My journey with confidence
I was not confident growing up. On the contrary, I picked on myself a lot. This allowed others to also pick on me. I grew up in a society where colored eyes were favored. It was considered a sign of intelligence if a kid was an extrovert. I was an introvert, and my eyes were not blue or green. As a Kindergartener, my appearance really bothered me. I often complained to my mother,
“Why are my eyes not blue or green?”
“My teacher would like me more if my hair was blonde or if my eyes were lighter.”
I did not appreciate myself, and this caused me great pain growing up.
My low self-esteem meant I was bullied by others. It is amazing how quickly people can sense a lack of confidence, and how easily they can jump on someone who does not love themselves. A lot of it was my fault. I was no longer comfortable with being alone, because that meant being lonely, and all I wanted was true friends and good conversations. So I sought appreciation and value through friends. If they devalued me, it would burn a hole in my heart. When a friendship ended, it took a long time for me to heal. I relied on the few close friends I had more than I should have. It was not about the quantity of friends I had, because I was quite alright with having only one to two close friends. What mattered to me was that they were there. Being put down hurt me severely, and if I found that my best friend had let me down, I would become very upset and take it to heart.
My only escape was through reading or writing. As long as I had a book with me, it did not matter if people accompanied me in life or not. Through reading, the characters became my friends. The Giver was my favorite book, because it was similar to how I viewed the world. I would spend hours re-reading it. The main character, Jonas, became someone who I felt I knew. His struggle with being misunderstood spoke to me, and I found myself indulging in the books that followed, Gathering Blue and The Messenger.
And writing! Pieces of paper and the simplest pencil soothed my soul. It felt great to be able to express my emotions and reflections through words. I could be myself without having to worry about whether or not I would be accepted. I kept my writing to myself until I decided to take a creative writing class during my undergrad years. Unfortunately, my experience in that class kept me away from writing for two years. It was no longer a passion or a hobby; it became an obligation. My professor was unfriendly, and she did not encourage me to keep writing. Although my classmates greatly enjoyed my reflections and words, she pushed me away by not being responsive or motivational.
My lack of confidence dogged me throughout the years, until one day I realized that something was missing. It became important for me to become my own friend. I was on this journey to get closer to God. I was learning the importance of relying on myself, and I was also picking up my writing habit again. This time around, I pushed myself to share my words. I had a blog and I was not afraid of rejection. I welcomed acceptance. While this meant I had to get out of my zone of comfort, I understood that it would help me build a new comfort zone. Also, I found out that discomfort can be a lesson, not a punishment. Through this process, I began to accept myself. My imperfections were works in progress, and I had this opportunity to become someone who could be good to the world. I could not change those around me, but I could change myself.
I found that the more time I spent with myself, the more I learned about who I am. Spending alone time did not make me feel lonely. Instead, this alone time gave me the energy I needed to contribute something positive to the world. And above all else, I became my own best friend. I wish the younger version of me knew how valuable it would have been to become my own best friend early on. It would have made life easier, and I would have avoided being bullied and picked on. However, I might not have valued my relationship with myself the way that I do now. It is very much possible that I became my own best friend at the right time, because it taught me a lot about self-discovery and appreciation. While my lack of confidence was a lesson that lasted a couple of decades, I hope that it was long enough to have a lasting effect.