2020 has truly thrown us some curveballs, hasn’t it?
….Did I say curveballs? Oh, I actually meant that moment in the game when it’s the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded, and you’re gripping your bat ready to swing…and then you get hit squarely in the face and break your nose. Okay, so I don’t do sports analogies, but you get the idea. It’s been a rough year in so many ways.
There is plenty to be wringing our hands about in this day and age — in fact, if you aren’t at least a little worried, it’s likely you aren’t checking your social media platform twelve times a day (oh…is that just me?) When the confetti-filled ball drop of NYE rang in a new decade, nobody could have foreseen how much of a whirlwind/dumpster fire we would be facing in the new year. …And remember how it’s only August?? Haha. Ha. Good times.
Whoever you are, whatever your situation, I’d bet that you have been affected in an unpredictable variety of ways by the events of this new decade’s start — whether that’s in your working situation (hello Zoom fashion!), relationships with friends and family, and your mental and physical health.
But let’s get a little more metaphysical. How has 2020 affected your confidence? Particularly as women, as parents, as business owners or as activists, we may have been severely whiplashed by the events of 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the recent protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd, unrest has become a near-normal state of being — both on a macro and micro level. Both in our neighborhoods — and in our hearts.
In the midst of the world’s turmoil, why does self-confidence matter? And what does it look like?
Having Faith In Your Own Abilities
Being able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of your achievements is one of those easier-said-than-done things. Even with daily affirmations, it’s common to feel that you’re not measuring up. And if you are a parent, you know intimately the ever-present waves of mom/dad guilt (“I’m not playing with them enough!” “I’m not feeding them healthily enough!” On and on and on) that feel like your constant sidekick. With virtual schooling and any and all attempts to keep children’s boredom at bay, we feel more spread thin — and more discouraged at our apparent failings.
Remember this: you are capable. To parents: all your kids want is to be safe and happy with you, and any parent can achieve this simply by being confident and willing to try out new things to stay busy. It is easy to become crippled with fear at the thought of something bad happening to your kids; there’s no making these thoughts go away completely, but you can find ways to be positive each day. Here are some great mantras which help encourage positive feelings and confidence in yourself when the days — or the social media feeds — have you feeling less than your best.
- I am enough, just as I am.
- I am doing my absolute best to provide for my family. That is all I can do.
- I have been through tough times before, and I can do it again.
- I am kind, smart and thoughtful.
- I am perfectly imperfect.
Repeat these to yourself. Out loud and often.
Embracing Confidence as an Action, Not a Feeling
We often talk about ‘feeling’ confident. Confidence is something that occurs to some people very naturally, and others have to work hard at achieving it. *aggressively raises hand* But whether or not you are naturally a confident person, your confidence can be improved by considering it to be an action, rather than a feeling. Instead of waiting for the sensation of confidence to arrive at your door or be bestowed upon your being, go out and find it for yourself.
How can you do this? The first step is understanding that confidence is a journey, not a moment; an action, not a feeling. So how do you embrace confidence as a verb in your day to day life?
- Be Honest with Yourself. Nobody’s perfect, (hello! Hannah Montana told us this years ago?) and THAT. IS. FINE. It’s supposed to be that way. Life is a journey of learning and growth, not perfection. If you feel terrible one day, just own it. Try to understand that it is a temporary moment, and that soon you will feel yourself again. Enjoy the chance to be a work in progress. Owning up to (and not resenting) your imperfections is one step closer to enacting confidence in yourself. The sooner you can see yourself better through that lens, the more you can help others, too.
- Back Yourself. Have you ever looked at a job description, and thought, “I would love to do that job, but I probably wouldn’t get it.” We all have. Well, it’s time to start unlearning it. Even if you feel like you might not be fully qualified for something, or that a particular job or task will be too challenging, just try. Back yourself and grab that foam finger — you should be your number one cheerleader.
- Practice Alone Time. As a parent, finding true, uninterrupted alone time is practically impossible. (Even those little fingers find you underneath the door while you’re seeking refuge in the bathroom or pantry.) But if you can, even for ten minutes per day, take a moment to breathe, stretch, and be calm. Centering yourself in a moment of calm will reinforce your strength and motivation to be the best version of yourself. Prioritize time to invest in yourself — in your passions, hobbies, and interests — this will be essential to boosting your self-confidence and nourishing positive mental health.
I know it sounds trite, but even with so much work to do both personally and socially in 2020, we can still make lemonade from this year’s bitter lemons. (Or a lemon bar perhaps? Like an eat-the-whole-pan-by-yourself-while-bingeing-Netflix type thing?)
Know this: if you feel burned out and exhausted (physically and emotionally) by this year’s goings-on, you aren’t alone. We’re together in this, and we can buoy each other — and ourselves — up during difficult times. Remember: each day still holds the possibility for baby steps in a better direction, for small acts of confidence and improvement and progress.