They say you’re at your least confident when you’re a teenager. However, when I was sixteen, I had glasses, spots and hair frizzier than I’d like to admit (I shudder just thinking about it), but I felt more confident in myself than I do at thirty-something. I never doubted my ability to do anything I set my mind to, whether it was getting the internship of my dreams, the flavour of the month I was crushing on at the time or nailing my upcoming Sociology exam. And more often than not, that positive thinking and self-belief helped me achieve my goals that seem so silly now, but were larger than life at the time.
Maybe it was because it was a simpler time back then, when we weren’t constantly second-guessing ourselves after comparing our lives to the likes of those we see on Instagram, where everyone always seems to be more successful, beautiful, well-travelled or happier than you are. It can be so easy to fall into a trap of thinking you’re not ‘good enough’ or not worthy of the things you want for your life by holding yourself to an impossibly high, yet unrealistic standard of somebody else’s highlight reel compared to your own ‘behind the scenes’.
Everybody has their down days, and while I’m all for indulging the odd one every so often, its important to not let them get the better of you, and to know how to pick up and move on when self-doubt or Instagram induced FOMO hits. Here are a few tried and tested tactics I’ve employed that help get me through those dreaded ‘bad hair days’ and make me feel like the sassy girl emoji again 💁🏽♀️
Detox your social media
Girl, I cannot tell you how much this changed my life. I was getting really down about the way I looked every time I followed a few girls with absolutely perfect skin and hair and bodies and, just, lives in general on Instagram. I mean, you’re smart enough to know that their lives (and their photos) are heavily edited, so why not just give them the boot once and for all and replace those accounts with relatable girls that keep it real? If you’ve been following them for a while, it can be difficult to let go. Trust me, I know. It almost feels like you know them personally, but you need to break the addiction now if you want to be introduced to positive, confident you.
I replaced all the size 0 bikini-clad girls with Facetuned AF skin and hair extensions with girls like Iskra Lawrence, Gabbi Gregg, Emma Ryan, Danielle Vanier, Anoushka Urban, Keiko Lynn and Felicity Hayward for real girl problems, relatable issues and more importantly, accounts promoting a healthy body image by girls who are too amazing on their own to care about being stick-thin or ‘perfect’. I also started Midsize Collective, which helped me massively with body confidence.
Accounts that post positive, relatable quotes can help a lot, too, as its always nice to see something either reassuring or uplifting in the morning. I absolutely love sitting down with my morning coffee and scrolling through posts by My Self Love Supply and Feel Good Club on Instagram.
Dress for the life you want
Life’s unexpected. A wonderful, brilliant opportunity that might just be the one you’ve been waiting for could be right around the corner. You might be at the supermarket and bump into an old friend who has heard there’s an opening perfect for you at her company or know just the right guy to set you up with. But will she be likely to do either of those things if you’re stumbling around in sloppy sweatpants with your hair in a bun? Probably not.
Nobody’s asking you to go all out all day every day, but a cute outfit, styling your hair and putting some makeup on will go a long way to making you feel better about yourself and put you in a positive frame of mind for all the opportunities that await you, since you’re now ready to tackle them head-on.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone
Easier said than done? Nope, not really. They say life begins outside your comfort zone for a reason. Nobody ever regrets being brave, and the confidence you’ll gain from conquering something you thought you couldn’t is unparalleled. For me, learning to drive was something I was terrified of after a car accident when I was 18. But I pushed myself (with a fair bit of pushing from James as well, to be fair) to take lessons from scratch and the feeling I got when I passed my test first time was absolutely exhilarating! Four months on, I still feel pretty awesome every time I do something small like drive to the supermarket because I know how hard I worked to achieve it.
Make these three lists
(a) A list of compliments people have given you this week / month
People are nice and more often than not, they have lovely, uplifting things to say about you, but we brush their compliments under the rug so quickly, they never really get a chance to register. At the end of the day, go home and make a list of every little compliment somebody paid you, whether its “I like your jacket” or “I can’t believe you aren’t wearing any foundation – your skin looks great!”
(b) A list of personal achievements you’re proud of
They could be as small as “I finally learned to cook spaghetti bolognese” or “I singlehandedly trained my two dogs who are very obedient and a joy to be around” or “I moved to a new country and started life over from scratch” or “300 people think I’m cool enough to follow on Instagram”. Think long and hard and put it all on there – no matter how trivial it may sound. Nobody’s going to read this but you, and trust me, we all need a little reminder of just how much we’ve achieved.
(c) A list of what you think your best assets are
Whether you think you have shiny hair, nice legs or a great smile, write down all your favourite physical attributes and then write down things like “I am a loyal friend”, “I’m fun to be around” and “I’m brilliant at crossword puzzles, which means I’m clever!”
Read them to yourself every morning when you wake up and then pop them in your handbag to read if you need a midday pick-me-up on the go.
Pack in a workout
As much as I hate to admit it, nothing makes me feel as good inside and out like a good workout. Not only will you feel better and more confident about your body, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you smash a workout goal. Plus exercise releases endorphins, putting you in a happier, more positive mood. Plus knowing that I care about myself enough to drag myself out to do a workout in the first place makes me feel like I’ve got my sh*t together and am winning at adulting.
And, of course, if all else fails, there’s always the tried and tested fool-proof formula of coffee, red lipstick and high heels, right?