How I Got My Confidence Back

Life gets tough, you just get tougher

About a month ago, my life took a gigantic big swing into left field, complete miss. My entire world, Benzinger mornings, swimming pool afternoons, Gunner’s Tuesday’s, looking forward to going back to school, vanished. I was uprooted from my Saint Mary’s home to my Long Island destination. I lost a relationship, lost familiarity, lost clarity, lost confidence.

For me, I thrive in the expected. I love lists. I love pro’s and con’s. Now, I’m not saying I can’t make a quick decision in times of pressure, but I love when I wake up in the morning and I know exactly what I’m doing. But even with the move, the new apartment, no-job, how do I pay rent, grad school jitters… I still had a floor. I had a rock that I could lean on, and I thought, completely on my own, that that person was going to carry into my future. He didn’t. It’s okay. I think when you leave somewhere, you try to pack all of the important things: your baby blanket, favorite books, clothes you “just might” wear, and people. When we move into new “chapters” for lack of a better concept, we try to hold on the previous one for as long as we can. And I think, for me, that’s where I went wrong. I tried to keep everything exactly the same when I knew it all had to change.

So, I started over. I let go of this misconception that I had to be the same person I was in undergrad. I, gratefully, did so well and succeeded greatly in my undergraduate career, but that left me with so much pressure. I felt as though maybe if I didn’t excel in graduate school I somehow failed all those people who believed in me back in PA. But that’s completely wrong. The people who truly care about you will always love you and support you as long as you’re trying your best, no matter what. So maybe I wasn’t going to be one of the best writers there. Maybe I wasn’t going to have a job for a while. Maybe that job wasn’t going to be in my field. I had to let go of this idea that I had to be so many things for other people. You don’t have to be anything for anyone.

I started dressing different. Recently, I’ve lost a lot of weight. Not being in school when literally dozens of cookies are in front of your and second helpings are endless, I’ve dropped some pounds. I never really considered myself to be at a bad weight or that I looked bad, by any means. I loved my body then, and I love it now. For me though, eating differently and taking daily walks is not only physical, but mental. My mind feels so clear. My head-space if free to create, to think, to alleviate those self-deprecating thoughts. Also, since I dropped some weight, I’ve been able to dress the way I’ve always wanted to with confidence. I wear jeans with crop tops and booties. I don’t cover myself anymore because I’m scared of “showing too much.” I unbutton the top button of my blouse now. I tuck my hair behind my ears. I stopped putting on so much eyeliner because I wanted to “stand out.” I stopped hiding underneath my fashion, and now I let my body and my mind speak my style.

I let myself meet new people. I think it’s completely acceptable and encouraged to keep those everlasting relationships you had in college. My college friends are some of the most trustworthy, beautiful people I’ve ever met. So, I’m not saying let go of that, but realize it’s okay if you don’t talk to them every single day. You don’t live two dorms down anymore, so it’s okay to loose a little bit of touch. Meet new people. Go out for drinks with your coworkers, let that guy take you dinner, text back later, not right now. It’s okay to hold onto people if you allow yourself to make space for new ones.

I listen to the music I want. I stopped apologizing for doing something different. I stopped being scared of fighting with people. I stopped backing down from everything. I go to bed early. I pamper myself with good skincare, making healthy choices, letting myself cheat every now and then, and just enjoying the things that don’t go my way.

I got a job outside of my field. I work at Abercrombie and Fitch, and guess what? I love it. I know I’m not writing, but I can come home from my job and I feel so inspired to create instead of burnt out from having to do it all day. I know that I have a degree, and I should be using that degree, but until I get this MFA, it’s okay to break from all of that. Your path is not a dot to dot connection. There’s TONS of breaks in your journey to get everything you want. And if anyone knows me, they know I always get what I want. Don’t let social media updates from your friends pressure you into your life decisions. You don’t have to be engaged. You don’t have to be in school again. You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make your heart happy.

I stopped thinking I needed someone to lean on. That rock? That floor? Yes, it’s so nice to have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything on your own. You CAN pay your bills. You CAN manage your time. You don’t need someone to remind you that you’re great and special everyday because you should believe that yourself. Your energy, that confidence I’m talking about, can only come from that spiritual belief in yourself. You can handle anything, I promise. So go get it.

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