We are our own worst enemy. Too many times do we let our anxieties and negative thoughts take over our minds. We shouldn’t have to be reminded to be kinder to ourselves, given the state that the world is in now you can be forgiven for making a few errors in judgement. Yet it is still so easy for us to let those little voices of doubt in our head cancel out the more sensible voices. I personally am excellent at making myself feel bad about things that have happened in the past, things that everybody else has forgotten are still at the forefront of my mind. Anxiety and doubt are like an old friend at this point, always there for you when nobody else is. So how do we deal with these feelings every time they show up? Should you just ignore them and pretend they are not there? Or perhaps you should try and be perfect? I believe it is quite the opposite, you should quit being perfect and do what’s best for you instead. Seeking out perfectionism isn’t going to lead to improving your self confidence and self worth in life, rather it will lead you to be unfulfilled in so many ways.
“To thine own self be true.” William Shakespeare
If you’re feeling that your life is a mess or is directionless (and you’re not the only one feeling like this), then accepting that that’s okay is important. Everybody has their own journey in life and even though sometimes it can seem like everything is against you, including your own mind, it is important to be brave in these situations and trust yourself. If you won’t trust in yourself, how can you expect anyone else too either? Trusting in yourself shows self worth and self confidence and that translates to other aspects of your life, such as your career and your love life. Trusting yourself is not an easy thing to do, sometimes it is hard to say if we truly know ourselves. Believing in yourself and having strong self confidence is an issue felt by everyone. Unfortunately, it is a harsh truth that women have particular difficulty with achieving proper self confidence throughout life. From a young age girls are encouraged to compare themselves to others and achieve impossible body standards. This lack of self confidence is especially alarming when compared to men of similar age, who studies have shown have a much higher state of self confidence at the same age. Studies show that these are unfortunately issues found worldwide. Social media has heavily distorted our perceptions of each other. This isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have any benefits at all because it does, it is a great way of keeping up to date with friends and family, particularly since we’ve all been seeing a lot less of each other recently. But the fact is that social media is not reality, it’s that simple. In the age of influencers and internet celebrities it’s easy to get caught up in comparing lives and the pressures to be seen as perfect online, you must remember that this is a wholly unrealistic and very unhealthy viewpoint to have. It can affect your mental health greatly which in turn lowers your self confidence. If you feel particularly self conscious then try taking a little break for a few days, perhaps a week. Delete the apps and go on with your life as you normally would. You’ll find that you have more time to work on other things in your life and the non-existent barrage of likes and followers will help improve you mentally.
Despite this it’s important to remember that no one is born self confident and there is definitely not a person alive today that is confident all of the time. Don’t let other people’s opinions or negativity keep you from being you. For example, there is a perception among a small contingent of the people that confident women who speak up are pushy and abrasive or worse. Using your voice is very important but it’s easy to let in anxieties about certain people's opinions stop using it. These people clearly do not have the right perspective on things and you should definitely not listen or worry about what these people have to say, you can’t please everyone.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott
Striving to be perfect in life is a common thing. We are constantly surrounded by media that emphasises advertisements that have an unrealistic image of what the world looks like. Our culture puts so much emphasis on these values that feeling and thinking this way is not an abnormal thing. Being a Perfectionist can even be a sign of having strong ambitions in life. However trying to be perfect isn’t a way for you to grow or evolve as a person, it’s just an attempt to try and minimise all the hurt in life. How many different ways have you thought ‘I am not enough’, being perfect would surely save you from ever having those thoughts again, right? Wrong. In fact, it is by trying to be perfect that these thoughts are allowed to flood your mind. Life unfolds in a complicated and unpredictable way. It is not pretty, but it’s also not meant to be. This year has proven how even the most stable of lives can be thrown into chaos. The most important trait you can have is to be adaptable and embrace the imperfect. There is so much pressure to succeed in every aspect of life, such as in family, career and relationships. It’s almost an impossible task to live up to all of them perfectly. Today the expectations of a woman are far different than they were say fifty years ago, old fashioned expectations tended to favour a more conservative outlook whereas today there is a bigger emphasis on independence and versatility. These expectations directly contradict each other's values making it hard to properly define what it takes to be a successful modern woman. Being the perfect modern woman is not possible, the obvious contradictions in expectations means that it is simply unattainable. But you shouldn’t hold this against yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having a bigger focus on career rather than starting a family or vice versa, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fulfilled in life. Self fulfilment won’t be achieved if you constantly strive to be perfect.
“You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” - Michelle Obama