A couple of years ago, as I approached a new decade, I decided that I was no longer going to be bashful in my 30s. To me this meant developing the strength I knew was there, and blossoming into the perpetual self-confidence I felt I deserved but never embraced. Why shouldn’t I? I was young, healthy, smart. I had good ideas, and with a little hard work, a great future.
Suffice it to say, now in my 30s, this is still an ongoing struggle.
So what’s the problem? What I didn’t know in my 20s is that being confident is a verb, an action. It’s not a feeling that floats around inside you. Doing the things of a confident person is what makes you confident. You have to do first, feel later. You cannot sit around waiting for confidence to find you, or blame the lack of it on your inability to accomplish tasks. The years continue on around us regardless of whether or not we feel confident enough to participate. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
From a basic level, it starts with self-respect. You have to respect yourself enough to care for your own person, your own life. Self-respect means you eat properly, stay fit and healthy, get enough sleep so you can function the next day, clean your space so that you can live and work, and work at something that gives your day a purpose greater than watching television. You do all this because you respect yourself.
Personally, I feel more confident when I wear clothes I like and spruce myself up a bit. But usually I don’t, because I work at home, and I have to wear clothes I’m willing to splatter paint on, and why waste make-up or hair products if my day consists of writing, painting, and running to the post-office? There have been a curious number of times in which I didn’t answer the door to the UPS man because I wasn’t wearing pants. I could stand a bit more effort than falling out of bed and onto a canvas each morning. I know this because by the end of the day, I begin to feel messy and unkempt and self-conscious. Not a coincidence.
Three and a half months ago I joined a Krav Maga class (it’s like street-fighting), which is something I’ve been putting off since I was about 16. That’s half my life. I’ve always wanted to know, deep down, that I could protect myself and kick a little ass if ever I needed to. I’ve never been very athletic. And fighting is hard. Very hard. I have bruises up and down my arms. Last week I came home with a phew-that-could-have-been-worse scratch on my eyelid. During my third class, a guy’s nose was broken. Almost always, I am either the only girl in class, or one of maybe two or three. Tops.
And I freaking love it.
And now I do feel more confident. I am, truly, in all ways, stronger. I was hesitant to go in the first place, and I still drum up anxiety before each class. But I force myself because I know that the feeling of power and confidence I leave with is absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. It’s the action that comes first. A hesitant person makes a confident action and then feels confident. I can’t believe I waited so long.
It’s a lesson I could do with applying to other aspects of my life. I often shy away from taking action because I don’t feel confident enough to do so. That’s backwards. If I string enough confident actions together in a row, wouldn’t that automatically make me a confident person?
Those who are truly empowered don’t wait. They just are. I’m envious, to be sure, but not for long. I’m catching up.
—-It’s almost a new year! Let’s make it a confident one. Is there anything in your life that makes you feel more confident? I’d love to hear your stories.
–Written by Shayla Maddox for Art & Musings