Gaining Confidence and Seeing it in Action

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

I’ve been thinking about confidence a fair amount lately. Without being able to pinpoint exactly how or when it started, I seem to be in possession of a lot more of it than I’ve ever had in the past.

I was very shy as a child, and striking up conversations with people I don’t know has never come easily to me. But things seem to be changing. It’s been a gradual process, but in the past year it’s something I’ve started to notice a lot more. I’m more comfortable initiating a conversation now, and not until later will I sometimes step back and say, “Whoa. Did I really just do that?”

There’s a guy at my gym I’ve wanted to speak to. We’ve caught each other’s eyes a few times and exchanged smiles, but that was it. Last week I was walking through the gym, tossing my water bottle from hand to hand, when he passed by me. He smiled, which caused the bottle to slip from my grasp and bounce on the floor. (He laughed, but in a nice way.) So I told him that maybe I wouldn’t be dropping water bottles if he wasn’t so much of a distraction. A few minutes later we ended up leaving the building at the same time. As we were walking across the parking lot and he was wishing me a nice day, I asked, “Are you ever going to introduce yourself?” I got another friendly laugh and we exchanged introductions.

A few people I’ve told that story to were genuinely shocked. People who have known me in real life for any length of time know this isn’t the way I normally act. For some reason, I always thought confidence was for other people.

What factors have brought about this gain in confidence? Feeling more comfortable with my body is a big part of it. And after not dating for a long time, spending time in a relationship last year showed me it’s okay (and fun) to be more open and uninhibited.

But really, I think most of it comes down to the saying: “What have you got to lose?” I’ve mentioned before how important it is to me that I minimize having any regrets about the way I’ve lived my life. Part of not having regrets is taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves (so you won’t ask yourself later, “What might have happened if I’d just…?”).

Taking a risk might involve making a phone call to someone simply because I was intrigued by their big green eyes. It might mean making a joke at the gym to cover the fact that I dropped a water bottle, while wearing minimal makeup, and sweating, and wearing my hair in a ponytail.

At times, taking a risk also means dealing with rejection. (Like maybe you think some guy is hot, and you ask that guy’s friend to scope out the situation for you. He comes back and says, “Yeah, well, not so much. He’s not feeling you. I have no idea why, because you’re attractive, and smart, and funny — but, yeah, that’s how it is.” So then you say, “You know what? That really sucks.”)

It really does suck to be rejected, but it happens to everyone. And I’d much rather have something like that happen than have no idea what that person is thinking. You’re wasting a lot of time and energy if you don’t know one way or the other. It makes things a lot simpler when people are honest and you know exactly where you stand.

How’s your confidence?

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