Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Confidence Tips for Any Age and Any Size

Earlier this week I asked for submissions for my FAQ page, and new reader-friend Mari commented that she'd like to see a post about building confidence. Self-esteem and confidence are two things very close to my heart- not only because I was a child, teen, and young adult with major self-esteem issues, but also because I work with teens and young adults just like me every day. I can't remember exactly when I "became confident", but I'm pretty sure I remember when I first lost confidence in myself.

I was in fourth grade- I had terrible acne and worse teeth. I remember being picked on all the time about one or the other- neither of which I had any control over. I spent MANY years praying every night for pretty skin and straight teeth. I would fall asleep with tears on my cheeks and my fingers pushing against my stubbornly-bucked teeth, and awake the next day disappointed. I was depressed. I was anxious. I started cutting myself in 8th grade. I wanted to disappear.

There was no on/off switch or magic spelled that transformed me from a wallflower into the belle of the ball. It was a gradual process that took many years. I started dating a wonderful young man who made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I got a series of frustrating, yet character building jobs that forced me to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I went to therapy- multiple times. I married that awesome guy. I got braces. I lost weight. I had a child. Gained weight. Got a new job. Started blogging. See? There are so many variables.

So even though I don't consider myself an expert, here are some steps I think will really help you increase your confidence!

"You look beautiful!"
"Why thank you!"

1. Learn to take a compliment (and keep notes). How many times does someone say to you, "You look pretty" or something similar? What's your response? Women struggle with accepting compliments. We make excuses- "In this shabby dress?", "But my hair's a mess!', etc.,etc. We rarely just say thank you. So try this for a couple of weeks. When someone compliments you, say thank you. Then write it down. Keep a list of the kind things others say about you- and not just physical things. Every compliment!

2. Give compliments- There's just something reciprocal about compliments. You know when you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel good too. Be generous, but sincere with compliments, and remember, these women struggle too, so let them in on your new secret about keeping track of kindness!

3. While confidence comes from within, it never hurts to look good! Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful, powerful, strong. Wear make-up if you want to. Get a haircut. Buy some new lipstick. Stand up straight. Look people in the eyes.

Wanna feel confident? Wear an awesome dress in a dazzling pattern!
Dress- Land's End c/o Gwynnie Bee

4. Don't compare yourself to others! Ever heard that saying "Comparison is the thief of joy"? Well, it's true. I know I'm never going to have a personal trainer and a private chef to make me look like Gwyneth Paltrow or a Victoria's Secret model. So why beat myself up about it? Who are you comparing yourself to? Is it healthy or are you reaching for totally unrealistic ideals that are sabotaging your own happiness and zapping your confidence?

5 Take risks- big or small. It doesn't matter what kind of risk, but it is essential to take yourself out of your comfort zone. We always lose confidence when faced with unfamiliar situations, so we tend to avoid them. But I am encouraging you to do those things that scare you. Wear a bright color or pattern. Join a gym or take a Zumba class. Sing in your choir. Join a book club. Heck, jump out of an airplane! Once you have completed the task, you will swell with confidence. You will be proud of whatever fear you've overcome, and you will probably discover that you enjoyed yourself in the process!

6. Don't take things personally. This is something I have to remind myself of daily- especially working around teenagers. I used to get my feelings hurt when I would hear that a student was mad at me or said I was mean (or worse!). Then I realized, they are kids, most of them are dumb kids. I can't take it personally when they don't do their homework or come to class unprepared or don't like me because I give them detention. That old break-up line "It's not you, it's me"? Well, you gotta stop thinking it's you! You are only responsible to yourself, and if someone doesn't call you back or takes two days to email you or whatever, you have to be rational. You haven't always done something wrong. Tell yourself THEY are missing out and move on!

7. And finally, be positive! When someone asks, "How's it going?", stifle that urge to whine or complain. Smile and tell them how great you feel and how awesome things are. Don't be a "Debbie Downer". I firmly believe that you should "fake it till you make it"- if you aren't feeling confident, then pretend you are! The more positive you feel, the better you will feel about yourself. I promise!

I hope this list has helped! In the comments, I want you to practice one of my steps, okay? And if you want to read more about my personal journey with self-esteem and confidence, here are some links to my favorite posts!

Posts about confidence:

Curves, Confidence, and Criticism
Oh, Say Can You See
Constructive Criticism 


Eileen said...

You are awesome, and beautiful, and I love seeing your smiling face on my newsfeed!

ashleigh said...

Those are lovely suggestions! My Mother told me (and still does) everyday that i'm beautiful. I know for some people that wouldn't make a difference but for me it does. Even on my "gross" days she sees what I can't. I think if you find that one person that makes you feel beautiful, you start to believe it too.

DonnaC said...

WOW. Just wow. I need to print out this post, and hang it up where I will read it every single day. You are awesome!

Sharon S said...

This is such a great list! Your confidence comes through in every single post!

The Tiny Heart
$50 Target Giveaway!

Mari Crawford said...

Thank you! Loved this post! I'm going to print it out too! And I love your shoes! I'm gonna start with #3. I just came out of a horrific pregnancy and had the baby 2 months ago, but I honestly haven't had a hair cut in over 6 months! I'm going to start by taking better care of myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

Pepper Fusco said...

I love that dress! Hoping to get it from GB soon. Great shoes too. Excellent post!

Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen said...

