Feeling confident is always a battle, especially on the first few weeks of school. Whether you’re starting at a new school or returning to the same old scenery, everyone wants to feel comfortable and accepted in the place they’ll be spending the next year. We’re always told to “be ourselves and we’ll be fine,” but honestly, that’s only half the battle. Getting caught up in how we're supposed to act, dress, and talk can turn us into completely different people—and then, once your real self comes out, you’re considered “fake.” That’s why it’s so important to find ways to be comfortable in your own skin. (After all, if you don’t love yourself, it’s a lot harder to convince other people to love you too!)
In other words, if you’re struggling to love yourself and stay confident as you go back to school, you’re not alone. But not to worry: you can overcome it, just like I did! Here are my tips for owning your self-confidence and starting the school year on strong footing.
Treat yourself like your best friend. I don’t say anything about myself that I wouldn’t say about the friends I love most in the world. The more cruel things you say about yourself, the more and sooner you’ll believe them.
Wear clothes that make you feel confident. That doesn’t mean “name-brand” or “trendy”—it means whatever makes me smile when I put it on. That’s why I never wore lace-up shirts, or patterned off-the-shoulder ones. I didn't like them, so it didn’t matter if they were trendy. I always pick out my clothes for at least the first three days of school, so I can make sure I’ll be comfortable and confident in what I’m wearing.
Start your day by thinking of five things you’re grateful for. Even though I’m tremendously grateful for all the huge things in life, I try and focus on small stuff for this exercise. When you break it down and really acknowledge the little things, they become so much more impactful. Doing this helps put everything into the right perspective.
Treat every compliment as an insult, and every insult as a compliment. I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t mean to find the negatives in someone else's kindness. What I mean is to take every compliment to heart as much as you would an insult. We spend so much time dwelling on every mean thing that gets said about us and absolutely none on compliments. If you could reverse the two, you’d brush off any insult without a second thought—but you’d also hang on to everything nice and really let it sink in. That means accepting every compliment with a smile and a thank-you! Someone took the time out of their life to say something nice; the least you can do is thank them and not disagree.
Look in the mirror every day and find one exceptionally pretty thing about yourself. That can be anything from how blue my eyes are in that moment to how nice one of my fingernails looks. The point is that there’s always something!
Look yourself in the eyes and repeat “I deserve happiness” ten times out loud. This one’s a doozy, and I keep it in my back pocket for the times I really feel broken. As silly and useless as it seems to talk to yourself out loud in a mirror, sometimes it’s the only thing that works. Being able to say that out loud, as powerfully as you can, will slowly convince you it’s true.
Back-to-school self-confidence is all about feeling strong and empowered. I was so far from strong for a while, and I can tell you firsthand that self-confidence can make all the difference in the world. Self-love can be the most unconditional and powerful thing, if we allow it to be—so we need to nurture it and grow it until we are truly comfortable in our own skin. Pure self-love is unwavering, kind, and patient; most importantly, it helps us see the love we deserve from others by setting a standard so high it’s unreachable by those sent to hurt us.
Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice for feeling confident is to find the strength inside yourself to love the person you are now—and the person are becoming. Others see what you choose to show them, so by loving yourself you’ll be able to show the real you!