Confidence is something had by few and desired by all. If you're someone who suffers from social anxiety, self-esteem issues, shyness, or anything similar, know that you're not alone. I've felt that way, too.
It's easy to feel a lack of confidence in college, where you're expected to be meeting all these new people and trying new things. For some of us, that's wildly intimidating. With that said, college is also the perfect place to grow your self-confidence. After all, confidence is not some unique trait had only by the lucky few who were born with it. Confidence can be practiced and learned by anyone, just like any other skill.
Today, I present to you a few steps for overcoming shyness and becoming more confident:
1. Fix your body language.
Stand up straight. Look straight ahead, not at the floor. Don't cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets. Don't lean on things. Take up space. If you're walking, even if it's just to the bathroom, walk with a purpose.
Correcting the way you hold yourself will instantly make you look more confident. The trick is to remember that if your body language says you're confident, no one can tell that you're not. You could be internally screaming that you don't belong somewhere, but if your spine is straight and your head is up, it makes it a whole lot harder for anyone else to sense your fears.
2. Talk to strangers.
You don't have to strike up long, amazing conversations with the person in front of you at the Starbucks line, but you can get there if you want.
Start with the small. Make a habit of giving out compliments to people you don't know - maybe that girl who sits behind you in lecture who has the most amazing bag, for instance. This is great because it boosts confidence in two ways. The stranger gets a compliment, and you get a little practice in speaking to someone you don't know.
This tricks also works because compliments don't feel awkward if they're the only thing said, so if you're just starting, your stranger-interaction can end after the "Thanks!" On the other hand, a compliment can be a window of opportunity to start a conversation. If you complimented their shirt, you can ask where they got it, or ask about the show/ band /game on it, and the conversation can continue from there. Remember that, like I said earlier, no one is thinking about how shy or awkward you feel on the inside, because no one can tell. Act confident and the conversation will go well!
3. Now, practice.
If you keep at it, you will eventually feel comfortable talking to anyone, but this isn't something that's going to happen overnight.
Keep on keeping on with the strangers, and if you hit it off with some, you can makes some friends! College is really the place to do it, because everyone's young and happy to meet new people. Even if they don't seem like it, most people are happy to have a chat, especially after getting a compliment.
Also, if you meet a few people who dismiss your attempts at friendliness, don't worry and don't let this discourage you. Simply move on to the next conversation and don't stress over it: Overcoming shyness and being confident does not mean that you will hit it off with every person you meet.
Confidence will come from what you learn from these interactions, that is, learning to be okay with being ignored, judged or rejected by people. Because what did that do to you? Absolutely nothing! Once you realize that other people's opinions of you have no effect on who you actually are, it will be infinitely easier to talk to and meet new people.
4. Believe in yourself. Tell yourself that you are confident.
This might seem a little cheesy, but I truly believe it helps. You've probably heard of the study that says if you fake a smile, it actually tricks your mind into thinking you are happier, and stress is reduced. The same concept applies here.
If you keep telling yourself that you are confident while doing the other tips, you will really start to believe it. Seriously. I know this will work for you if you give it a try - so get out there and start learning to be confident!
What do you think? Do you wish you were more confident? Would you strike up conversation with a stranger?