Building Your Confidence from Scratch (a Personal Confession)
Photo courtesy of "ModernDope".

Building Your Confidence from Scratch (a Personal Confession)

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence

Today’s post is a personal one. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time.

I’ve written before about my experiences with childhood bullying. It’s something that a lot of multipotentialites seem to have experienced (apparently when you do origami at recess and play violin in an orchestra, other kids think you’re weird…)

And yet the truth is that the worst, most enduring bullying I ever experienced was not inflicted by my classmates at all, but by myself.

Sure, the bullies may have started it, but their words lingered, echoed and expanded for over ten years after they were gone from my life. That was due to nobody’s fault but my own.

The Person I used to Be

Most people look at who I am now and assume that I’ve always been this self-assured. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Up until a few years ago, I had zero confidence. None. Zip. I thought very little of myself. I scrutinized my body and put myself down again and again. I didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to be in a relationship with me. I thought I was different, that relationships, happiness, all of that, was for “other people,” not me.

I used to hate being in groups or in social settings, I would worry about what others thought of me. I’d get really quiet and lose my “voice.” Of course, awesome, interesting Emilie was there, lurking beneath the surface. My true self came out in moments, through my art (of various forms) and when I was with my close friends whom I felt comfortable with. But in general, I was pretty unhappy with myself.

And then one day, about four years ago, I’d had enough. I finally realized that the only way to be happy was to decide to be happy. Nobody could do it for me. I had to make the choice– to commit.


Putting in the Hard Work

Of course this declaration was just the beginning. It took years of work, a lot of committing, falling backwards, and then re-committing.

I had to work on both my internal mindset and behaviour on a consistent basis for years before I started seeing results. But I can now say, with absolute certainty that I’ve become a huge fan of myself. Haha… I know that sounds incredibly arrogant, but I don’t mean it like that.

I don’t think I’m better than anyone (true confidence comes when you no longer feel the need to be “better” than others in order to gain validation. You get your validation from within and are then free to lift other people up). What I mean, about being a huge fan of myself, is that when I look into the mirror now, I’m no longer filled with disappointment. Now I think, “that girl there? She’s awesome! She’s my best friend.”

When Confidence Wavers

Of course I don’t feel awesome all the time. My confidence comes and goes throughout the day. I go through stretches of days– weeks sometimes, where I’m very anxious and unsure of myself.

But.

Now I have the tools to get myself back there. I know exactly what to do to feel good about myself again. I’m talking about specific exercises and actions, not just mindset stuff like affirmations or “positive self-talk.” It goes far deeper than that.

Multipotentialites and Confidence

I’ve noticed that many of the amazing, inspiring people I meet these days, also had a lot of trouble with confidence growing up. This has lead me to conclude that having no confidence is a blessing, because if you can learn to build your own confidence from scratch, then you’re set.

This knowledge will empower you in a way that those with natural confidence will never have to master. If you know how to build your own confidence from scratch, you can do it again when you waver (we all waver from time to time). Your happiness will be in nobody’s hands but your own.

This is the Most Important Stuff I’ve Ever Learned

Learning to build confidence is a topic that has has helped transform my life, more than anything else. When I was starting my Renaissance Business, I even thought about creating a community specifically devoted to overcoming childhood bullying and building confidence from scratch. (Of course, I’m grateful that I didn’t, and instead picked an overarching theme that would allow me to explore this issue along with many others).

But I think I may create some sort of free course or guide about this. (Now, I’m not committing to anything or looking to be held accountable. We all know that scanners tend to get sidetracked with many different projects, and I certainly have my fair share of things on my plate. I’m just being honest about what I’ve been thinking lately.)

It’s just that I have a feeling that I won’t have any choice in the matter– that this is something that needs to come out of me, something I have to share…

Did you build your confidence up from scratch? Share your stories in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

72 Comments

  1. Kait says:

    WOW. Thank you SO much for posting this! I struggle with confidence as well and am in the process of creating my own. You give me hope when you say things like it took a year or so to see results, and having to commit & recommit. I feel like I have been working at this for a while, and it’s not getting any easier – yet.
    And gaining external validation? OMG that’s me. I only just recently became aware that I do that.

    Emilie, when you say you have the tools to feel good, and it’s a lot deeper than affirmations/self talk, what do you mean?

