I was reading an old diary I used to keep today, and I wrote something down about how proud I was that I had waved to someone I hadn’t seen in a while. I was proud because I previously had been too shy to do something like that before. Sounds a bit crazy right? In a nutshell – I grew up terribly shy. And just as I was approaching my teens… my confidence deteriorated also. Now, this is going to be a personal one, and a long one… so grab a cup of tea.
When I was very young – as in still in nursery – I was painfully shy. Throughout nursery, I never said a word to anyone, to the point where when I actually did open my mouth and speak, someone said they had thought I was a ‘mute’. As school progressed – I got louder around the people I knew. Because of the way school works when you’re young, being shy didn’t stop me from making loads of friends. However, if you were to put me in front of anyone I didn’t know, I would once again revert back to my shy self – unable to do anything but smile. Why was I so shy? I honestly think it was just in my nature. I was always way too concerned about saying the wrong thing, and way too concerned about judgments – so whilst my mind was always working, nothing translated to my mouth. But this started to harm me the older I got – because the older you get, the more being able to socialise and speak up can put you forward in life. Time after time I would kick myself for going to parties and not socialising or being too shy to dance or I’d kick myself for not speaking my mind in class and having someone else impress with what I wanted to say. I just wished that I had been one of those people that was born naturally outgoing – it seemed like a much easier life to live.
Although I’d constantly try and make and effort to come out of my shell (‘new me’ and all), what really helped was just experiencing life. Which may not seem like the most practical tip – but it is totally true. The thing is, the older you get, the less you can be shy if you’re trying to achieve different things. For example, this week at work I had to meet a some clients and also a set of investors – these were completely new faces that I’d never seen before, but I was able to introduce myself confidently, and not shy away like the mute I once was. I was able to do this because I’m now way more experienced in that area, every day I’m meeting and conversing with completely new people, it’s what my job requires of me, but also what life typically requires from all of us. The older you get, the more mature you get, and the more you start to realise that no one is really digging to deeply into what you say. Being less shy is something that continues to grow as I get older, even just in the past few years – I still remember having a friend around 2.5 years ago that would always point out to me that I came across as shy.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not an extremely loud outgoing person. I’m naturally quite quiet, I’m quite a chill person and I tend to listen and I contribute when I want to. Plus I’ll be honest – I still have to psyche myself up a sometimes when it comes to huge social situations, but what I’ve realised is that this is the case for a lot of people. You can even see cracks in some of the people you may believe have no inch of shyness in them – it’s just human nature for most of us. However, whilst I can be quiet at times, I can and definitely do strike up and hold a conversations with people from many different walks of life. I definitely don’t find myself choking up and kicking myself as much as I used to. If I have something to say – I can say it, and with confidence, to anyone. Practice makes perfect, after all.
Confidence, to me, was an even bigger challenge to overcome. Whilst shyness was more about being quiet and trying to get out of my own head – confidence involved how I felt about myself. Growing up, I was pretty confident, and I can say this is something my parents instilled in me. But boy, once I started secondary school? My confidence shattered into a million pieces. Whilst I did have a lot of friends, and from the outside looking in life probably seemed really peachy – I was actually truly and totally insecure. It really revolved around how I felt regarding how I looked – I would always hear whispers about X, Y and Z who had called me ‘butters’. I even remember once me and two of my best friends all had a crush on this guy, who relayed to someone that “the tall one is butters”, guess who the tall one was? Me. There are a million other stories that I could dip into – for example, when the boys in my class would make ‘buff’ lists – let’s just say that I never performed well on those lists. Or, another story that springs to mind is a friend of mine once coming back from holiday to Sierra Leone and proclaiming that he was suddenly interested in black girls – there were only two black girls in my year at the time, and when he chose which one to pursue, it definitely wasn’t me. It all got so bad that I once went to bed and prayed to God to make me ‘pretty’.
Of course things are totally different now. I definitely have a million times more confidence than I used to have (and I can’t say it doesn’t feel good sometimes to LinkedIn the people that whispered behind my back and see that they have amounted to a whole lot of nothing!) I think the biggest way I picked up my confidence was the realisation at a young age that there really was a bigger picture that was a whole lot more important than boy X at school thinking I was ugly. I poured myself into my studies, and knew that if I did that I could land myself in a top university which could essentially land me a great job, and that is how things played out. Another thing that worked for me was to shift around the people I hung out with – did I really need to be hanging out with boy X after I had heard what he said about me behind my back? No way. Did I even need to be nice to him? Not at all. At times I would even confront these people, but of course they never admitted it to my face. Regardless, sometimes there’s nothing better than disposing of bad influences in your life.
