Personal Empowerment (and Kicking Ass)

A Confident Stride

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

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9 thoughts on “Personal Empowerment (and Kicking Ass)”

  1. Good for you! I have dealt with those same feelings my whole life too and as I get older, it becomes easier, for me, to say no to things that I don’t want to do and say yes to things that I do want to do.  Getting out of my comfort zone and meeting online artist friends, in real life, has given me more confidence over the last 4 years. And it has given me more confidence in my creative self too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think age helps us distinguish between what is and isn’t important in life. Personally, I adore my 30s compared to my 20s for this reason. 

    Art is amazing in that way! It helped teach me who I am too. :)

  3. Great post!  I too have little confidence, but recently found it coming in small bursts and the feeling is rather odd, for me, and a bit exciting too.  This month was my first public event trying to sell my art.  I did very well (albeit mostly people who knew me were the folks to bought from me) and I received so many more compliments than I ever would have imagined.  I went into it totally blind, I didn’t really expect anything either way, and since most of what I make I like – I knew I wouldn’t be left with anything I wouldn’t be hanging on my walls.  I sold 15 pieces! I was shocked..  I even just completed three paintings for someone who asked me to do so after seeing (and buying) my work at the fair.  It’s very encouraging, and I find myself being more okay, being (dare I say it) proud of my work and feel good showing it off.  Although I have to admit bringing in those pieces today made me almost shake with anxiety (also giving me my normal response, a day long headache).  But she loved them (and will probably ask me to do more).  And I was so excited and made me feel more confident than I ever have.  This year has been full of stuff like this for me, and I hope 2012 and further will only continue on this path.  If I believe so, and work hard to make it so..

  4. I love this.  Confidence is something I lack as well and I’ve been pondering how successful people become successful.   I believe it is because they never say “I don’t feel like it.”  They just do it, no matter what.  Even if it’s baby steps, they are still working toward their goal. 

    It also surprises me to learn that some of our most successful people in society are also shy, they just do a fabulous job of getting beyond their shyness.

    The shyness I’ve struggled with has led to loneliness which has led to depression.  Today I can see how I’ve created this lonely path, but still struggle to take a different path now.  It is scary to even imagine myself leading a conversation or trying something daring.  I will keep trying, praying and working toward a more confident life.  I may take one step forward and two steps back but at least I’m trying.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. 

  5. Wow! Super congrats are in order! That’s wonderful news. Our art makes us very vulnerable, but it’s also the best way to express who we truly are. (Even if we’re unsure of ourselves!) It’s definitely going to be a great year for you! :)

  6. Even though I was shy as a child, I took up acting. In retrospect, I think it was a way for me to “pretend” like I wasn’t shy and learn the skills to fake being a confident person. It helped.

    You’re already on the right path, and each step is forward motion. Confidence grows the more we latch onto it. (Or at least that’s what I hope for myself too!) ♥

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