – I visited a local salon in New York City to 1) get a trim, 2) learn about how to take better care of my hair, and 3) try out the new Living Proof Restore Collection. (READ: The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Healthier Hair)
I actually took the travel size kit of the Living Proof Restore Shampoo, Living Proof Restore Conditioner, and Living Proof Restore Mask with me to Costa Rica last week. Being in salt water twice or three times a day, every day for a week was NOT going to be good for my already-damaged hair, but this stuff really did help. And thanks to these awesome products, I can actually run my fingers through my hair again.
Living Proof was developed by MIT scientists – there’s an actual science to this stuff – and it absolutely shows when I compare the results to those of the other products I’ve been using. I am actually going to dish out the money to buy the full-size bottles because I love it so much.
The Living Proof Restore Collection might not be the best for you – it really depends on the type of hair you have, and your hair’s needs, but they do have a tool on their website that selects the best product for your hair type. You should try it out and take a look here.
My hair is the best it’s ever looked, and after a year of feeling self-conscious about it, I’m just grateful to have no more split ends, no more dry scalp, no more knotty, matted hair – and a newfound confidence.
4. Book a ticket somewhere and just GO.
I booked a ticket to Costa Rica by myself for a week. I saw a relatively cheap flight, had no real plans as to where I was staying, or where I would go when I got there, but I just did it.
I needed to get away. I needed a new place. I needed to meet new people. And getting away on a vacation/trip may not SOLVE your problems, but it will help you get to a place internally to change how you VIEW your problems.
I watched the sunrise over the beach, slept 5 hours in 2 days because I met a now-good friend, ate way too much rice and beans, surfed every single day and took time for myself again. I had one of my most amazing trips ever, and it was booked last minute.
Travel changes you, and it changes your perspective. (READ: 10 Ways Travel Changed My Life Forever)
If you’re going through something difficult – whether it’s heartbreak, work troubles, or just feel like you’re stuck in a rut, please do yourself a favor and book a trip to a place that you’ve never been before. And if you can’t find anyone to go with you, GO ALONE. It will help you build your self-confidence by forcing you to rely on yourself. You will be surprised at how many people you’ll meet, and how many friendships you’ll build. I met two women traveling solo when I was in Costa Rica within the first two days. (READ: 5 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Your Life)
If you’re thinking about it – Just. Do. It.
5. Laugh, a lot.
Laughter is healing – even when tears are streaming down your eyes – laughter heals. There’s someone in your life that can make you laugh while you’re crying. If it’s not your mom/dad, brother/sister, or best friend – it can be your favorite comedian.
I love watching comedy stand-up, silly TV shows or sitcoms, or actually going to comedy shows with friends. It’s a wonderful way to get yourself smiling.
Happiness is contagious – laughter, especially. When I was in Costa Rica, my newfound friend Trina and I laughed so hard that our abs hurt, and every single person who walked by us couldn’t help but start laughing themselves (there were about 10 people who walked by us). They had no idea why we were laughing (to be honest, I’m not sure we did either) – but they couldn’t help laughing at us laughing.
The more you laugh, the happier you’ll be, and the happier you are, the more happiness you’ll attract. Misery loves company, but so does happiness. You deserve to be happy for yourself, and you possess the power to get yourself there.
6. Discover a new passion, hobby, and work really, really hard at it.
I fell in love with surfing last summer – there was just something about it that drew me in. I loved being in the ocean, laying on my board, feeling the waves move underneath me. It was something that I knew I could practice and get better at – something I could dedicate myself to – that would be a positive influence on my health, my body, and my mind.
I booked my trip to Costa Rica to go surfing. I had heard that there was a robust surfing community there – did my research on where to go just a few days before I got there.
Do you have a hobby? If you do, make some time out of your schedule to practicing, and getting better at it. If you don’t have a passion or hobby – or aren’t sure what you want to do yet, try anything and everything because you’ll find what it is that you DON’T like – which will get you closer to finding out what it is that you do.
The feeling of accomplishment is like no other feeling in the world.
As soon as I stood up on that surfboard – once, twice – ten times – I knew that it was ME who got ME there. I knew that I was getting better, and that helped my confidence skyrocket. I didn’t need anyone else telling me that I wasn’t good enough – I knew I was getting better, and that’s all that mattered.
7. Put yourself first.
This is one that 100% helped me stop focusing on the sh-t going wrong in my life, and jump-started me on my track to self-love, self-acceptance and self-confidence.
Reinvest the energy you used to spend thinking about other people into YOURSELF.
I used to anticipate his needs, what he might like to eat, where he might like to go, what might make him happy – and I just didn’t have to do that anymore. I didn’t have anyone else to worry about but MYSELF. And instead of taking my precious time (life is short, c’mon guys) worrying about him and his needs – I started putting myself first.
What can I do with my time today, to make myself better? What can you do with your time and energy today, to make yourself stronger, smarter, more confident, more successful?
I threw myself into my work. I focused on what I could do with my time to network, write more articles, build more content, book more trips, try new restaurants, learn new recipes, rebrand my entire site – I took time to brainstorm new ideas for my dreams, set up new goals, get in touch with old friends, meet new ones, and get myself back to a place where I didn’t feel unloved, unworthy, unsuccessful, and ugly.
You must put yourself as your first priority. You have a power inside of you – a power that is unmatched – one that will heal you, inspire you and others. And that power can be tapped into by practicing on putting your happiness first.
In closing, I wanted to share a little quote that I found this past week and posted on my instagram – hopefully it will make you feel the same way about yourself as it made me feel about myself.
It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly because we don’t really see ourselves.
We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm.
We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing.
You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside of your heart.
There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you.
You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.
Thank you for reading, you beautiful person, you. And big thank you to Living Proof for inspiring me to explore my inner confidence, and for the inspiration to write this post.