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.
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.