Fake It Till You Make It: How To Seem Confident

Like a lot of teenage girls and women in their 20s, I’ve struggled with becoming confident and staying that way. Every now and again I might experience an ego boost from a nice compliment or a job well done, but soon after, I’m back to feeling like the world’s most average person. Always good, never great.

I fully realize that this isn’t healthy. Being confident in yourself is an important step in self-actualization. If you can’t begin to see yourself as a fully formed person who’s worthy of happiness, success, and respect, you’ll never be content.

This week, I’ve made it my goal to practice some new techniques that will help me project confidence. I really think the old saying, “fake it till you make it,” is legitimate as long as you’re honest in your faking. What does that mean? It means that faking confidence can make you more confident as long as you allow yourself to buy into your own techniques. For example, if you want to smile more often so that you’ll feel happier, you can’t just walk around with a Barbie Doll grin stuck on your face all day. You’ll just end the day with cheek pain. Instead, you have to be thoughtful, and remind yourself to smile when you think something is funny or sweet or exciting — even if you wouldn’t normally bother with the facial expression.

So without further ado, here’s my list of techniques that have helped me project confidence and be confident:

1.) Before doing something that makes you nervous (a presentation in class, a meeting with your boss, a first date…) tell yourself that you’re really excited. And don’t just say the words “I’m excited”. Think of reasons to be excited. If you have a big presentation, remind yourself that it’s actually exciting because you’re getting to share your ideas with people, and guess what? Your ideas are awesome. If you have a scary meeting, tell yourself that you’re excited because you finally have the chance to impress someone who might not always give you the time of day. And you’re damn impressive. Once you start approaching these types of events with an excited attitude, you’ll walk into every room looking and feeling more confident.

2.) Spend more time with the people you love. Our most beloved friends and family members tend to be our biggest cheerleaders, so spending more time with them can actually make you feel more confident over time.  When we spend time with other people in a happy environment, we leave feeling emotionally boosted, loved, and more popular — all things that lead to confidence. So schedule in a few more dinners and drinks with your squad or visit your parents more often. Confident people always lean on their support system.

3.) Set little goals. Having huge goals is great. They can give you something to reach for and propel you to success. However, the big goals take a long time to reach and there’s always going to be little disappointments on the way. So set some little goals too. Small things that you can achieve in a day or a week. For example, maybe tomorrow you’re going to drink a full eight glasses of water during the day. Giving yourself little things to achieve will make you feel continuously more accomplished and more confident by extension.

4.) Give yourself notecards. When you’re not a naturally confident person, you’ll always have certain social interactions that you struggle with. Me? I hate answering phone calls and leaving voicemails. Every time, I lose track of what I should be saying or there’s long awkward pauses. I always hang up the phone feeling embarrassed and stupid. To combat this problem, I made notecards for myself, like the kind telemarketers use. Basically, I have a little piece of paper with all the things I need to say on it. Then, when I have to make a phone call, I pick up my notecard and look at it while I’m talking. This way, I have a script in case I get nervous and forget what to say. The person on the other end of the phone hears me sounding confident and I finish my phone call feeling like I did a good job at the whole social interaction thing. Win-win.

5.) Speak to the people you barely know. I think I speak for everyone when I say acquaintances are the worst. Whenever I bump into someone I barely know, I freak out and don’t know whether I should say hi. Then I avoid eye contact or give that weird half wave. Now, I’ve realized the best way to deal with the situation is to take the guess work out of it and just say hi. If they don’t remember you then whatever! Politely remind them who you are.  I promise they won’t think you’re a weirdo. In fact, they’ll think you’re probably a really nice, friendly person, and they’re rude for forgetting your name. Then, they’ll start remembering your name. And then a bunch of people will remember your name. And then those acquaintances will turn into friends. Boom. You’re a confident person with friends.

6.) Eat Carbs. Okay, so this one might seem random, but hear me out. I used to run cross country, so I know any runner will tell you that carbs are life. Carbs give us quick energy and make us feel alert. This translates to confidence because people who are upbeat and awake seem happier, and happy people seem more confident. By the transitive property from that one math class we all took in ninth grade, Carbs=confidence. So go eat some pasta and seem cool as heck.

7.) Make a confidence playlist. Demi Lovato is right. There’s nothing wrong with being confident. So take her cue, and sing about it at the top of your lungs. Like eating carbs, singing makes most people feel happy. Singing music with lyrics about confidence works double duty by making you happier and more self-assured at the same time. To start your confidence playlist, I strongly suggest “Everybody Loves Me” by OneRepublic, “War Paint” by Fletcher, and “On the Regular” by Shamir.

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