As I write this, I am sitting on my bed with a clay mask on my face, having just applied a thin layer of tanning lotion. Why am I telling you this? To be honest with you. I have a problem with picking at a zit rather than leaving it, I got tired of hearing how pale I was, and I got tired of feeling like I could see my veins through my skin. I have not mastered the idea of self-confidence but I have learned a great deal in improving it. To this day, there are times when I can’t stop comparing myself to women like Tammy Hembrow and the other fitness idols on my Instagram. That being said, I have never loved myself more. In college, we are surrounded by young and beautiful people to compare ourselves to. There will always be someone with shinier hair, larger muscles, or bigger brains. Self-confidence is an issue everyone faces, and probably always will, but the closer we get to accepting ourselves as we are without the need to be someone else, the more we can enjoy life for what it is. No excuses, no putdowns, no hate; keep reading.
1. Accept that you are not perfect
Maybe you expected me to start this by telling you you’re perfect, but let’s be honest with each other, you wouldn’t have believed me if I had. You’re right, you are full of flaws, and so am I, and so is everyone else. Our flaws make us perfectly imperfect. Someone is going to be inspired to laugh because your snort when you laugh. Someone else will wish their hair was naturally curly as much as you wish your hair would stay straight permanently. Another will wish they could be more sociable, but the sociable ones are worrying that they talk too much. What you consider a flaw is someone else’s definition of perfection. It is time you accepted that you are perfectly imperfect.
2. Do what makes you happy
This may be a little obvious, but there are too many people making decisions based on what everyone else thinks of them. There are people out there judging others for having cosmetic surgeries, wearing a tight dress, going out instead of staying in, working instead of prioritizing school, wearing bright eyeshadow instead of neutrals–the list goes on. The bottom line is not everyone is going to agree with you. My dad always told me that if I wasn’t making enemies then I wasn’t living for myself. So, for me, dye your hair purple, get the tattoo, buy the bright makeup, wear the cute outfit–do what you want to do. You are the happiest when you are living for yourself.
3. List what you love about yourself
Every morning when you look in the mirror, say what you love about yourself. I don’t care if your roommate gives you a weird look–you’re doing what makes you happy, remember? List at least three, but keep going if you can. The more you appreciate yourself and who you are, the better you will feel. I know this sounds like one of those corny exercises in a self-help book, but they don’t get published for no reason. With each passing compliment, you will begin to feel better about yourself. Attach them to the mirror or write them down if you must, but use it to fuel your happiness and self-love.
4. Take care of yourself
This is the part where I talk about self-care, and despite my present state, I don’t mean face masks and bubble baths (although, those don’t hurt either). I mean simply putting on outfits that make you feel good and look stunning, wearing makeup because you want to, following basic hygiene regimens. Sometimes self-hatred can go so far as to cause us to stray from the basic things we do every day that makes us feel good. No matter how busy you are, set aside time for the regiment personal to you that makes you feel like the best version of yourself.
5. Stop accepting the people and things that bring you down
Not to throw shade, but those “friends” that tell you that you shouldn’t wear the dress you like, or to take your hair out of a ponytail because “it looks better”–“friends” like that have to go. I’m not saying that you have to cut them out of your life completely, but they are playing a part in your lack of self-confidence and real friends don’t do that. Taking that into consideration, certain social media platforms could only be reinforcing your own insecurities. As I mentioned earlier, I follow plenty of women who inspire me in my fitness journey. On a good day, they make me motivated to go to the gym and set new goals to become a better version of myself. Other days, I can only think of how much I wish I could look like them, and then debate on buying their guides for two hours–because it must be the way to look like them right? Wrong. Here’s the thing, those guides aren’t going to turn me into them, nor should I want them to. Social media can lift you up or it can put them down, learn how to tell which is it doing for you.
6. Create a clean and happy environment
I know you’re in college and you are finally away from your parents constantly telling you to clean your room or dust on Saturdays and clean your toilets on Sundays. They were onto something, though; the environment you surround yourself with has a lot to do with how you begin to feel mentally. Water your plants, vacuum your floors, clean your sinks and mirrors, and do it because when your space is clean, you will feel happier. Happy equals confidence. I know this sounds a little strange, right? Well, one morning, I woke up for work feeling particularly overwhelmed, I had to work an eight-hour shift, go to the store, get an assignment in by midnight and write one last article. I walked into the bathroom and seen fingerprints on the mirrors, hair around my sink, and a full trash can (among other things). I had not had the chance to clean it yet, nor did it seem that I would that day either. It only made me feel worse. I felt gross, my room was gross, and in turn, I was overwhelmed by the list of things I had continued to put off. Not only had I put off my own self-care but it was now affecting my environment. The environment you create has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself.
7. Concern yourself with your health
I’m not saying you should start lifting weights, go to the gym six times a week, cut out soda, fast-food, and sweets. However, there is a certain extent to which we would be more mindful of our health. When we are taking care of ourselves, we feel so much better about ourselves. If any of you have ever read Rachel Hollis’ books Girl, Wash Your Face or Girl, Stop Apologizing, she highly recommends moving your body for thirty minutes every day in whatever way you feel. This also includes drinking more water and cutting out at least one food you know is not good for you–start small. Exercising is so energizing and stress-relieving, things we need as college students. Eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet changes how you feel about yourself. When you are constantly eating bad food and causing bloating, discomfort, and other health issues, this leads to an overarching distaste for yourself because your body isn’t happy, it doesn’t feel its best.
8. Do good for others
Doing food for others not only improve their lives but yours as well. Being selfless and deciding to help a good cause or donate to Dance Marathon, or buying the person’s meal behind you in the drive-thru, are all ways of impacting the lives of others. It may sound selfish when it is put this way, it may sound like I am telling you to do good for other people just to make yourself feel better. On the contrary, I am encouraging you to do good for others because it is rewarding for everyone involved. There is a quote by Simon Sinek that says, “The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others.” So, don’t participate in Dance Marathon just because it makes you feel good; do it because seeing the smile on a child’s face makes you realize how big of an impact you can have on the world by being you.