It’s my birthday today (!), otherwise known as the one day a year I get to force my friends do what I want, where I want and they can’t complain (to my face, at least). I’ve never been one to hide under the covers in a delusional attempt to avoid the aging process, but I can’t say that I’ve always anticipated the day with the same enthusiasm that I have for attacking a bowl of pasta.
Like most people, I viewed the departure from my idealized 20s with the same dread reserved for the last day of vacation. It’s society’s cut-off time for what is considered “youth” but you know what goes hand-in-hand with oh-so-pretty youth? Stupidity. It would’ve been more apt if Michael Jackson had made the title of his song "Pretty Dumb Thing" (instead of "Pretty Young Thing") but the abbreviation doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily as "PYT". In honour of my birthday, I would also accept "Pretty YEUNG Thing" (ahha thanks Ruvena!).
Generally speaking, I can’t imagine there’s anyone out there who can deny having done unspeakably stupid things that they blame on immaturity. Things like getting way too emo on their MySpace page, creating email addresses like "foxXxy_chick" or "budweiser_queen007", and dating a sk8rboi (jkjk!). That is unless they’re filthy liars who’d claim the proverbial kettle is charcoal, not black. It’s all shades of the same Pantone, buddy (excuse my graphic designer humour).
When I transitioned into my third decade of life, the world didn’t implode and I didn’t age in double time like the cute couple in Pixar’s UP. What DID happen is I slowly started giving less fucks about what other people thought about me. I became more selective of who I spent my time with. Instead of letting negative things drag me down, I let the positives lift me up. I stopped bemoaning all the ways I didn’t conform to the norm and began embracing the ways I was different. Most importantly, my sense of self came into sharper relief, providing a solid foundation for confidence to flourish.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight. I didn't go to sleep insecure at 29 and wake up at 30, suddenly self-assured. The more I learned about who I really was, confidence began to cloak me like a mist before steadily sinking into my skin and taking up residence deep in my bones, straightening my spine so I stood a little taller. I could breathe more easily than I ever had. My lungs pushed out all the stale air and I gradually let go of a breath that I hadn’t even been aware that I was holding. I stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop because I realized that other people weren’t holding the shoe, I was. And if anyone dared to disrupt my newfound internal zen? I had high-heeled ammunition ready to aim at their heads.
Real confidence – that kind that is independent of the opinions or perceptions of others – is derived from having a firm understanding of who we are. Not the mask that we show the world or the quirky caricature that we’ve constructed for mass consumption that likes bespoke whisky and disdains social media (while still maintaining an active online presence) but rather our steadfast values and beliefs. Our true selves have the answers to the question “What in this life is the most important to you?”.
The corniest sayings are the ones that are repeated frequently and often because they're true. They say that everything you need is inside of you and while that's true, it doesn't mean that it doesn't require some digging to excavate the gems that make up who you are. Self discovery spans a lifetime but over the last couple of years I've found some tools that have been integral to the self-awareness I’ve achieved up to this point.
Here are 3 Things You Can Do Today To Cultivate True Confidence:
We have a whole language to label the things that are “wrong” with us – sociopath, narcissistic, obsessive compulsive, the list goes on… but what about what is RIGHT about us.
Don Clifton invented StrengthsFinder, a web-based assessment of positive psychology that measures people’s strengths, primarily to empower people and to assist management to assemble the most successful teams in the world. It can be really helpful because while we may understand ourselves subconsciously in an abstract way, having it articulated provides clarity that shows us a path forwards.
02/ Love Language
Relationships are an integral to our happiness so it’s important to know how we interpret love and how to show it to our partners to avoid a disconnect. Love Language doesn’t refer to some hippie-dippie words that are actually spoken aloud but but the way in which we prefer love to be expressed to us.
Imagine that your partner’s Love Language is Quality Time so they’re expressing their love by spending the day with you but yours is Acts of Service. It’s like they’re speaking Russian when you only speak French! You need to show them love the way that they understand and vice versa therefore you need to be aware of what YOUR Love Language is to be able to articulate it to your partner.
03/ Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
This personality test gets a lot of flack because results can vary slightly each time they take it but we’re not immutable like a table that never evolves. With each experience we have, our personality shifts WITH us. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) measures our core values, how we relate to and perceive the world, and provides insight that can be crucial to improving major aspects of our lives like relationships and career.