    • Emilie says:

      Ah you’re so welcome! Like I said, this felt like a post (maybe a series of posts…) I had to write, for myself. But the fact that it’s resonating so resoundingly with many, really tells me something. That I need to keep going– keep listening to myself.

      Good for you, consciously working on your confidence! That’s really the first step, and it’s a big one. It is most definitely a long process, but once you get to a point where you feel great about yourself for the first time, it becomes much easier to return there.

      And… glad you asked. :) I think that will be the content of whatever free ‘thing’ I decide to bundle this info up in. Most of the tools I use involve changing your physiology (the way you move and behave) not for the purpose of appearing confident to others, but rather to “trick” your brain into thinking you’re a confident person because you’re moving like one.

      I’ll explain it more thoroughly in whatever I create, but basically, the mind follows the body just as much as the body follows the mind. Once you know how a confident person moves and behaves, you can adopt those behaviours and they will help shift your mindset.

    • Giovanni Rhidonni says:

      Good to see you’re happy =].

      At the end of the day, it’s how someone feels about themSELF, which will guide their life. Otherwise, you’re just on the constant look out for external validation: friends, family, boy/girl friend, random strangers, fans.

      Take it from me, a long-time blogger and nutrition expert of several years, you need a careful guide to building up self confidence. Try this out for size:

      http://realcore.selfconfidenceguides.com/

      Guaranteed results, if you follow the programs with discipline. Think you have what it takes to lead a confident lifestyle? I know you do.

      Cheers and God Bless!

      -Giovanni

  2. Angela says:

    I’ve been building my confidence up from scratch for about a year now, and it’s made a world of difference. I still have a long way to go, but I’m really happy with the results. I tell myself how awesome I am now. Saying the same great things about myself to other people is still an issue. I’m working on it. This has been a year of overcoming crazy obstacles, and having some self confidence has helped a ton.

  3. Johan says:

    Yup, I did. Once growing up, second time after a divorce.

  4. Powerful, honest, and utterly relevant.

    This applies to confidence, in a big way, and I’ll expand a bit:

    *Anything* we ‘have to build from scratch’ is a blessing.

    The world’s sustainably successful build a business or financial empire from scratch. They build fulfilling thriving relationships by working on themselves, usually over much time. They build brands and personalities, starting as close as they can to the root, and then getting more detailed and specific.

    Life gives us building blocks, which we can use well if we’re not busy staring at the blocks other people are using.

    Thanks again Emilie for being authentic, for sharing, and for delivering value for your peeps.

    Putty’s unite ;)

    • Emilie says:

      Jason, you rock. That is all.

      Well no, that’s not all… Lol.

      You make an excellent point! When you build something up from scratch it really is that much more powerful because you understand the process. If I could empower everyone in the Puttylike community to the point where they no longer needed me, in my mind that would be ultimate success. Really, I would happily retire. :)

  5. Conni says:

    Thanks for this honest post, Emilie. I found myself a few times in your words.
    I’ve always been (or appeared) very confident on the outside. But the inside didn’t resemble that at all. When I look back to my teenage years, and even up to my early twenties, I was so insecure with my personality. I was so worried about what other people thought of me – mostly the small things. Maybe it’s cause I’ve lived in so many different places in my life and moved a lot. I’m not sure.

    The last couple of years have made such a difference to my confidence. I#ve noticed this recently actually.
    Must have been the full-time travelling and being properly in love and happy for the first time in a relationship. And Berlin – almost everyone is 20%-100% nuts here – you can be anything you want and it’s ok.

    So I wonder, Emilie – you say you know exactly what to do to feel good about yourself again. Can you elaborate on that?

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Conni,

      Thanks for sharing your story! Have you heard Hugh McLeod’s quote about how “you shouldn’t compare your insides to someone elses outsides?” It’s so true. Sometimes people look really confident but are actually quite insecure inside.

      Yes, I can elaborate and I will. But I need the proper space. My guess is this means a free PDF of some sort. But I will definitely be writing about some of my “tools” on the blog as I go. I may actually do a blog post series here and then just compile them into one PDF. I really haven’t decided.

      Anyway, I sort of touched on my techniques in response to Kait’s comment above. It involves using my physiology to take on the physical/behavioural traits of a confident person, not to trick other people, but to trick my own mind. The mind follows the body kind of thing.

