Back in high school, I was involved in the drama club. I did a little acting, some set design, some lighting, and eventually ended up directing. I felt more comfortable behind the scenes rather than being in the spotlight. I looked at the other actors and saw their confidence. They appeared to be bolder and less self-conscious. I told myself I wasn’t good enough to do that and I faded into the background. From that time until recently, I have been more comfortable remaining hidden in the background. I didn’t like to be noticed and I was happy to stay quiet and watch everyone else. That has all changed and I am delighted to say that I’ve met someone new. She’s the one in the picture on the left.
As I’ve grown older, many of the past insecurities and beliefs I’ve held about myself have dissolved. I feel more secure about who I am and more confident about being that person. I look back and wonder what has changed. Is it just age? I have heard other people say that they feel more confident as they get older. Any change in life can cause us to reexamine who we are, i.e., divorce, marriage, having a baby, losing a loved one, getting a new job, going back to school, etc… When we are propelled into a new space, we look at who we are with new eyes. We may say to ourselves, “I don’t like who I am now,” or conversely, “I like this new me!” New situations can either bring out our best or our worst, but each situation is an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.
Coming into your own involves building your confidence and self esteem. While some people seem to have that right from the start, for many others it takes a good part of their lives to develop. When we listen to what others say about us, it can become a part of who we believe we are. When we are told we are good or bad, pretty or homely, talented or not, we begin to define ourselves with those parameters. We take the information we receive from others and it assimilate into our own beliefs. Having self-esteem is about believing in who you are and listening to your own voice. It happens when we realize what others think about us doesn’t matter. It is when we recognize our negative thoughts and take steps to change the words we say to ourselves that we really begin to blossom.
What can we do in the meantime?
Start practicing believing in yourself. Act “as if”. In other words, act as if you are now who you want to be in the future. I’ve used this strategy many times when applying for new jobs or when meeting new people. I act as if I have the confidence I want to have. Over time that practice will become a reality.
Get to know your inner voice. What are you saying to yourself? Listen to the messages you tell yourself. Once you are able to hear them then begin to separate yourself from them. Your stories are not who you are.
Learn from everything you do. Look at what has worked for you in the past and what has not worked. Change the mindset of failure to one of, “What did I learn from that? “
Build on each experience. Each time you become aware and learn something, incorporate it into your next step. Think of your life as a series of building blocks. Each block is an important piece towards building the finished product. Each block has meaning and a job to do. Treat each one with respect.
Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We are all a work in progress. The saying, “It’s not the destination, but the journey that’s important” is true. I see that more clearly now. I look back on the journey and see how much I learned and notice that I continue to learn something each day. It is all an exciting, important piece of the puzzle.
Don’t be too quick to label. By judging things as good or bad, we immediately start up the process of involving the mind and ego in making up a story. Take each moment as it comes and look at it with an open and non-judgmental mind. When we step back and look at the picture without judgment, we will see that there is so much more to it.
This weekend, I put on a costume and danced without any feelings of embarrassment. I tried the jitterbug, danced the twist and twirled around in my poodle skirt. It was liberating. It was nice to meet that person. I think I’ll keep her around.
Yours in transformation,