Sometime around third or fourth grade my innocent, vulnerable confidence of a child turned into waking up dreading going to school. Self-confidence had turned into self-consciousness. Where once I was able to get up in front of my class and be “Chicken Little” in my first grade play to crying on stage in fourth grade because I wanted to be the lead in the play “H.M.S. Pinafore” so badly but I couldn’t be there without crying through the whole rehearsal.
I think back on that time now imagining that the word vulnerable had shifted overnight from cute to annoying.
The eyes of others upon me back then and now felt, and can feel like daggers of hate rather than supportive, encouraging, caring eyes. The change had happened within me not so much from the others kids. My home life had changed dramatically and it was showing. The stress level at home had risen to the point where any mistake I made was pointed out and often times punished. Mistakes were to be avoided at all cost. This began a life of increased anxiety along with a growing propensity for lying.
Later on in life I realized that the difference between self-consciousness and self-confidence was an inside job. Having the right man, more money, being in another city, none of that was able to bring me back to the me that I remembered loving to be.
It came to the point where I had no confidence or self love left at all. Just being alive came into question. Through my faith and my courage to be vulnerable again by going into therapy, I was able to leave my blaming family members and old friends behind me. My self-confidence came back slowly. Instead of relying on the reassuring words of others to be okay, I began a journey of becoming the woman I had always wanted to be. I went through my anxieties and told people how I was feeling. I choose those people wisely.
As I relearned to trust my instincts of what was right for me to say and be involved with, there was an inner peace that I found necessary for any return to self-confidence. A trusting of my ability to reassure myself nothing was going to happen that I couldn’t handle if I traveled alone, got up in front of people and shared my experiences, wrote a book or any longings I had from long ago.
Ridicule, shame and guilt of harming others by acting on what I thought were good ideas were replaced with kind and loving reassurances from others and from within. This took some time for sure! But I began the journey to being the woman I had always wanted to be.
For sure, there are times I require a reality check to see if my pride and ego are running the show. I cannot pretend to be totally altruistic. God’s plan for me includes using my self-confidence for doing the next right thing. I can find glory in (perceived) adulation. There is a system of checks and balances I am required to remember as I go about my day attempting to care for others. The most important of all is checking in with myself. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Have I left my own emotional welfare to the wayside as I become emotionally and physically overwhelmed?
My balance of self-care vs self will is sometimes a daily meditation! I tend to run to the rescue of others in hope that only then will I have worth and value. Only then will I have the self-confidence I longed for and worked so hard to obtain.
“Faith without works is dead” as they say. The work of my faith is to remain faithful to myself with love and care along with my confidence to do for others. Humbly I ask God daily for his care and guidance. In that way I can be assured my worth and value, my self confidence would be for the good.