      Oh and Berlin sounds awesome! I sort of feel the same way about Portland. Being weird is practically a requirement.

  6. Darice says:

    I LOVE reading your personal thoughts…it almost feels like I’m reading my own journal. Part of me feels horrible that other people have had that same battle with self-worth, and the other feels empowered because I know the strong survive and are better off for it.

    Brilliant words from a kick ass lady…thank you! :-D

  7. Misha says:

    Emilie, I’m completely enamored and invigorated by your selfless, illuminating and introspective level of audacious candor! I thought for a moment there, completely immersed in reading your entry that you were talking about me!

    The act of witnessing your unabridged authenticity has alloted me a renewed perspective and greater sense of compassion and courage for myself. To say the least I was Lord Of the (fill in everything “weird” and cringe-worthy) throughout my entire school career. That, coupled with a strange inclination to dissect and cross analyze what others did and said made me the quintissential poster child for what a doormat is.

    Emilie as well as Jason- you both make stunningly eloquent observations about learning to have/create a grounded sense of autonomy and self-actualization- often times propelled by the recognition that external forces can at best serve as transient substitutes for a truth we all must embrace through a personalized, solitary experience.

    Putty peeps- through your intimacy and candor you’ve let me know that its perfectly okay to be that wall flower most others overlooked- in the hearts of those that were meant to be a part of my life, my existence was a reflection of their lightness and love, and that’s all that really matters. You all rock!

    • It’s totally mutual Misha!

      Everything in life is a team effort, and your contribution is beautiful. Keep shining :)

      I really resonate with Emilie and this community, and it feels fantastic to be recognized (oh no, am I seeking external validation? :P)

      Thank you.

    • Emilie says:

      Wow, thank you Misha! As Jason said (he’s always beating me to the punch, ;) you’re beautiful and so is your story.

      This really means a lot to me, it’s so wonderful knowing that our experiences really are shared by others and we’re not alone. And yes, it’s ok to be who you are. One of the biggest lessons I learned along my path was that, not only should you not hide the things that make you different, but those are precisely the things that you should feature.

      Thanks for being a part of the puttytribe, Misha! It makes me proud to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

  8. Misha says:

    And you’re totally beautiful Emilie! I don’t know what those kids were sprinkling in the Kool-aide! :)

  9. Juventud says:

    Great post! (Now you’re used to it, aren’t you? ;-)). Such a post can only be expected by you because these topics are perhaps deemed as trivial or forbidden. Most of the normal people are blessed with confidence (we aren’t normal, normal people aren’t scanners). But some people lack confidence and self respect for unavoidable reasons or it could be innate too. What I have realised is that the only reason you have less confidence is when you consider others to better than you which is most of the time wrong. Comparison is the reason why we suffer scarcity of confidence. No matter how innumberable people are there in this world one can never be a complete match for the other. Even if I compared myself to Einstein, although he was more intelligent than me but there would be something that he would have lacked that I have. I used to suffer with less confidence still I do from time to time but I have overcome a lot. Like Someone said you are what you think, so the person you look up to is the person you are. I look up to Chris Jericho and Daniel Day Lewis so this way I possess the qualities of both the guys and I feed to my mind that I am them. So this way anyone I meet couldn’t be better than me because most people aren’t as good as them. Emilie honestly when I was going through a rough time it was you who came along and worked as an instant confidence booster I really respect you for that. Thanks

    • Juventud! Fantastic post man. Thanks for sharing :D I can tell you’re on a great path, and I’m glad you brought up einstein.

      I have an IQ of 184, but I’ve made every mistake, doormat, boundary-less mistake in the book.

      One of Einstein’s greatest quotes: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – he was a brilliantly intelligent man, but he knew his intelligence was nothing special. His imagination was, and so is yours.

      As for comparison…

      I always say “The only comparison worth anything is comparing the old you, to the new you.”

      Rock on man!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Juventud! I’m not sure I believe in “normal” anymore. The more I learn about people, the harder this quality is for me to find. Sure, some people fit into a mainstream ideal much more closely than others, but not as many as you’d think looking in from the outside. And where does that mainstream ideal even come from anyway?