What a wonderful post, gosh I didn't think I could adore you any more than I already did!!

Kathy Haynes said...

I love your dress and shoes! You look great!

Feathers & Freckles said...

What a unique dress! Love that print. And your confidence is awesome! I think I will always struggle with taking things personally, but the older I get I'm noticing I care less what others think ;)

Selah said...

Regarding #7 - I understand what you mean about being positive, but I think it is important to have a few people that you can be completely honest with. I try to be positive and "put on a happy face" for most people, but with my husband, and sometimes my mom and a few girlfriends, I have to let that guard down and be vulnerable and honest.

Tara_St said...

Such great advice! And a great dress! One more thing I like to add is to pick something everyday you like about yourself and focus on that. If you're having a good hair day...don't focus on the fact that you forgot to put on mascara or you hate the color of your shoes.

Penniless Socialite
April Group Giveaway!

Tracy Faber said...

LOVE this! How is it SO hard to take a compliment?? You are gorgeous and thank you! :)

April Brown said...

I don't know if you realize how influential you are. This dress is on sale at Lands' End right now. It was in my shopping bag to order this afternoon. I had to deal with some student issues and couldn't order it right away. By the time I had time, 15 minutes later it was out of stock and now you can't find the print at Lands' End. incredible!!!

You look fabulous in it.

Sonia Sqrrl said...

Fantastic advice!!!

Hailey said...

Awesome advice fro people of all ages! And this dress is great! It makes me want to go to Greece.

Tashia @HipsandHangers said...

Fantastic post, Katie! You've always been one of my favorite bloggers because of your frankness about your struggles with body image/ confidence.

That dress is adorable. I will be adding it to my GB closet for sure:)

MsPeachPlus said...

I love #1! I am the worst at taking compliments. I recently made a noticable change and knew my coworkers and children would give compliments. I decided to just thank them instead of have a backstory or side comment. It felt nice to just keep it simple and soak in the kind words!

zendegy said...

you, miss, are wise beyond your years. i say amen, amen to every one of your pieces of advice. i would add 'fake it till you make it'. lame and trite, but very true. when i got to college, i decided i wanted out of my self consciousness and decided to act like the people i saw who seemed so free of it. this led to lots of positive feedback which truly helped to set me free.
i compliment liberally, as i know that even the loveliest woman is my sister and is burdened by the pressures we put on women to meet unrealistic standards of beauty.
just LOVE your blog!!!!

zendegy said...

isn't that an awesome benefit of aging?!?! not caring too much really sets you free. :o)

Webster1 said...

I happened across your blog when I googled "fashionable clothes plus size"! What a gem. Lover your pic (little black dress with turquoise accessories) and that led me to check out your blog. I have been struggling with weight all my life. Now that I am in an executive position, finding nice, well made clothes that are not matronly and not outrageously overprice has been....exhausting.

That said, your post on confidence is spot on. And learning how to take a Thank you.

Hems for Her, a.k.a. Katie said...

Well now you've really got me blushing! I seriously think we are soul sisters :)

Hems for Her, a.k.a. Katie said...

Thank you for commenting, and for finding my blog! You are right and searching for clothes- I will sometimes spend hours online looking for clothes. Have you heard of Gwynnie Bee? It's a rental place for plus size clothes, and that's what I wear in most of my posts- including this one and the black dress one!

Hems for Her, a.k.a. Katie said...

I totally meant to include "fake it till you make it" because I agree 1000%! I tell my students this at least once and week.

amandadear said...

Amen sister! You really got it going on. You inspire me. Keep it up!

Melissa said...

Oh hon, I feel ya on the acne! I developed it when I was 11 years old and at nearly 30 it's still a battle. I have cried and prayed and begged and pleaded and smeared all kinds of weird stuff on my face (some of which gave me horrible allergic reactions!) all in the name of wishing I had perfect skin. Well, after this long, I'm finally reaching a point where I'm not letting the acne define me any more. It's just there. It's not who I am. Do I like it? Nope, not one bit. But I'm less self-conscious of it nowadays.

I love what you said about taking compliments. It can be too easy to put ourselves down and we just need to knock it off! We are beautiful!

And YOU are beautiful. Your confidence in yourself and your courage to share your story is inspiring and I really enjoy reading your blog. :-)

Brynn said...

Oh, Katie. I needed this post today. I've always struggled immensely with self-esteem and acceptance. I constantly compare myself with others to measure up my worth. I'm really trying to work on it, but I definitely notice it creeping back in once in a while. I think in some regards, blogging has helped me (dressing my body better, meeting other people) but in other ways, I still struggle (particularly with comparing my body/clothes/budget/personality/beauty to other bloggers). Your tips are perfect, and like I said, exactly what I needed to hear today. I have a small handful of favorite bloggers who can always cheer me up, make me think, and encourage me to better myself. YOU are at the top of my list. Thank you for always inspiring me!

grownandcurvywoman said...

Such a wonderful post! So real and honest! Learning to love one self is such a hard job when it should be the easiest. Such a shame our society is backwards like that.
This dress is of one of your best (there are so many!). The print is awesome, like you!

AJ said...

What a fantastic post. I really need to work on #4, 6 and 7. Thanks for the reminders ;-)


Audrey @ Putting Me Together said...

Beautiful post, Katie. I love that you are writing about this and empowering and encouraging women everywhere. And this is great advice!

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