Confidence is weird.
A feeling and attitude that should come from inside is all too often attached to other people’s perceptions of you. It’s almost as if you have no right to feel confident about yourself unless you’ve received the nod from a large group of your peers. Unless you get a standing ovation or a certain amount of likes on your social media post, then you need to dim that smile because obviously there’s nothing you should be feeling happy about.
I’m not ridiculing the society that lives this way; I’ve been the same way for the longest time now. I was teased overly for things that I am unable to change. My most demeaning factor was the shade of my skin. Being ridiculed for being dark by family, friends, teachers and strangers got engraved on me. I couldn’t celebrate my beautiful smile, my high cheek bones or smooth skin because all I saw was how dark the skin I lived in was. So I held my head down, kept quiet so as to not draw attention to my ‘offensive ugliness’ and eventually started to remind myself of those horrible words years after they had been uttered or even remembered by the people who had said them.
The barrier behind which I had buried myself only started to lift when I found love. I couldn’t help staring at myself in the mirror trying to figure out what he saw in me that was so unlike what everyone else had seen before. I remembered my pretty smile and my brown eyes in the way he looked at me. And that ignited a fire in me that has been unstoppable.
Working out then added fuel to the fire as I created a body and image that I was responsible and would always stand up for. Fight me on something I can’t change and I might quietly back down, but I will always fight vehemently for that which I have worked hard. These two aspects of my life have helped me rebuild my confidence from the depths of Tartarus where it lay forgotten. And slowly, I’m learning that confidence comes from self-appreciation. When you start loving what you have, what you see and what you build for yourself, the idea that someone’s disapproval can take all of that away becomes foreign.
It’s always a process. More days than I’d like I still find myself contemplating on those words I grew up on. But I’m grateful that I’ve known love that has taught me to love myself.