As a shy and insecure girl, I know that those traits have totally hindered me. Combined with an acute case of social anxiety, they made my adolescence and most of my college years a horrific blur of self doubt and thwarted potential – from missing out on friendships to not applying to the colleges I really wanted to go to for fear of rejection and/or starting my life from scratch. While being terrified to order in restaurants or raise my hand in class were definitely impediments, my social life suffered the most. I always sucked at making friends – I never thought I was worthy of the company of the girls I admired and that stopped me from pursuing or encouraging overtures. Even after finally forging platonic bonds, talking to guys always paralyzed me. It was such that the first guy who ever deigned to kiss me drunkenly admitted that he usually found me intimidating and unapproachable.
I didn’t realize that I was coming across this way, and it made me re-evaluate my thoughts and my behavior. Eventually, with time and concerted effort to change my thinking, I started to become more comfortable around dudes, thus increasing the frequency of sexy time occurrences. Gaining confidence can be such a struggle, but you can totally do it.
1. Identify what it is that is holding you back the most – then get over it. For me, my anxiety was inextricably linked to the idea that I was boring to talk to and not attractive enough (which really meant that I’m not a candidate for class clown and I couldn’t be a model). Instead of accepting myself for who I was, I was comparing myself to ideals that I could never achieve, that aren’t even necessarily “better” than the traits I already possessed. So I talked myself into liking my more subtle, dry sense of humor and my less conventional aesthetic. Whatever thing that you’re self-conscious about is probably not that detrimental, and is likely to be considered something awesome by someone else.
2. Put yourself out there. If you tend to be shy, you probably end up declining more invites than accepting. But the only way to get comfortable with being yourself around other people is to be yourself around other people. Even if it’s awkward – in fact, especially if it’s awkward. Dealing with that head-on is the best way to get past it. Whether it’s tagging along to a house party or speaking up in group projects, get comfortable with being yourself around strangers or people who may intimidate you. Eventually, it will become a lot less nerve-wracking. I definitely noticed a marked difference in the way I was able to talk to guys I found attractive after successfully interacting with people in general without metaphorically falling flat on my face.
3. Stop thinking passively. I used to always think of dating and sex in a really passive way. I was just waiting around for guys to notice me and realize how great I was, but I never a) approached them or b) stopped to think about the fact that guys needed to earn my approval, not just the other way around. I know, it’s still socially acceptable to wait for the guy to ask you out, but really, you’re not going to get far in life if you’re not willing to go after what you want. More importantly, don’t ever forget that guys need to live up to your standards just as much as you want to live up to theirs. Don’t fall into the trap that any attention is good attention, because that is most certainly the case.
Confidence is all about how you choose to perceive yourself. It’s about being aware of all the great qualities you bring to the world, and being comfortable with all of your flaws. It doesn’t need to be brash and blatant – people can definitely sense quiet and subtle assurance. More importantly, being confident will give you the courage to live your life the way you want to.
[Lead image via Petr Malyshev/Shutterstock]