“Sometimes, there’s nothing better than disposing of bad influences in your life”
As I grew older and was settling out of puberty, things started to get better. Suddenly people weren’t looking at me because they thought I was unattractive, some of these people actually wanted to talk to me?! Also, my hard work started to pay off into different achievements, and whilst you definitely shouldn’t need achievements to validate you and make you feel good about yourself, it does help sometimes. Thirdly, as you get older, people mature and grow. My focus now is totally on self development – what really matters in life, and how can I focus on being the best me? If I had this sort of mindset earlier on in life, I doubt I would’ve felt as down in the dumps as I sometimes did. I remember once bumping into one of the main school culprits at a party when I was around 17/18 and letting him know (after a few drinks) how much I used to dislike him. He apologised and urged me to forget the past – “people grow up” after all. School can be hard sometimes as everyone’s so young, most people are immature and some people are going in completely different directions in life – but it’s such a small, minute part of your life in terms of the overall picture – you’re literally just getting started! In this sense, and as always, nothing heals and helps better than time.
Aww Kemi, young shy you sounds so adorable. Wow, I can really relate to the confidence bit. High school really shatters your confidence, well it did for me. When I was in year 10 I think, Ask FM was the in thing and it used to crush me when people would get asked who are the prettiest girls in Year 10 and I wasn’t on it. Things like that used to get to me so I can totally relate on that level.
You’re so right, self development is what matters. I’ve certainly come a long way from those days and it’s clear that you have to. I’m glad you’re in a good place and I really enjoyed reading this. xx
Coco Bella Blog
This is something I can totally relate to, growing up socially awkward without any confidence was really a daily struggle. I am glad you are in a much better place now, as I am too.
I think that age is such a helping factor when it comes to developing confidence. I was also painfully shy as a child and as I’ve got older, I’ve found that my confidence has grown and grown x
Jenny | LuxeStyle
I can relate to all of this I was always the quiet one and it took me a while to develop or look more “attractive”. But Confidence is always needed YOUR gorgeous XO!
Aw thank you love! Yeah it definitely takes a lot of growing up to realise these little things! X
Wow love your post so much. High school was definitely hard on me too. I’m Asian and where I was living, there was only one other Asian girl so I definitely got made fun of. My black hair and slanted eyes. Kids can be really cruel. But I got older went to college, know more people. My confident level got 100% time better.
Keep writing and keep your head up 😊
Thanks girly! Kids can definitely be cruel, but glad you found your confidence. And haha thank you – my head is definitely up these days 😉
I was heavily bullied when I was in school, so confidence was something I always lacked. I finally started to gain more confidence in myself once I hit my 20’s, but I still have times when I get really down on myself.
I think we all have down times – hard to be 100 all of the time. Glad you started to gain more confidence in your 20s! X
This is so so so relatable! I was a painfully shy child just like you put it. I am still insanely shy now as an adult. Shyness has a weird negative effect on one’s confidence and that has been such a struggle for me now that I am older. I don’t know how to start a conversation with people, I often just curl up by myself in a group setting. LOL. Still working on my self and that self development 🙂
Things will definitely get better over time as you continue working on things! It definitely has been a struggle for me to get to this point and there’s still a lot further to go! X
This was beautifully written and the experiencing life bit is so true! I still beat myself up when I meet new people because I feel like I’m being annoying or talking too much/too little but the more people I meet and the more practice I get at situations I used to find extremely difficult the better and more confident I get! And it all gets so much better when you get to know people, I think facing the fact that meeting new people is hard and you need practice at it definitely has helped me a lot 🙂
The Quirky Queer
Thank you girl! Practice definitely makes perfect. – so glad these things have worked for you! X
This was such a great read and I love this playsuit on you. So gorgeous.
Amy ❤️ http://TheBlushingPink.com
I certainly can relate! I was terribly shy growing up for many reasons. Being smart and liked by teachers didn’t help either; the other kids would always pick on me.
Thankfully over time, I’ve grown out of that. I’ve grown confident, fearless and never afraid to stand out. One fact that motivated me was the fear of not allowing people to experience my true self. If I was to be gone tomorrow, what would people have to say about me?
This post is beautifully written and you do look gorgeous in your outfit.
I like that point about not allowing people to experience your true self – I agree, it’s never worth it to hold back on your full potential just because of a few whispers in your head! Thank you love!
Thank for for being so open and honest in sharing your story babe..it’s not easy!! But glad you were able to overcome this and you are definitely shining now!! <3
Couldnt agree more, especially about achievements. Yes you shouldnt use it to validate your self-worth, but they can really make you feel better, and even strive for more. It keeps the passion burning. Achievements come in all shapes and sizes. They dont have to be grand. So there.
You look gorgeous by the way!
Jessica | notjessfashion.com
It can definitely have you continuously striving – it’s definitely not a bad thing! Thank you!