Finding Yourself: A Personal Narrative of Self Confidence

Life is a journey, and each of us is running our own race—a race filled with triumphs, challenges and self-discovery. Yet, as we navigate along our individual winding and weaving paths, it’s not uncommon to look around and perceive that everyone else seems to be miles ahead, exuding an unwavering confidence that we ourselves might find elusive. Thinking about myself, I recall so many times, looking at people who I had self-proclaimed to be “successful”, and long to be “like” them, “if only I could look like them, sound like them or have what they’ve got”, rather than embracing who I am and the unique tapestry of strengths and vulnerabilities that make us who we are. Research from the National Confidence Index’s 2023 survey reveal a fascinating trend in confidence levels across age groups. The data illustrates that individuals in their teens and early twenties reported a confidence level of 45%, whereas those in their thirties and beyond exhibited a substantial increase, boasting a confidence level of 68%+. Interesting eh!? These statistics underline the dynamic nature of confidence, with age playing a pivotal role in shaping one’s self-assurance. If I overlay this to my life, this data aligns 100% to my own personal confidence. I often say that as I have aged, I have grown into myself, becoming happy and confident in who I am and belief in my choices and decisions. The aging process really does allow for self-discovery and a deeper understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses. Life experiences, both positive and negative, contribute to the development of resilience and a more robust sense of self. As we age, we become less swayed by the opinions of others and more focused on embracing our authenticity. We tend to be less concerned about fitting in or being liked, and more occupied with getting to bed before 10pm and getting a good lie-in in the morning, or whether to go for the Brooklyn matt emulsion or the Melville silk for the lounge. No longer am I going to places that I do not want to go to, just because everyone else goes there. I’m not drinking a drink that I don’t like because everyone else does. In fact, in the nicest possible way, I don’t care if you like me or not, I’m me and right now I’m cool with that. As someone who has personally battled with confidence issues, I understand the impact of feeling marginalised. Being a victim of bullying, dismissed by teachers, desperate to fit in, be liked and facing the limitations both society and I placed on myself for a long time have left lasting scars. These experiences made me believe that I had no future and that being myself was a hindrance rather than an asset. Being me just wasn’t good enough. It was almost like by putting on an act and being more like “others”, I had a safety net. Meaning that if I wasn’t liked or didn’t connect with someone whilst I was wearing this mask, I’d tell myself it didn’t matter as that wasn’t really me. Or at least looking back now that’s how I would best describe it. It seems silly now, but at the time it was my way of masking who I was and that got me by. It feels somewhat ironic that at a time in our lives when we are making arguably some big decisions about our futures, we are at our lowest in terms of self-confidence. On one hand we are encouraged to forge our own path, decide what’s next, go get em’ and the world is your oyster! Yet internally we doubt ourselves and look for acceptance from others to feel valued and respected. But what do the experts say? Renowned psychologist and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck talks of the importance of adopting a growth mindset to cultivate self-belief over time. “Embrace the power of ‘yet.’ The mindset that success is a journey, not a destination, allows for the development of self-belief over time.” Researcher, storyteller and author of “The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown encourages us to embrace vulnerability as a source of strength, fostering genuine self-belief. “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. That fosters real self-belief.” Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins advocates for a solutions-focused mindset, urging individuals to concentrate on what they can control to build self-belief. “Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. Building self-belief involves focusing on what you can control and taking positive action.” Quotes like these make such sense now, but would they have done thirty years ago? I’m not sure, I doubt I’d even have picked up a book in the first place! So, before I tell you what advice I would give my younger self, I must tell you that moments like these bring to mind the dulcet tones of Kat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) in 1970, or more my era, the 1995 cover by Ronan Keating and Boyzone singing the hit “Father & Son”. The song is like a musical heart-to-heart about a father and his son (hence the name). The dad’s saying, “Hey, learn from my blunders, and life will treat you better.” But the son’s all about doing things his own way, finding himself and living life on his own terms. For me, it’s lyrics capture the real feels of growing up, family dynamics and figuring out who you are. I think it’s a timeless story that hits you right in the guts, and would not at all be surprised if parents in one hundred years are thinking the same.  Anyway, back to my tips for cultivating self-belief! Acknowledge Your Strengths: Make a list of your achievements, skills and positive qualities. Reflect on them regularly to reinforce a positive self-image. Set Realistic Goals: Break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable steps