QUESTION | Since my sophomore year of college, I have had a lot of anxiety and insecurities about things that didn’t use to bother me before college. For example, I sometimes feel insecure about my height, but I used to embrace being short. I could be walking across campus to get food, and I get nervous because I think and feel that others are judging me (my clothes hair, height, etc.). Also, I have always been a shy person, but lately, I’ve been extremely nervous in even the smallest/shortest social interactions. (This may be surprising since I grew up and was raised around a lot of other kids). College is considered the time at which you are supposed to break out of your shell and experience new things, but I feel like I’m moving backward. Any tips on how I can boost my confidence and ease my anxiety? – Briana
AESHIA’S ADVICE | | It’s easy to feel a lack of confidence in college. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a weird look you received from a student while walking across campus or feeling afraid to speak up around a group of your peers, college is something that naturally causes anxiety for more students than you’d think. Confidence is something that is had by few but desired by all. Whether it’s physical or social, there are ways to cope with anxiety and boost your confidence so you can get the best out of your college years. Follow these 6 practical tips inspired by our PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT Pledge:
1. I will stay strong even when life becomes challenging.
Why not shift your perspective and think positively about your social interactions with others and treat each situation as a challenge, or even a game? Award yourself points for speaking up in class, giving a stranger a compliment, or holding your head high and giving a friendly smile to anyone that you feel is judging you. Come up with benchmarks that would take you from “shy” to “confidence queen” and give yourself small rewards upon completion. The possibilities are endless to build your confidence.
2. I will not compare myself to others because I am unique.
It’s time to be proud of your culture, beliefs, and values. Knowledge is a great way to feel empowered. Talk to your family members, head to the library, or go on the web, and do some research on your family history. In addition, write down a list of your personal values. Once you truly understand who you are – comparing yourself to others will go away and your confidence will skyrocket. When you start embracing your identity and being true to yourself, that’s when authenticity comes through. Authenticity is magnetic, and the attention you’ll receive will build confidence.
Fake it ’til you make it! Correcting the way you carry yourself will instantly make you look more confident. If your body language says you’re poppin’, no one can tell that you’re not. The nagging voice in your head could be screaming that you don’t belong, but if your spine is straight and your head is up, it makes it harder for anyone else to sense your fears.
Working out, eating healthy, and getting a good night’s rest are also great ways to make you feel good about yourself. When you are healthy and fit, you are more likely to feel self-confident, boost your energy and reduce your stress levels. Become a member to “level up” your health journey.
3. I will surround myself with positive people.
Get Support from family friends or seek professional help from a counselor on campus. It’s great to have someone be there to listen. You’re not the only one dealing with social anxiety. In a recent study, 50% of college students felt overwhelming anxiety. Find two or three positive, supportive, and friendly people who can relate to you and help you come up with solutions for your problems. Then, make a point of reducing and eliminating your interactions with the negative people in your circle of friends. They are the ones who tear you down and make you look bad, in order to make themselves look good. You don’t need them. Chuck up the deuces!
Volunteering will also help boost your confidence. Visit the nearest community health center, help out at a local school, or serve meals at a homeless shelter. Brightening someone’s day and seeing them smile will do you some good.
4. I will not be intimidated by others.
In social situations, anxiety often has you focus on yourself – the way your hair looks, how your voice sounds, where to put your hands, etc. Focus on what is actually going on around you (the setting, the color of the eyes of the person you’re speaking with, etc.) to get rid of that inner voice creeping in with defeating messages: “You’re too short,” “Everyone is cooler than you,” “You’ll never get them to like you.” Don’t listen! Try reminding yourself that you’re awesome and others would be lucky to call you their friend. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Don’t give up your power.
5. I will take on new opportunities with confidence.
You’re right. College is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and do the things that you’re most afraid of. Be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. Things may not always go as planned but if you think of each failure or mistake as an opportunity to learn, you’ll start moving forward instead of backward. Nothing in life worth having comes easily. Think of all the other challenges you have had to overcome, how you learned from your mistakes, and now you’re here! Celebrate that win. Confidence can build heavily on memory – if you lack confidence in a new opportunity or a new environment, remember what got you there in the first place.
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