Yesterday at the car show I met this older woman (probably in her 40's) who was very spunky and ditzy. She was wearing a great little dress and boots and kind of acted like she was in college or high school, but she was very nice to befriend me as I know no one in this town. Anyway, she was talking about how when she was younger she used to be very shy and how nowadays she is taking life into her hands; when she wants something, she goes after it.
It's a shame to me that it takes us so long to come to this realization in life. We spend far too many years worrying what others think and being timid and shy. I think that is time wasted for us. Some people are naturally take-charge kinds of people, but for the rest of us it seems to take years to figure out (if we ever figure it out at all). Sometimes I think girls (especially- though not exclusively) place their confidence in their boyfriend and when they lose him, they feel like they lose everything. It shouldn't be that way. You should always feel like you are enough on your own.
Focus on your strengths-
After I lost my job this spring, my mom thought I should figure out what my strengths were and build on those. We got this book called "Strengths Finder" which gives you access to a website where you can take a quiz to find out your biggest strengths. The main idea behind the book is that we should spend less time focusing on trying to fix our weaknesses and more time developing our strengths. This way you aren't constantly thinking about how you are inadequate in an area, rather, you are in a constant state of building yourself up. I think this is key in being a more confident person. As girls, we are told that we have these problem areas that need to be fixed. Instead, I think we should look at our biggest assets and accentuate them. Both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. God gave us our talents and abilities for a reason. I think it's a much better use of your time to focus on what God gave you instead of what he didn't.
The other day I heard someone say "90% of what you worry about never happens." What a waste of time, right? We worry about the silliest things sometimes. Most of what we worry about, we don't even have control over anyway- so why worry about it? Worrying won't change the outcome, it will just make you more miserable in the meantime. Instead of worrying, think about what you can do to effect a positive outcome, and if you can't do anything, stop thinking about it. Do something constructive with your time to keep your mind off of it. Go out with friends, be with family, watch a movie, draw- do something.
Don't blame others-
Don't get caught up making excuses or blaming other people for what happens to you in life. As long as you continue to feel like a victim you will never move forward. You will always be looking into the past to see who wronged you to keep you from being who you want to be and doing what you want to do. Don't feel sorry for yourself that you have obstacles to overcome. Every person has their own different obstacles in life. Successful people look beyond obstacles and don't let hardships get in the way of their lives. In fact, they often use the strengths they gained from those hardships to help them through life. Never let someone keep you down because of your family, your money situation, your gender, your race, your looks, etc. And if they want to stand in your way, don't think that they owe you something because they tried to make you into a victim. The greatest victory you can gain is by proving them wrong with your success.
If you want something, go for it! If you know you want a job, apply. Want to be a politician? Run for office! If you want your art to be shown at a local coffee shop, ask the owner. If you want to dress a certain way, do it. Don't let fear of failure or fear of what others will think or say keep you from your own happiness. This is your life, no one else's. Don't let anyone else dictate what you can and can't do in your life. I love the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, "Well behaved women rarely make history." And don't dumb yourself down or make yourself more shy because you're afraid boys will be intimidated and won't like you. The right guy will love your intelligence, drive, and fearlessness. Dumbing yourself down will make both of you unhappy in the long run. Take hold of your life and be who you want to be and do what you want to do.
Don't expect to not make mistakes-
You will make mistakes. Trying to live life to avoid mistakes will make your life so much less fulfilling than it could be. Don't be foolish, of course, but take risks. Put yourself out there. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them and your life will be richer for it. Keep trying. The most successful people in the world became successful by making mistakes. Your favorite photographer probably took hundred of photos just to get your favorite photo just right. Actors and actresses endured hundreds of turned down auditions just to get their famous role. Your favorite author probably sent his or her manuscript to many publishers before one of them would publish the book. Mistakes aren't the end of the road, they're just part of it.
So don't let anyone else tell you what you can or can't do. You are the only person in charge of your life. Make it what you want to be.