      I think using role models is a fabulous way to build confidence. I certainly did that as I was working on my own confidence. What I eventually found though, is that it only worked up until a point. Then it became a bit of a crutch. Eventually you no longer need to compare yourself to anyone, not even your heros. That’s when true freedom comes– When you detach yourself from having to be better than anyone, when you get your value, not by taking it, but by giving it.

  10. Juventud says:

    I type from mobile so forgot this part sorry:-(. It was my lack of confidence that has made me a little arrogant now. I know its not a good thing but now I really can’t help it and i’m not arrogant in a bad way but its just that I can’t stand people who are pretentious and not kind to others maybe bully is the right word for them. I’ve found that music is really wonderful for boosting confidence. I personally shy away from girls very much. Untill I was 21, my whole life i’ve suffered major damage to my confidence. People avoided my company, ignored me completely, called me names and threatened to beat me. I was a coward honestly. But over years I created a solid wall for all these things and that wall is arrogance. You see. Thanks

    • Emilie says:

      I know exactly what you mean. I struggle with this sometimes too. It’s definitely much harder to be around people with low confidence once you’ve already overcome that yourself.

      What I try to do is make them feel more comfortable and validated so that they stop worrying so much about what I think of them and relax. Sometimes it’s a lost cause though. But I generally try to take a compassionate approach because I know that judging them will only lower my own confidence and will actually hurt me, which is what criticizing other people tends to do. Lifting up insecure people can be really really hard to do in practice though!

      Thank you for sharing Juventud. Beautiful as always.

  11. Paige Burkes says:

    I’ve dealt with a lifetime of “not good enough” and the related anxiety and frustrations. Funny, I never thought of it as a lack of confidence. Even though I seemed to have the confidence to do things in an effort to be “good enough,” it’s never been enough.

    As you’ve discovered, being happy with myself just the way I am – knowing inside myself that I’m good enough – has made all the difference. While before I would do things to try and measure up to other people who were never actually judging me (it was always in my head), now I do things because those things make me happy and can help other people. Being good enough at it is much less of an issue.

    I’d love to hear about the tools you use to get back your confidence when it wavers.

    • Emilie says:

      You touch on some really interesting ideas, Paige. Motivation has been huge for me as well. Just asking why you’re doing a certain thing. It can be anything, from going to grad school to something minor like wearing a particular shirt or walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator. I’ll frequently ask myself whether I’m taking (or not taking) an action because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do, or because it’s what I want. I like to start with the small actions and just be assertive whenever possible. It makes it so much easier to deal with the big stuff.

  12. I am so in love with you and this post, thank you for sharing it. It all rings so, so true for me. I’ve always just felt different… like I didn’t fit in, didn’t belong around people. I was interested in the normal things (like gossip, the mall, draaamaaa) and I had a hard time finding my place in life. I tried very hard to fit in and find my people, and I did okay, but they weren’t really MY people.

    It wasn’t until the past few years that I really began to love myself for who I am. That I began practicing just being okay with myself as is, not caring what other people thought, eliminating relationships that weren’t right. I worked up the confidence in myself to start a blog, using my real name (I’d blogged anonymously for years).

    The most validating part of the past few years has been people thanking me for sharing my mind through my writing. The one thing that I thought was so unacceptable, odd and different.

    The biggest tool I’ve learned this year is that confidence is simple about showing up in the present moment, owning your experience (good, bad, sad, uncomfortable) and just partying with it. Not fighting what you’re feeling, not trying to act different than you are. I have seen people learn this tool and they go from nervous and awkward to totally comfortable right before your eyes. It’s amazing.

    If you do decide to create some kind of free training or whatever, I would be happy to contribute some of the tools I’ve learned. It’s such a freeing feeling to be confident and comfortable in who you are.

    And of course, I too experience doubt at times, but that’s just part of living life as an awesome person. ;) xoxo

    • Own your experience and party with it.

      <3

      Gold line :)

    • Emilie says:

      Wow to be honest, I saw myself in your comment as well. You’re right, it is so fantastic to see someone transform before your eyes! And yes, sometimes you do have to leave people behind. Sadly not everyone will accept the confident version of you and having toxic people around pretty much makes personal growth impossible.

