Confidence is not something we are born with. It is something gained. Confidence is something we breathe in and let settle within us. It is something that we have to have faith in and constantly tend to… And confidence can be fragile, sensitive, and unsteady. If we let it.

I am the first to admit that I have let my confidence become something that can be shattered by the slighted amount of pressure. I let the words and actions of other people obliterate the bit of confident I scraped up. I remember clearly the times people called me a cry baby, made fun of me because I talk fast and mumble, called me “the ugly twin”, overlooked me while giving compliments to my best friend when we went out together, rolled their eyes and joked about my instability when I became depressed, commented on the way I walk with my head down and eyes averted, called me “Squidward” before I grew into my nose.

I also let the expectations of society suck away my confidence. I take in the admiration of women with full figures, long hair, and out-going personalities. I notice the praise that people my age get when they have a big bank account, are in relationships and have children, have a higher education, and are overall independent, fully capable, put-together adults.

In these moments of reflection, when I remember the things about me that made people laugh and think less of me, and the ways in which I have not yet the level of successful that society emphasizes, my confidence shrinks into non-existence. And I know that I am not the only one.

…But…

Then I think about the people who have “made it” is the eyes of our world. The people who are financially stable. Who have the marriage, children and white picket fence. Who are well-educated with a thriving career. Who are outspoken. Who fits the mold of the typical attractive female or male. And yet, many of them are still completely void of confidence. This made me realize that confidence is NOT something that is given to us by the approval and acceptance of others. Instead, CONFIDENCE IS BIRTHED BY THE ACCEPTANCE OF ONESELF. No one has the right to determine the confidence of someone else. Society does not have the right to solidify our perception of what is personally acceptable.

So, I will embrace my mumbling, slouchy, and emotional self. I won’t be ashamed of still living at home and having a slim bank account. I will take pride in my awkward social skills and preferring binge-watching Frasier and A Different World on a Saturday night. I choose not to let my confidence remain fragile, sensitive, and unsteady. I choose to no longer gain confidence only to allow it to be ripped away. We should all fight to have faith in our confidence, in ourselves, no matter how hard it can be.

What will you start to embrace in your life to birth and nurture your confidence?

 

We all have habitual characteristics that others identify us with. Some people only wear a certain color. There are people who have a unique laugh that can only be theirs. For me, I have a habit of saying “sorry”… even when I am not sorry. If I am asking a question to someone, I start of with “I’m sorry but…”. If someone is doing a favor for me, I say “sorry” instead of “thank you”. Even when I am sorry, my apologies are always exaggerated: “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean to do that. What can I do to fix it? Are you sure we’re good?”. Just call me “Sorry Not Sorry…Maybe”.

I’ve had the habit for years now, and I never thought to dig deep and figure out why I overuse the word “sorry”. Until now. I realized that my apologies come from GUILT…guilt that I feel and internalize. Guilt that I accept not as a mistake or a lesson learned, but as a wicked part of who I am.

Let me take you back: Years ago, my sister, cousins and I were obsessed with our PlayStation… Spyro the Dragon was in our top three favorite games. One day, I was playing Spyro at my grandma’s house in my cousins room, on the top bunk bed. I was so into the game that when Spyro rolled on the ground, I rolled too… right off the bed, cutting my chin on the way down. The incident left a dark scar under my chin, and to this day whenever I look in the mirror and see that scar I remember playing Spyro, rolling off the bed, and the laughter and jokes from my sister and cousins so clearly!

GUILT can be like that also…it can suddenly flood your mind with an overwhelmingly gut-wrenching, paralyzing, shameful feeling with just the slightest trigger. The mention of a name. A fragrance. A familiar-looking car passing by on the highway. A Facebook update from a person you hurt. At its worse, guilt can show up and show out. It can take away your sense of self-worth. For me, guilt is the type of presence that convinced me that I do not deserve to be happy, successful, satisfied…FORGIVEN. Guilt has been my Life-Snatcher, the root to my “Sorry Not Sorry…Maybe”.

I prayed about it, wrote multiple pages in my journal about it, vented to my mother about it, spent sessions on it. In the end, I found that my mistakes, my guilt, does not define who I am.

“Guilt isn’t always a rational thing…guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not”

-Maureen Johnson

As humans, we all make choices that were not right. We all did something that caused someone else to hurt or suffer. We all felt the ugly presence of guilt. And this is O.K. The trick with guilt is to see it, accept it, and use it as a chance to become better. Another trick I learned about guilt is to try to consciously understand that your guilt may be irrational… because while you live in your guilt, swimming in negativity, the people who were effected by you has forgiven you and moved on, void of the heavy burden of guilt and shame.  The Scripture said it best:

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you”

-Proverbs 4:25

This is what I strive to tell myself daily: Try not to look back at your guilt. Look ahead, leave the heavy burden of guilt behind, and take the light package of life lessons with you on your journey to being your best self!

When you think of the term “warrior”, what pops into your mind? Soldiers going into battle? Protesters fighting for an important social cause? Women who take on the role of motherhood? Those examples are what I always associated with being a warrior…until recently.

For the past ten years, I have suffered from depression and anxiety. I would be consumed with sadness, anger, and shame all at once. Every ounce of confidence I ever had evaporated. Life did not matter anymore because all I did was live in pain. Still, life went on… I had to be an adult and get an education, find a decent job so that I can manage my responsibilities. That is what life boiled down to: managing. The sadness, anger, shame, and overall pain was still there, I did not know how to shake it, but I had to keep going… and I did. But of course, when you hold toxic thoughts and feelings inside for so long, life eventually explodes. For me, life exploded too many times to count, leading to hospital stays, outpatient treatments, consistent therapy, medicine…

But sometimes it takes just one amazing, eye-opening, earth-shattering experience to make the shift from “managing” to “progressing”. My experience came in a form of a book: “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton. Because that is when I realized that just like soldiers at war and mothers, I AM A WARRIOR:

“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth”. Page 203

With that one passage, everything clicked. It was normal to feel pain, it was normal to be effected by the World. The trick was to actually face the pain, accept it, and let it be my motivation. So I did it: I thought about all of the hurt, insecurities, and anger that’s been weighing me down. I cried. I decided to move on… to no longer be stuck sitting in the toxic waste I’ve accumulated for ten years. And I smiled. Because I am a warrior… I showed bravery and strength as I took on the thoughts and feelings that held me prisoner for so long. Although I am still fighting, I am not giving up. Warriors never give up!

To keep my Warrior Status in tact, I do a few things that sustains my bravery and strength against my toxic enemies:

  • PRAY
  • Read scripture
  • Journal
  • Positive self talk
  • Eliminate any source of negativity (yes, friends included!)

What do you to to maintain your Warrior Status?