It's only once you hear of someone's accomplishments that you get worried about your own self-worth.
Only then do you start to become extra aware of the "progress" you're making in your life.
Think about if you met someone new. You didn't know about his/her wealth, social standing, education level, family, sex, none of it.
When you strip someone down of all of the things that society tells us is important, what do you get?
A simple human being, with a unique personality.
There's nothing he/she's better than you at, and there's nothing that you need to concern yourself with other than just enjoying each other's company.
People tend to never be satisfied with the rate at which they're going at once they know of someone's success, with wealth, fitness, or relationships. That feeling of envy starts to create a self-doubt which starts to eat away at them.
That premise is why I believe that the secret to building confidence is destroying envy.
Have you always been a "high-achiever" according to your high school or your parents?
Maybe you went to college as the star pupil and woke up to the reality that other people were way better at doing school than you did. Frustration arises out of not being able to be "at the top," as your expectation is to always be there.
Your believe that you have a high expectation of yourself is often rooted in the comparison of your progress compared to others. These high expectations, more often than not, don't motivate you out of joy for what you're doing, but out of desperation to not fall behind other people.
Do you see what I mean?
Envy is what puts your self-worth into question.
It's hard to think that you're enough when you're constantly stacking your achievements against other people who have bigger lists.
With any progress you actually do make, you'll never acknowledge it or appreciate it. Because it is never as good as the progress he or she over there is making.
You're just never good enough.
And I know this feeling can permeate your life for a long. Long. Time.
I know from firsthand experience.
See, I've learned within myself that the biggest thing that depressed me was envy.
Envy of my college buddies who got more internships than I was getting.
Envy of other races who got more privilege than I had in my life.
Envy of other boys who would hang out with the kind of women that I wanted to interact with.
My confidence was a crumbling mess. Self-doubt flowed out of me whenever I tried to actually act on the skills I wasn't good at. "Don't lift weights, you're not as strong as the other guys in there" or "don't try to talk to pretty girls, they're out of your league and for the handsome dudes only".
I stopped myself from doing things outside of my norm, in order to protect this image of what I was already good at. I didn't want to lose face because I was a terrible at things that other people I knew were great at.
This envy controlled me and caused me to think irrationally.
Why shouldn't I do something that I want to do as long as it doesn't hurt anybody?
Am I really a fool for trying something new, or am I just a beginner who understandably needs a few more lessons before I get good?
Maybe you find yourself at a time in your life where you just don't know if the steps you're taking are the right ones. You're just doing what people have told you to do.
Maybe you think to yourself,
- "I hate taking college classes. Is this really what I want to be doing?"
- "I haven't had an internship yet. Am I making as much progress as my friends?"
- "I'm stuck at this job/location/classroom. Am I realizing my full potential as a human being?"
How do you become more confident with your life's direction, and with the actions you take?
First, let's define what confidence is.
The textbook definition of confidence is: self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
While you should definitely be appreciative of yourself and your qualities, you need to see the best in other people as well. In other words, in order to be confident, eradicate envy from your mindset and learn to be more appreciative.
It's okay to admire people and their accomplishments. As you learn to truly appreciate other people's qualities and abilities, you'll find yourself becoming more genuine, and less focused on your qualities compared to theirs.
So when you're surrounded by lots of talented people, you can generally frame it in one of two ways:
- Everyone is so ahead of me. They have so many internship experiences while I've had none. What am I doing? I'm not going to get a job out of college and my friends and parents will think I'm a failure.
- Wow. I'm doing really cool things. Everyone around me is doing such cool things as well. What can I do to help these people, while potentially advancing my own goals?
I want you to forget about that 1st frame of mind. It's not going to help you. The comparison will only make you more depressed.
The 2nd frame of mind is so much more conducive to positive thinking and problem solving. It doesn't dive into or really compare your progress to other people. The statement just simply acknowledges that you've made progress. That's all. It reframes your situation in a way that helps you figure out how to get over the humps in your life, rather than lament over your supposed "failure" to attain what you want.
Now that you know a more productive way to combat envy, let's go deeper into why we have envy a.k.a. a lack of confidence in the first place.
Where Lack of Confidence Stems From
The common narrative of what "success" is the backbone to of a lot of the non-confident behavior we see a lot these days in young people.
When you internalize these storylines that you think are supposed to happen, your life becomes a never-ending vortex of sadness and jealousy.
Every time that you veer slightly off the path you think is supposed to happen, it has catastrophic implications in your mind. On the train track to a destination called "success", one little teeter becomes a derailed train, and if that happens, you end up with nothing.
So we live our lives trying our best to stay on track, never questioning whether the track leads to the path we actually want. Our brains turn on autopilot, and we simply ignore the frustration that we have for our direction in life, claiming that this temporary struggle is necessary to give us the freedom to achieve what we want.
"It's for a greater purpose," you reason, and although that may be true in some cases where you do have to stick it out, sometimes the fight is simply not worth it.
In some cases, you are lied to. The path you were told to take by society, your parents, or your friends may not be the best method to getting the results you think you'll get.
This situation is sad because it's this popular mentality and narrative that we're fed that is the cause of so many of my friends' self-loathing and general lostness in their lives (as well as mine).
If you resonate with any of the words I've said so far, then you need to change something. You owe it to yourself to get off the tracks you were put on and start building the person that you want to be.
Stop internalizing this bullshit narrative of success.
By simply being a person, who is trying their best with the information you have at the time, you have worth. That's all there is.
Just believe it.
And if you don't believe it, indulge in delusion.
Let yourself believe that you are enough in the state this present moment. Trick yourself if you have to.
You Are Enough.