      I agree, it is wonderful having people thank me for sharing my thoughts. :) However, I do have to remind myself not to become reliant on those votes of approval from others. They’re great, but the love has always gotta come from inside first! :)

  13. Colleen says:

    That’s it, I’ve had enough. I’m starting today! 40 isn’t too late is it? I f*&king LOVE YOU! What a fabulous post–thank you :)

  14. Juventud says:

    yeah..i agree with Misha..cause i had a lil crush on you earlier when i discovered you, i confess :)..so you are totally beautiful inside and outside..

  15. Livia says:

    Thank you for writing this post Emily. If you do decide to pursue the issue of self-confidence in any form, I would love to read it and learn more.

  16. Jeremy says:

    I am new to the site but so glad I found it! This post is so amazing for people that need some reassurance on their confidence. I have never been bullied so I cannot fully feel that sense of torment, but I do like any other person feel insecure at moments. Insecurity has always been in the back of mind because I have always been a bit timid in new situations, especially as a child. This shyness carried into my teenage life and still lingers from time to time in my adult life.

    It has been the ability to believe in myself that has gotten me through in times of need. I don’t exactly know where it came from but I assume some came from my parents. We all beat ourselves up, but we also must learn to speak positive about ourselves as well. In that self speak lies the key to being more happy with yourself and with others !

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Jeremy, and welcome to the community!

      I think my parents instilled a lot of confidence in me as well. But it wasn’t enough to hold up to bullying, adolescence, etc. Still, I found that in my mid-twenties, as I became more confident, it sort of felt like I was returning to who I was when I was eight years old. Carefree, happy, unconcerned with what anyone thought of me. (Also, embracing my multipotentiality feels a lot like being a kid again– all the different art projects I get to do! Woo!)

      And yes, positive self-speak is a big part of it, certainly.

      Thanks for the comment!

  17. Holli says:

    Thank you for opening this topic up. I was just working on a post the past couple of days, tackling the subject of self-image. My daughter has just started to compare her looks. She’s only 3 and 1/2! I wish I knew how to help her learn her worth/beauty NOW.

    So, if you have any thoughts on what your parents did or didn’t do to help you find your self-confidence, I’m all ears! Of course, at some point you came to the decision yourself, as you’ve shared. But, I guess what I’m really asking is, can I help a child learn this earlier than most of us?

    And, then I wonder about the fact that there are lessons all of us have to learn on our own time. I can’t make my child learn anything. Part of the process is being ready, and that is something I cannot make happen!

    As for my own confidence, I’ve always had an oddly strong sense of self on one level (like what I believe to be true about life). But, in other areas, yes, I had to build from scratch. It’s those creative areas or reiterations of my artistic growth that I’ve lacked that same level of confidence.

    How have I overcome it? I’m still working on that…but, it helps to just do things. Once I overcome one thing, I have the strength to keep on building.

    • Holli! What a beautiful sentiment and intention for your child. She’s blessed already to have you in her life.

      I recently read this, and it may shed some light. I really, really, love the concept.

      http://www.positivelypositive.com/2011/11/04/be-the-person-you-want-your-child-to-be-blog/

      Lead by example, be the change you wish to see. Demonstrate self-worth and beauty with your own uncompromising adherence and development of it in your self. If you’ve already mastered it, look for more ways you can animate these qualities, or deeper ways.

      Well, my two cents, I wish you all success!

      • Holli says:

        Thanks, Jason! I totally agree that kids learn more by example than “lessons” or “being told” – thank you for the link too.

        Good stuff:)

        • Emilie says:

          I was going to say the same thing, lead by example. You’re already doing a wonderful job of that, Holli.

          I too wonder about this though. What can you do as a parent to help your kid develop strong self-confidence? I’m not sure I have an answer. My parents always encouraged me to be myself and follow my heart. It still wasn’t enough to counteract the social forces at school. Having a supportive family to return to is really is huge though! A lot of people don’t even have that. I honestly can’t imagine how hard it would be to have grown up with critical parents. I feel extremely fortunate.

          The only other thing I can think of is that some schools are much better socially, than others. I changed from a horrible snobby private school to this artsy hippie school and it made an enormous difference. I’m sure it would have been much harder to later overcome my insecurities, had I stayed around those monster children for any more time.

          • We-ell… there’s a trick about this.

            Here’s my take on it:

            In our years on Earth, we’re NOT here to live an utterly stable, utterly comfortable, sheltered life.

