“Write about the role being confident or not being confident has played in your life.”
Confidence is much like self-improvement, it takes continuous work and it is never quite finished. I've been thinking a lot about how my confidence and my sense of self has changed over the years because I have noticed a change. In "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck," the central idea is that in order to change your life and decide what to give or not give a fuck about, relies heavily on your values. If you cannot change your values, you essentially cannot control the things that really should be under your control. Changing one's values is not easy.
When I began high school, I went in with the assumption that it was going to be similar to if not worse than my time in middle school. I'm Muslim, 9/11 happened around that time, I went to a hood school in which I was the only Indian, you get my drift. I went into high school basically not giving a fuck, which, if I think about it now, was glorious. It was not an ignorant I don't give a fuck but more an I-have-nothing-to-lose I don't give a fuck. I know I can't, or rather shouldn't approach all life situations expecting the worst but there is a kind of confidence that comes with it. I didn't care about fitting in, having friends, being popular or pretty, I just did what made me happy. I went to school with a little garden of pins and fake flowers in my hair for fucks sake.
That was my freshman year. Almost 10 years later and I wish I could summon up that girl again because I'm not her anymore. A few years ago, seemingly out of the blue, I started losing hair. In clumps. When I went to the dermatologist, I found out I had alopecia areata (you lose patches of hair from your head). No one knows how one gets it and although you can use topical treatment or get injections, there is no permanent cure. Sometimes it grows back, sometimes it doesn't. I got a pixie cut because I grew tired of watching strands of my hair fall and it must have helped because within a few months, my hair grew back.
There were a multitude of things during 2014-2015 that led to the decline of my confidence. I had graduated college but was working in retail, I was losing my hair, my cat passed away and I started breaking out. Having had a pixie before, I was adamant about preaching like India Arie that "I am not my hair." But it was completely different to start losing it because it was out of my control. My confidence was on the floor. When I started suffering from adult acne, my confidence was practically nonexistent. The pimples weren't as much of an issue as was the hyperpigmentation, which I am very prone to. So even if I didn't touch a pimple, it would still scar, taking anywhere from 3-9 months to clear.
My appearance was the cause of my diminishing confidence but this was only true because I valued my appearance. I can see now that this is a terrible thing to value, firstly because your appearance is always changing and secondly because there are so many obviously more important things to value. At a certain point in high school, I was given attention because of my looks. That was reinforced over the years so many times that I began to value that and sadly, associated my appearance with my self-worth.
I'm an adult now and I know that what matters is learning and growing. My friends and family and helping others. So what role has confidence played in my life? It allowed me to live apologetically as my true self for a couple of fantastic years. How has not being confident impacted my life? It has debilitated me. For a couple years it stopped me from living my life and taking all the chances I've had to love, live and explore because I didn't feel good enough about myself.
I know that there are thousands and probably millions of women and men alike out there that feel the way I did. That their worth is directly tied to their appearance when it shouldn't be. I have a pixie cut right now by choice because I like short hair, despite being told most guys like long hair (like I give a fuck). I still have breakouts and suffer from excessive hyperpigmentation so believe me when I say that you are not your hair. You are not your acne. You are not your imperfections. You are not your body. Your confidence is important so focus on loving you and appreciating your brain and loving your sense of curiosity and finding the importance in being generous and kind. No matter how old you are, 10 years from now you'll regret all the things you didn't do because of some superficial flaw. Work on your values so you can build healthy confidence. Give yourself a cup of self-love.
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