Wisdom//

Confidence Matters

How an experience in judging others led me to reevaluating my own self worth.


Those red shoes she was wearing today were so ugly.

She’s not even smart. She’s so full of herself.

I still remember staring blankly at the computer screen and reading these thoughtless comments. I didn’t know why I still checked this website almost every day. I knew that people took their anonymity to mean that it was alright to make “honest” comments about others. I couldn’t understand why I felt such an inclination to open up my laptop and scour the latest remarks regarding my looks, attitude, or intellectual capacity.

I kept thinking that it shouldn’t hurt so much because I didn’t know the people who were saying these things.

Horrifyingly, I would wonder if I was improving. Why I should ever care about their judgement, whoever they were, never even crossed my mind. All I knew was I would read that I looked fat in my outfit that day, and make a note that I should skip dinner for a few nights.

The anonymity provided by this website made me feel exposed everywhere; I felt like I was constantly under scrutiny. Everywhere I went, I wondered if someone was observing me and taking note of things to criticize later.

It made me question myself. Strangely, I never blamed them; I only wondered what was wrong with me. I berated myself for wearing an outfit that made me look heavy; what was I thinking? I stopped talking to people in class, for fear that I was being annoying, and eventually I just stopped talking altogether. I wished that I could be pretty enough, athletic enough, smart enough, that they could find no fault with me. I never to thought that to just be me, was enough.

I blamed myself for the opinions of anonymous commenters on a trivial website. I was miserable at the time, but I know now that I couldn’t have grown without having this experience.

I began by asking myself to stop checking this website. At first, I felt my fingers itching to type in the all too familiar web address. I still wondered if the outfit I wore today was acceptable, still hoped that I had done well enough on my test, still wished I would be good enough for them.

And, sooner than I had thought possible, I found myself forgetting the people sitting in front of their computers, trying to tear away at me. I forgot those critics who would pick apart everything I did, and I forgot all the things I felt insecure about because of their critique. I remembered that I worked hard at school, and enjoyed my classes. I remembered that I was happy with my company, my traits, and my personality.

I remembered how much I loved those red shoes.

There are some things that you cannot change; the opinions of others fall into this category. And while our inability to affect certain things can be disheartening, it can also be so liberating.

I decided I could not expend any time or happiness on things I cannot change, and it gave me a sense of freedom and lightness that I had not experienced since the very first comment I read.

I asked myself, Do you think you are ugly? Do you think you are unintelligent? Do you think that you are less remarkable than any other human being? And I found that I gave resounding No’s to all these questions. I am now thankful for this experience because it did not shrink my confidence, but rather helped it grow beyond what it had ever been before.

Originally published at medium.com

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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