            There is a reason your parents ‘follow your heart’ advice + support was not enough to *shield* you from social forces.

            That reason is that you came here to experience contrast.

            You came to experience lack of confidence.
            Really.
            You really did.
            It was a vital, key, super-important part of Emilie Rocking The World.

            Had your parents done ANYTHING that robbed you of that, you would NOT have ‘built it from scratch.’

            This means that all Holli can do, is be a fantastic example, and allow her daughter to experience whatever ‘ease’ or ‘hardship’ is vital to HER path.

            I understand any parent would want their child to *avoid* unpleasant things, but AVOIDING unpleasant things is not what life is about.

            It’s about USING them, and to encourage a child to experience them and use them, and to demonstrate this by example is to me, PRO. ;)

            But hey, just my two cents, and I don’t even HAVE kids :P

  18. Rebecca says:

    I can totally relate to this post. My self-confidence has been pretty much zilch for most of my life. I’ve been trying to build it up from scratch for a while, but I’m not there yet.

    I’m beginning to think that you’re never ‘there’… Like, that’s it, you’re now a confident person, end of journey. I bet everyone has moments of self-doubt and anxiety. I guess that’s where you draw on those tools you talked about. Like you said, it’s ok not to be a confident person ALL the time, as long as you can use those tools to get back to that place of confidence in dire times.

    Oh, and I’d be very interested in reading more from you on confidence building!

    • The magic of life is that it always gets deeper.

      It’s never-endingly deep.

      Mmm… love it.

      Am I confident? Hell yes. Could I animate deeper confidence? Yep. Will it always be this way? Yep.

      Beautiful :)

    • Emilie says:

      Absolutely. I would question the true confidence of anyone who claimed that they’re actually “there.” I think that when you make a statement like that, it really only sets you back further. You’re bound to be hit with some grenade of insecurity, and then what? Confidence fluctuates for all of us, it’s only natural.

      Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

  19. heather says:

    Just a knowing smile/nod/hand on shoulder combo.

  20. Louise says:

    “true confidence comes when you no longer feel the need to be “better” than others in order to gain validation.”

    This is so true! True confidence can only come when you define who you are and on your own terms. And when you don’t try and be who you think you “should” be. Written so eloquently and thoughtfully, as always!

  21. jennifer says:

    Really fantastic post, Emilie. I, too, dealt with a lot of childhood bullying. For four years in high school I was tortured every single day and threatened and it was awful. And from all that, I told myself I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve the things I wanted. I was a closeted writer back then. Desperate to get out, but afraid of the backlash I’d get from others. It wasn’t until I was into my third and fourth year of college where I started to realize it was OK to be me, but it took me years to finally fully 100% accept myself and love myself as I am, flaws, mistakes and all. Now I, too, am my own best friend and feel so lucky every single day that I get to be me. Thanks for sharing your story and for inspiring people to come out of their shells and be who they really are. Multipotentialites for life!!

  22. In these times of excessive social networking, it’s scary how much of our confidence is also dependent on external validation in the form of number of tweets, Facebook likes and shares. When we take a step back mentally, we realize how silly it really is. I think the biggest hit to our confidence comes when we try being someone that we think others will approve of, instead of just being who we are(warts and all), thereby turning ourselves into muddled, unhappy clones. True confidence must and does come from within.

  23. Aljoscha says:

    Thank you very much for your post. One more proof to me that personal adversity is a blessing. It gives you the neccesity to change yourself for the better. And suddenly you find yourself succeeding even more than people who don’t have this kind of adversity.

  24. Josh says:

    I totally identify and I think many that have somehow stumbled here are the same way. In my case I got healthy, took up martial arts, studied social dynamics and forced myself to talk to people till I got popular, haha. And I started seeing the good in others regardless of style or class.
    The advantage to starting from scratch is that you set yourself up to grow even beyond the illusional limits of the norm that others might see, but have learned to be content with.
    Now I’m building confidence to take the steps I need to start a business. Yes, I’m freaking out, but it’s a good freaking out. :-)

    • Emilie says:

      That is awesome, Josh. It’s pretty close to the steps I took to build my confidence too. Using action (talking to strangers, taking “risks” that aren’t really risks but just break stupid social conventions, body language, etc.) to affect the way you feel is really powerful.

