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Monday, April 11, 2016

Confidence in the face of Anxiety

There are lots of obstacles to maintaining confidence, not the least of which is mental health. I highly doubt there is a person spared some internal challenge--it seems to be a gift freely administered to all humankind--the unseen battles within. The internal challenges may vary in strength and duration from person to person, and may have different impact on one's self-view depending on the individual.

Continuing the series on confidence. 

I'm blogging today to say, yes. Yes, mental health is a challenge to personal confidence, but it doesn't have to be a permanent fence or shield keeping confidence at bay.

My biggest self-view challenge is anxiety.
I know I have high anxiety and that the smallest thing can set me off. I also know that my reactions, when in a high stress situation, probably lack all reason and common sense. Knowing this about myself affects my confidence. I can't trust myself in this situation and feel like I have to apologize for reacting to anything--having no idea if I'm within the normal reaction range or if I've crossed over into 'If you touch that it will blow up in your face and we'll all die!' when selecting food from a restaurant menu.

Over populated spaces, loud echoing noises, people whose laugh could be mistaken as crying, or losing track of where my kids are, are all major triggers for me. As a teenager I avoided party invitations, dances, large social gatherings--because I knew it made me feel crazy to be in those places, and it only got worse after having kids.

Having said all of this, I still consider myself to have a healthy level of confidence. I'm aware that I won't appear confident all the time. I know that I might even act like a lunatic--afraid of unidentified noises and too many faces packed in neon lit rooms. But, I know that those anxiety driven reactions aren't the sum of who I am.

There are many obstacles and challenges to maintaining confidence. What I'm proposing is that we don't have to be 100% confident at all times. I'm giving myself permission to be uncomfortable at times. To react to situations that make me feel crazy, and not let those situations control how I see myself (that's a major challenge for me).

It doesn't mean any of us has to assume we're lacking confidence, just because we struggle with something unseen.

For me: Anxiety isn't pretty, it also isn't the only thing I am. Confidence isn't a constant either.
Both are a part of who I am, and may vary in strength from time to time. It helps for me to recognize my limits, and remind myself that it's okay to be uncomfortable in certain situations.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Quiet Confidence

Most often when I hear ‘be confident’ it’s in reference to being outgoing.
I’m not always outgoing. I can be outgoing, but it drains me.
Also, it’s my belief that I don’t have to be outgoing to be confident.
I’m a fan of the quiet confidence that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Quiet confidence does not draw attention. I like to define it as
‘me being okay with the environment and where I fit in it’
If something in that environment changes, like an aggressive type personality, or say, someone telling me I need to be more outgoing, I might lose my feeling of comfort in the setting, and thus lose confidence in that environment.
Yes, my confidence is not fixed or set in concrete around my person.
I’m okay with that.
Being okay with not being constantly confident does something important for me:
I don’t have to sustain any given level of energy, which to me is the biggest thing.
I have permission to react to my environment.
I consider myself an ambivert personality, where I have the ability to be outgoing, but also need down time—lots of down time. Needing downtime, or quiet time—where there is no spotlight on me, nothing demanded of my energy level, does not diminish my confidence. It only means I need to recharge, and that’s a good thing for everybody.
Basically, there are lots of different kinds/versions/levels of confidence and no one is better or worse than the others.
Learn your type, and embrace it.
Like I say (but, admittedly Emma Stone says it better^^^)
Embrace your Quirks, Pursue your Talents. Don’t let anyone’s definition of confidence prevent you from being you.