Like most people, I've struggled with confidence over the years. As a kid, I was nervous about everything, ranging from the insignificant (slumber parties) to doomsday scenarios (kidnappings/fires/earthquakes). My teenage years were plagued with awkwardness, which carried over into my 20s. Throughout most of this time, I felt alone, like I was the only one who struggled with self doubt. It was only until later that I realized that everyone deals with insecurity to some degree.
Since I entered my 30s, I'm more self-assured, mellow and content. Part of that comes with age and maturity, but it's also wrapped up in several practices I've picked up over the years. Here are eight tips that have helped me become more confident.
1. Diet. When I first began working at Condé Nast, there was an abundance of delicious treats being sent to the offices on a regular basis. I overindulged (I didn't need to celebrate everyone's birthday), until I eventually came up with a plan to avoid all the temptation. I vowed not to have dessert during the week. This worked for a while, until it became clear that all I ever thought about were sweets. I don't believe in deprivation, but rather eating everything in moderation. I've never done a bona fide "diet," per se, but my new motto is simple: when I'm craving something, I have it. I find that when I take out the notion of something being off limits, I don't crave it as fervently.
2. Schedule. Creating a routine provides a sense of control that is very comforting and when I stick to a semi-loose schedule each week, I'm happiest. For me, that entails at least two plans with girlfriends, a date night with my husband and some time by myself. It leaves room for plenty of other things, but it ensures that each week has a good variety and feels nicely balanced.
3. Give yourself a break. I'm a perfectionist, which I've come to realize is completely exhausting. I used to beat myself up over the littlest things, but I've learned to give myself a break. I've realized that all of those moments add up to create a much more stressful life. So now I ask myself whether or not something will still feel significant in a year. I've never said 'yes,' which gives me more confidence in my decision making process.
4. How to say 'no.' For years, I was an over-scheduler. Part of it stemmed from the fact that I had no friends when I moved to L.A., and felt like I could never turn down an opportunity to get out and meet people. But long after I made friends, there was an unspoken pressure to always be the girl who was up for anything. I've since come to realize that it's okay to say "no." It takes a certain level of confidence to decline an invitation and understand that such a choice won't have any lasting impact. Randomly enough, I've found that the times when I've opted for a different plan - like staying in on a Friday night instead of meeting friends at a bar, have been the most rewarding because I've paid attention to what I actually wanted to do instead of what I thought I should do.
5. Be present. I'm guilty when it comes to being a bit too dependent on my phone. I claim that social media and responding to emails in a timely manner are integral to my job (which are true, to an extent), but that doesn't require me to be glued to a device. When I'm with friends or even casually lying in bed with my husband, I try not to pick up my phone, instead focusing on being present. There's nothing worse than sharing a story with someone only to realize their silence stems from their lack of attention. Focusing on the present provides a level of comfort in my surroundings that alleviates the anxiety of constantly being engaged with less important activities.
6. Find your passion. This blog started out of passion when I found myself bogged down from a career that left me uninspired. And though I was able to parlay that into a full-time job, finding something you love is integral to feeling fulfilled. I constantly try out new things, hoping to find something I love. Sometimes they work (photography, baking, reading) and other times they don't (the handwriting course I just took). But the point is to always push yourself to try new things, since you never know what will turn into something really meaningful.
7. Dress the part. Fashion plays an important role in looking good which, in turn, makes you feel good. But a big part of feeling your best has to do with knowing what works for you. Up until recently, I was almost stubborn about forcing certain styles to work on my body. I love a billowy dress and a good chunky turtleneck. Unfortunately those specific styles simply aren't flattering on my figure. A lot of this comes down to acceptance and once I did that, I stopped trying things that weren't quite right for me, instead focusing on things that do.
8. Surround yourself with good friends. We've all had friends that are less than stellar: girls who make you feel insecure, don't make time for you or simply don't support you the way they should. There's no time for that. I truly feel like the people in my life now are some of the best people I've ever met and there's a mutual love and respect present that I never question.
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