      And it is so interesting how building confidence often leads one to take big steps in pursuing their professional dreams too. I know SO many people who got into social dynamics first and then launched businesses a few years later. That was certainly my own experience.

      Thanks for sharing your story man. And congrats on the biz! You’re going to rock it. :)

  25. Andrea says:

    Wow. What you wrote resonated so strongly with me because I SO relate. You’re right that the hard work is an ongoing process. It would be great if we could somehow achieve confidence and then be done, but it does ebb and flow, doesn’t it? Right now I’m in the very early stages of redesigning my career and have this dream of Being Me for a living. I’m inspired and fueled by people like you, Emilie, who are making it happen. And I thank you for sharing that this is still a process for you.

    From where I sit it is really easy to think that everyone else has it all figured out, and that triggers exactly the kind of thinking you were talking about. That this kind of life is for others, not me. So, thanks for pulling the curtain back and sharing your real thoughts here. It helps a lot!

    • Emilie says:

      Aw thanks Andrea! Yeah and about the ebb-and-flow thing, to be honest, I was a little worried about writing any sort of guide on confidence, because what if I hold myself up to be an “expert” on confidence and then one day I have to give a big talk and I happen to be feeling insecure? Will people be looking at me thinking, she seems totally nervous. Why should I take HER advice on confidence?!

      Of course I plan on preempting that by writing about how confidence can fluctuate, even in an instant. And how I struggle with this just like everybody else. It’s all about knowing the tools and doing the best you can to get back up there.

      And congrats on the business! Let me know if I can help in any way.

  26. Susan says:

    Emilie — What a beautiful post. When I started my blog, The Confident Introvert, earlier this year, I did it because I was tired of wearing the labels that others — often extroverts — gave me. I am not shy or anti-social and I do not hate people. Just because I relate to the world in a different way than extroverts do, doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me.

    As you said, the confidence you build yourself, that comes from within, is always better than a label someone else gives you.

    Bravo!

    • Emilie says:

      This is something I’ve learned as well, Susan. You can totally be an “introverted leader.” It’s one of my favourite things about Chris Guillebeau (a huge mentor and inspiration for me). When he speaks, he’s very modest and soft-spoken, but he’s so passionate, and that has such a powerful effect.

      Thanks for swinging by!

  27. Ally says:

    I agree with many of your punchlines. Real worth reading. Well I may not be the right person to share this, but this is my personal observation: think less about yourself and more about the task at hand. Enjoying the process instead of concentrating too much on the outcome reduces the anxiety. If one doesn’t enjoy the process, what’s the point in doing it?

  28. Mo says:

    Emilie ! Where have you been all my life?! I wondered here through startupremarkable.com and thank god I did, I’m here to stay. This popped out straight away for me. I felt like someone was analysing me and had posted this online without my consent lol

    I’ve always feel like I’m stuck in limbo with my confidence because I enjoy being introverted and learned how to embrace my weirdness. But then I forget habits that I’ve picked up through situations that have built it up. When you say “self-talk”, what do you tell yourself?

  29. Hi Friend! I am instantaneously addicted to your site. I should read a post about productivity next cuz I have stuff to do. :) This is an awesome post! I too had a “screw this unhappiness shit” day about 10 years ago and never looked back since. Not that everything was rosey and blissful, but my attitude changed for good. I stopped making excuses for why I can’t do what I want or be what I want or have what I need. I stopped wallowing in my own self-pity (which was actually just anger used as self-destruction as revenge toward those who claimed they loved me). I too, now, am a huge fan of myself. ;) So I know whatcha mean!!! :) Looking forward to future stuff. Thanks!

  30. Giovanni Rhidonni says:

    At the end of the day, it’s how someone feels about themSELF, which will guide their life. Otherwise, you’re just on the constant look out for external validation: friends, family, boy/girl friend, random strangers, fans.

    Take it from me, a long-time blogger and nutrition expert of several years, you need a careful guide to building up self confidence. Try this out for size:

    http://realcore.selfconfidenceguides.com/

    Guaranteed results, if you follow the programs with discipline. Think you have what it takes to lead a confident lifestyle? I know you do.

    Cheers and God Bless!

