I remember when I was in the awkward teen stage of life. It was so difficult to navigate my way through high school. Unfortunately, the internal criticism didn’t stop when I turned 18; it followed me into adulthood.
Turns out, I’m not alone. According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code for Girls:
- 92% of teens want to change something about the way they look.
- 9 out of 10 girls feel pressure to be skinny.
- 53% of girls are unsatisfied with their bodies (that goes up to 78% by age 17).
- 7 out of 10 girls will not speak out in a classroom or work environment because of the way they look.
Even today, there are times when I’ve talked myself out of something because my confidence told me I was incapable of handling a job or assignment. There have also been times when I’ve felt not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.
And, if you’re honest, you can probably relate to those same feelings. It’s totally normal! We all experience negative, confidence-breaking, and harsh moments within ourselves. We tend to be our biggest critics, and most of the time, we’re super rude to ourselves. I mean, would you walk up to someone and say, “Gosh, your hips are big,” or “You’re totally not smart enough to be a part of THAT conversation with THOSE people”?
So, thinking into the future, what are young girls supposed to do if their adult role models do not set good examples of confidence? What does low self-esteem teach the next generation? I wonder how much those percentages would change if we spoke out more in favor of body positivity and took away the negative stigma around failures and the fear of being embarrassed.
I know it would take a while to accomplish a goal that big, but it isn’t impossible.
There are already countless organizations and empowerment groups that promote confidence-building practices for the rising female generation, but even the best of intentions are pointless if we don’t listen to them.
As human beings, we’re more likely to take action if someone we know is also participating, so mothers, big sisters, cousins, aunts, family friends, ministers, youth leaders, community organization workers, etc., I have a challenge for you!
Below are 10 ways you can teach yourself how to love who you are, enjoy your process, and live in your moment while influencing the future generation of women around you.
- Perfection is impossible! Perfection does not equal success. Stop worrying about things being perfect. Settle with, “I know it was my best and that’s good enough.”
- Be your own cheerleader! Not everyone is going to support you, so sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back and say, “You did that, girlfriend!”
- Don’t look for approval from others. In the past (ok, I’m still working on this), everything I did circled around other people. I wondered if they would like it or if it made others uncomfortable. But now, I ask myself, “Would they do the same for me or are other people in charge of my life?”
- Appreciate the small and the big things. There are studies that actually link happiness to gratitude! We tend to be more positive when we appreciate things in our life.
- Focus on the now! (In my opinion, this one is most important.) We are the happiest and most confident when we are living in the present, according to Kay and Shipman. Stop stressing over what happened because it already happened. And, please stop getting anxious over the future! Work hard, do what you need to do, and just do it! If the end result is bad, just remember, “I can’t change it, but at least I can say I did it.”
- Treat yourself with respect. Do I need to go any further? Stop the negative self-talk, doubts, and obsessive desire to be perfect.
- Make sure your goals are realistic. Can you really do it? Do you have time for it? Is it something that interests you? Do you want to do it? If no is the answer to any of these, please change the goal for the sake of your happiness and sanity
- Rewire your Brain. Yes, it’s possible! Did you know that we can reteach our brains to be more confident and positive? Cut out those negative comments and tell yourself how amazing you are every day!
- Say NO! Can all the people-pleasers raise their hands at this time? Yeah, start saying no, and be confident in your no! It’s a great feeling and it also teaches you to stand by your word and build - you guessed it - CONFIDENCE.
- You will fail at some point… I know some of you all are like, “Nope, not me.” Let me be the bearer of bad news. You will fail many times, but that is one of the best parts of life. You get told no, you get told you are not good enough, you didn’t do it right, somebody else won instead of you... I mean I could go on with all the potential failures, but that’s not important. Failure creates your story. Failure makes you stronger. Failure builds character. Just remember: A minor setback can lead to a major comeback!
By Akeyla Madison