Acting, speaking, and behaving confidently is a goal I have set for myself over the years. In many ways, I have moved the needle forward on this goal. I have learned to take risks, speak up, make eye contact, and sit at the table. Mostly, I have given up old habits of overly apologizing and constantly seeking approval.
These behavioral changes helped improve my outward appearance of confidence, but the greatest change came from overcoming some really big challenges. Confidence came when I had to take care of a six-month old baby without being able to walk or drive. Confidence came when I stepped out of my house and accepted that I may never return to it. And confidence came when I worked every night and weekend for three years to earn my Ph.D.
These were three of the most challenging times of my life, but I was also completely in the zone. When I broke my foot and had to take care of my infant for months while on crutches, I was completely focused on my family. I was in survival mode. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. When I left my unhealthy marriage and gave up most of my possessions, I was raw. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I only knew that I was moving forward and never back. When I completed my Ph.D. while working full time, I didn’t have time to worry or be self-conscious. I was too absorbed to listen to naysayers.
It was in these times that my confidence grew. It was like ivy. It creeped and climbed until it was so prolific that I could not contain it. It was so beautiful and full that people noticed it. All I was doing was living and breathing, but I was also thriving. I was alive and in the moment. I wasn’t overthinking or analyzing. I was acting and responding.
We are most confident when we lose our egos and show up as our authentic selves; when we have a goal or purpose that comes from our core values; and when we are completely present and focused.
I am thankful those times have passed, but I’m even more thankful that I had them. My ivy plant is still alive and well.