I've noticed that in a lot of peoples Resolutions this year, being more confident has been featured quite a bit. And it got me thinking about how it used to make it to the top of my list for a pretty long time. I like to think that as I've gotten older I've really grown as a person and so has my confidence compared to how I was when I was a teenager.
I'm very lucky in that I don't suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but I have always been a very nervous person, particularly around new people, to the point where I'd feel violently sick and often just leg it from what ever it was I felt uncomfortable about. When you're little, it's easy to just use "Shyness" as an excuse for why you can't bring yourself to look someone in the eye or only mumble a few words and people think it's cute. Unfortunately when you become an adult almost everyone just take it for arrogance or rudeness which makes you feel 100 times worse about yourself than you already did. At school I just avoided talking to people because I didn't know what to say and I often ended up saying something weird or inappropriate because I was so nervous. I ended up with people thinking I was weird anyway because I never said anything! But as you get older, you have to kind of just ... get over it. I know It's hard, believe me, my first day of college was terrifying and for about 2 weeks I don't think I said a word to anybody. But eventually, I realised that if I just shyed away from everyone the next 2 years were going to be miserable, and you know what? Those 2 years were some of the best I've ever had. Getting my first job, I was literally shaking because I was so afraid that I was going to fuck up, and yes I did have my moments but ... It made me realise that you can't go into the adult world and just curl up into a little ball. It doesn't work that way. The more you force yourself to talk to people, ask questions and do things that you don't think can do, the easier it gets. The worst thing that can happen is someone says "no" or you don't quite manage it. That's it. Nothing terrible, non of the scenario's you've been imagining in your head. It doesn't happen at the click of your fingers, I know that, if I can avoid asking a shop assistant for help or fix something myself then I will, I can't lie. But just know that if you have to do something then it will be ok.
In a way I think this also kind of works with body confidence. Today I went into town wearing a pair of leggings instead of big baggy jeans, and as silly as it sounds, it was big deal for me. From around the age of 10 I've been literally ashamed of my legs. I always thought they were too chubby, and because I never wore shorts they were, and still are, a lot paler than the rest of me which made me even more self conscious. I have Keratosis Pilaris all over my legs, which basically means hard skin follicles and they look like lots of little black heads. It's only recently that I found that out, and that they are extremely common. Before I thought I just had awful legs and people were always staring and judging me. I would bring my own track suit bottoms to P.E every day and get told off for "Forgetting" my shorts. But, this summer I bought some exfoliator and a light self tan and I rocked a whole bunch of shorts, skirts and dresses and honestly, it felt great. Those first few minutes after walking out the door I did panic, but after I realised no one was even looking my way I just enjoyed the sun.
The same goes for my hair. All through school I never wore my hair up because I was convinced my ears were too big, but when I got a job I had no choice. After a few weeks of looking in the mirror, I realised that my ears looked absolutely fine, in fact they're quite small. I even got told a few times that I looked good with it up. Now my hair is worn up almost every day, I just needed that little push to do it.
What I'm trying to say is to just stop being so scared about what people think or will think about you. It'll take time but you can do it. Just take a deep breath and start small. Wear a dress with tights, then buy see through tights and then just skip the tights all together. Do your presentation, or sing your song or read your poem and be proud of it. Yes, not everyone will like it, but I promise you you'll have a lot more support than you think you will. Take this year to bust out of your shell, even if it's only one toe at a time. You got this.