Finding Self-Confidence

Good morning, everyone.

April kicked me a lot so I wanted to drop in to say hello. I know I am not the only one who faces setbacks or hits a rough patch in life and as much as I share motivating things, I want to be honest I don’t have perfect days either. I’ve talked a lot less about those as my writing has progressed, but it has been a journey to be confident in the face of setbacks and disappointments.

Year after year, I’ve worked on finding self-confidence. I admired more confident peers in high school and when I went to Florida Southern College, one of my goals was, “To be more confident.” Even during my career as a Marine, I didn’t feel confident in my abilities. One of my best achievements was beating the perfect run time (as a woman) for the 3-mile run section of the physical fitness test; the perfect time was 21 minutes and I ran that test–and the only time I managed to do so–with a run time of 20 minutes and 15 seconds.  I had been a good runner in high school but never managed to be a top performer in my track event or cross country, but I wasn’t as content with my perfect Marine Corps run time for as long as I hoped I would be. Instead, I beat my self up for being a poor performer in the other Marine Corps skills areas, like the fact I was never able to improve my marksmanship skills from marksman to sharp shooter. In my current role as grad student, I get nervous each week I have a paper due because I want to do exceptionally well. I still find it hard to feel like I will succeed on that weekly assignment although I completed my first grad program with a 3.96 GPA and I have a 3.95 in my current program.

My nagging insecurity is why I reach out for self-improvement/reference materials and look for new tools to accomplish what seems insurmountable or to carve out a different routine because I know no one else can cure me of bad habits.

Oddly enough, as much as social media gets a bad wrap, I constantly find motivational sentiments on Instagram that I hoard in collections on my profile. I love knowing other souls want to spread good messages out into the world and it doesn’t matter that we may never meet. The things people choose to share reveal a lot about them, whether we are talking about filtered or unfiltered content. This reality is something that speaks me, particularly as I come to the conclusion of my current class and I’ve spent this last week sitting down with the idea that knowledge is a global public good.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 10.20.17 AM.png

On an individual and global level, we all experience some traumatic or discomforting events in our lifetimes that alter our worldview. We might become more timid, angry, disillusioned, or ambitious as a result of these circumstances or the people that bring these events to our lives. I know, for me, one of the biggest problems has been letting go of failures and failed personal connections. I do not like when I’ve faced rejection in the workplace or people who treat me like what I ask from them is too much. I am the person who—although it’s taken me years–jumps in with both feet. I have struggled to find my voice and to use it. Now that I am more confident in my abilities, I am more open in what I share and to the audience(s) I share my thoughts.

Shedding the insecurities that harm my self-confidence has not been easy.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 10.21.01 AM

It’s taken a lot to realize people who treat me poorly or who cannot compromise do not reflect my self-worth. Everyone has his or her own hangups that can hinder their ability to live an awesome life or to treat others with the utmost respect deserving of their person. My ventures into graduate school in 2014 and again in 2017 have taught me I do not want to compromise on my goals or lifestyle to make others feel more secure in who they are. I do not want their negative comments to creep into my mind and make me feel unworthy. I also do not want any rejection I’ve ever faced to keep me from self-improvement. When I lost out on job opportunity after job opportunity in 2012, I felt no one would ever hire me or if so, it would almost be a fluke. That thought process did a great disservice to my efforts to earn dual Bachelor’s degrees and to perform well on all the jobs I had done up until that point in my life. I should not be my worst critic and I say the same thing to you.

Whatever bad things you say to yourself internally or aloud are things you need to stop repeating.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 10.21.25 AM.png

Yes, there are a lot of things outside of our control, but there are many more things we can control that we do not give ourselves credit for and which we should. Each day we wake up represents a fresh opportunity. We can get in better shape. We can attempt a new hobby. We can seek out new income earning opportunities or accrue more responsibilities within our organizations or communities because we desire for these areas to be more appealing. We can add loved ones to our families or add friends–true companions, not superficial relations–to our support network.

This blog–and the time I’ve invested in it–represents a bigger change to who I am as a person than I expected it would when I took the baby steps into writing for a public audience; it’s shown me how I’ve been developing personal confidence over nearly a five-year period. It shown me what I can accomplish by reaffirming I am worth continual investment and I should ignore anyone who naysays my personal projects. It’s shown me I can learn from tragedy and rejection. It’s shown me I am an educator although I do not wear the professional title. It’s reminded me, more importantly, I must nourish who I am before I can serve others. In this last way, I’ve also learned there are times when I must cut back on my writing commitments. I used to feel so guilty about not being a consistent blogger but I am more confident now less posts but more substantial posts speak more to who I am and what I find meaningful.

In referencing writing, I didn’t have the heart this past month to contribute significantly to my Iraq memoir. The month become a period of personal reflection and I’ve had to remind myself to be grateful for the things that did not pan out. These realities gave me life lessons of what not to accept in my life and brought other people into my life I would not have otherwise known. I’ve met so many people who accept me, quirks and I, and who respect the pace with which I tackle personal and professional goals. I have also grown in confidence because I learned I was standing in my own way. I learned, day by day, I could stop harming my own progress and this past month was a reminder I’ve gone through this process more than once. Each time I start to let doubt creep in, I can also kick it right back out the door.

April may have been a disappointment but I have many more days, months, and years ahead to shake it off. I also have the power to appreciate today for what it is and who I am in this moment.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 10.48.05 AM

See you next month, and stay motivated!