    -Giovanni

  31. Lulu says:

    I know I’m a bit late on this train in terms of commenting, but having only found this site a few weeks ago, I wanted to say something regardless of how late.

    I’m in the middle of building up my confidence. I have always had demons – everyone around me seems to think I’m a confident, happy person – people have even not believed me when I’ve told them I struggle to make friends, despite the fact I only have a handful at the best of times. My insecurity has been crippling, to the point in which, after years of building up, I inevitably suffered from a major depressive episode for a few months earlier this year. It totally broke me, and even though I have never felt like I’ve known who I am – I know what makes me up, but I have no idea how it fits together – I lost even the slightest idea of myself. Coming out of that, I have never felt so lost, alone and scared in my life. That’s when the rebuilding started.

    At first, when it lifted, I had a confidence I’d never felt before – a euphoria and sureness about myself. But that quickly left. Instead of going back to being lost, though, I set to work. Now I knew things about myself I didn’t before; that I need nature in my life more often (I live in London, and need more than a park to set me right, although now I try to get down to the Thames often, which is enough), I need to not be sitting still – I was meant to travel, and I haven’t travelled in years. My insecurity turned me self-centred, because all I can think of is myself, and what other people are thinking about me. That’s ugly. I struggle with that the most.

    But it’s getting a little better. I’m talking to strangers when I can, occasionally smiling at people I know. Now and then, I can drag myself into the present, and I’m taking better care of myself – eating, sleeping etc. I have to stop letting myself go un-looked after. No one else is going to look after me, after all. I’m also trying to keep in good contact with friends that I have left neglected.

    It’s hard, and I fail almost every day except for a few hours. But I don’t feel full of sadness all the time anymore, just occasionally, and I can be alone without tripping myself out. It’s a lot of self-loathing to dispel, and I reckon I need to give myself 2-3 years to properly eliminate it, but do you know what? I’m so glad I realised that it IS hard work, and it won’t happen overnight. I’m so glad I’ve realised that most of the aspects about myself that I dislike are caused by my insecurity, so as I gain confidence, they will fade more and more.

    Knowing that other people have been there, have dealt with this, is a relief, because often I feel like the only person I know who has had to rebuild. But even if I was – I’m trying to make myself a better person, not just for myself, but for other people. Once I’m confident, I can be there for people who might not be, and help people in ways I couldn’t dream of before, like putting them at ease.

    If only more people were aware they could rebuild, I’m sure it would make the world of difference. This isn’t all we are, we can change that.

  32. Kaylee says:

    So I’ve been lurking here for a little while now and finally decided to comment.. =) First, I lovelovelove your site. For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me for being a hobby-hoppin’ passion peruser. Turns out I’m not alone!

    I’ve been thinking about confidence a lot lately – as a kid, I was super confident..Until middle school. Then it plummeted, rocketed back up in high school, and now? It’s so-so. When I think back to high school and how I was so confident, I wonder why.

    And y’know what I found? I was SO freaking confident because I was doing things I loved – and not worrying! I didn’t try out for the musical determined to get to Broadway. I wasn’t singing in choir to become famous. I was just doing things because I loved them – and that’s what I’m missing.

    Apparently, I just wrote myself through this in your comments section…How often does that happen? Please tell me lots. =) Haha. But to make a point: maybe we can gain confidence through action and…fun? May.be…

    If you’ve come out with anything on confidence that I’ve missed, I’d love to see it. Thanks for reading my rambling. =)

    • Emilie says:

      Beautiful Kaylee. I think you’re right. The way I see it is we can derive inner confidence through pursuing the things we love, and in turn, that new confidence boost will make us more pursuing even more new passions. They reinforce each other.

      Also woo for self-discoveries!

  33. Donald says:

    This one’s a great post Emilie. So grateful, that I got across this :-)

    What you said is so true – we do waver once in a while. Far more at times :-) but then again as they say — fell down 8 times, got back up 9

  34. Rebecca says:

    Emilie, thank you so much for sharing your story and for the encouragement it lent me in navigating and overcoming the obstacles along my own rocky path.

    I love your mission, your mentality, your motivation and your mindset. And I love your blog posts and anecdotes.

    This is a great website. I wish you all the luck in the world with manifesting and maintaining your no end goal and sharing your purpose.

    Rebecca

Leave a Comment