Ever since the 7th grade, not a day goes by for me where I don’t hear someone, girl or boy, say something along the lines of “Why am I so dumb?” or “Haha look at his shoes..what is he wearing?” Recently I’ve begun to wonder why we constantly make remarks similar to these. Why do we constantly put ourselves down, and drag others with us in the process? I’ve come to realize that there is a growing lack of self-confidence in teens, especially females. Self-confidence is a feeling of trust and belief in your judgement, decisions, and abilities. It is important in virtually every aspect of our lives, yet saddeningly, a large majority struggle to find it within them.
The leading cause of this decline in self confidence is unrealistic social norms. We all get lost in the nuances of what we’re “supposed” to be, and what we’re “supposed” to be doing, and once we come to the realization that we’re not all of those things, the weight comes crashing down on us. We start to deprecate ourselves, telling ourselves we’re not enough. At anything. That we’re not trying hard enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough. Everyone in our society gets so caught up in these “expectations” for ourselves, that we start to lose grip on what really matters. Especially in a society like ours, we let every tiny mishap affect us significantly. Getting a B in one class will not cause your death, and don’t let anyone tell you it will. 10 years in the future, it won’t matter if we took 10 AP classes or if we took 8 AP classes. It won’t matter if we wore Brandy Melville jeans or if we wore Children’s Place jeans. Will it affect us? Likely. But what will matter, is if we are happy. And how do we become happy? We become satisfied. Satisfied with our choices, our life-style, our looks, and all in all, we become satisfied with our lives. We need to start to tell ourselves, whether it be every hour, or everyday, that it simply does not matter what others think. Rather than doing us any good, it only forces us to carry an unnecessary burden on our shoulders.
By saying this, I am not implying that you should not try hard at school or that you shouldn’t care about your appearance. I am a teenager in high school. I hear all the things people say about others. Gossip and dirty insults being thrown at everyone, staining everyone's reputations. I understand that it is hard to feel love for yourself when people are constantly trying to bring you down. I understand that it causes you to question things about yourself and you wonder why people say such nasty things. I too wonder the same thing. If someone is talking about you behind your back, it is likely to make up for their own lack of self-confidence. It’s a vicious cycle, really. People who struggle to find self-love try to acquire it by destroying others’ confidence, and then that person goes on to do the same thing. But go on and be the one to break the cycle. If someone comments on the way you look, be the one to tell them off, and walk away with your confidence levels steady, if not even higher than they were before. And more importantly, don’t be the one to tear others down. If you think another boy or girl looks better than you today or is better than you at a subject at school, don’t worry about it! Tell the person how amazing they are and maybe even make a friend out of it, rather than throwing disrespectful comments at them to better your own self-esteem. You do NOT have to be #1 at everything, nor anything, to be considered amazing, beautiful, and inspiring.
There was one incident in which the importance of self confidence really shined for me. My friends and I are all a fairly close-knit group. We took a fun trip to Great America over the summer, and it just so happened that day, that the sun was scorching hot. One of my friends had on a pretty short romper and we all seemed to notice it. Another friend pointed it out to her, and said, “Hey, why is your romper so short, you’re showing off too much.” Most people would be discomforted by the comment and pull their clothing item over to cover up, however my friend responded, “It’s hot outside, so I will wear something short. I feel confident in it, so it’s none of your business, and if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t look.” We were all taken aback by her response, but my level of respect for her increased exponentially throughout that day. I believe that this is the level of self confidence that we should all strive to achieve.
Self confidence has so many benefits to our lifestyles aside from pure happiness. The more confident you are, the more risks you’re willing to take in life. Taking risks may lead to some of the most memorable moments of our lives, and opens up a whole new world of opportunity awaiting us. Additionally, the more confident you are, the less anxious you will be. Anxiety is usually caused by disbelief in our abilities to do something right. Having that confidence will, for lack of better wording, melt the heck out of your anxiety. And of course, most importantly, self-confidence is directly linked to happiness. For a majority, our happiness is based off of how good we feel about ourselves. Having confidence in yourself will lead you down the path to a better, more joy-filled life.
Lastly, there will always be people who say things about us. Just remember, as cliché as it sounds, that their words will only hurt you if you let them. The message here is to try your hardest to succeed. It doesn’t matter if others tell you that you’re not “trying hard enough” if you know that you are. Take the number of AP classes that you are comfortable with. Look the way you want to look. Dress the way you feel confident. You can express yourself how you want to. Whether it be through your clothing, your makeup/lack of makeup, your social media, your talents, or anything else you’d like it to be. For god’s sake, wear a bright orange jumpsuit to school if you feel confident in it! Whatever you may do in life, do not let others take away your confidence and individuality, because that in and of itself, is the key to happiness and success.
Post written by guest writer Sanjita Pamidimukkala