As an introvert all I ever wanted was to be confident. I wanted to gain confidence when interacting with other people. I had some talents, but that didn’t matter, when my insecurities were dominating my behaviour around other people.
Confidence: the quality of being certain of your abilities.Cambridge Dictionary
Honestly, I was not doing myself any favour in avoiding all social situations. But it was just uncomfortable and I would avoid any social situation at all costs. I was afraid of being ridiculed, feeling embarrassed, or any other painful experience I could think of involving other people.
Of course, avoiding interacting with people would probably not ever make me certain of my abilities in interacting with other people. But my feeling of insecurity was dominating my rational mind, and my expectations of myself were sky high, hence I was never trying to get better.
Below are three ways to gain confidence I didn’t think about when I started my journey of becoming the person I wanted to be.
1. Lower your own expectations
You see others being perfect. In this case, I saw others having fun while chatting and small talking. I wanted to be like that. I wanted others to like me and having fun while interacting with me.
But that never happened. I was too afraid to start, because, obviously, I was not as good as the ones I observed, which were the best ones at it.
Back then, I didn’t realise it was a skill I could become good at. But even if I knew that, I wouldn’t have started in the fear of not being as good as them.
Imagine you wanted to become good at, say, playing pool. Imagine you never played in your life, and you go to a pool house and see the best ones play. You get challenged by one of the guys at the table, and, surprisingly, you accept. The games goes as expected, you get ridiculed in front of everybody. You realise someone is filming you and streaming it live on YouTub. Later that day you see this live streaming has the most views in history. Everybody in the world will now remember you as that ridicules guy that sucks at pool, and most likely at anything else.
But what did you expect? The same holds with any other skill you like to achieve, like interacting with other people.
The biggest obstacle most have to start something new, is, that they have too high expectations for themselves.
I did too. Me, I was scared to say anything, because I expected myself to be funny and fully confident in front of everybody. I expected confidence to be a trait, either you have it or not. The truth is, that confidence is a scale, and you can improve your skills if you focus your energy and efforts on it.
Set your expectations lower. Set some small goals to work towards. If you intelligently wanted to learn to play pool, you would not start like the above scenario, right?
2. Set people expectations for you
I remember, I just wanted to invisible. Yes, funny right. I didn’t like to get other peoples attention, even when standing in groups of friends. I just wished I wasn’t there.
In college I started to work out in to build some muscle mass, basically because I was skinny like a stick figure. I suddenly got some muscle tone and I liked what I saw in the mirror. Like any other newbie gym rat I started to walk in too small T-shirts to show my newly acquired results.
Something strange also happened. When I was walking around with my friends and some strangers came along, they would start talking to me. Like I was the alpha male of the group. Well, I was not deciding anything in the group back then. I was just a hang-around pretending to be part of the group, still being insecure about all aspects of myself.
In the beginning, when confronted with a question from strangers I would avoid answering and look at the my friends, which would answer for me.
But I couldn’t get out of my head that people saw me as the alpha male in the group. Suddenly, I started answering the questions directed to me on behalf of the group.
Obviously, I started to gain confidence by confronting my fear of talking to strangers.
What did I realise. Actually, before I was trying not to send any signals, but by sending the signals of the person you want to become, others will expect you to be that person and you will naturally get yourself out of the comfort zone to become the person.
My advice is, find a role models of the person you want to be. See how the dress, see how they walk, see what they do and copy it. Then others will expect you to be the same and naturally you will gain confidence.
3. Be interested in others
I was always afraid of asking other people questions. What if it was a stupid question. What if I would be ridiculed by others.
Say, you by coincidence stand in front of a beautiful girl and you ask her what she studies. She answers, microbiology.
Obviously, this should lead to the next question, but if you are afraid of admitting that you don’t know the obvious fact that microbiology is about biology on micro level. Well, what to do then.
Nice meeting you, goodbye. Yeah, I survived and was not ridiculed. But I didn’t gain confidence.
Another story could have been that you asked her about what interests her about microbiology. Then follow up with curious questions.
Suddenly, you gain knowledge about something you didn’t know anything about. Next time you meet a microbiologist, you already have insights into asking some more intelligent questions.
A bonus from having interest in other people, is, that you will see that other people also struggle with the same fears and limitations that you do. You are not that special, not that hopeless.
Being interested in others will teach you many things, but first of all it helps you becoming confident talking to strangers as your realise you can keep an conversation with a stranger for a long time. Actually, everybody loves to talk about themselves and their interests. They will love you for asking all these curious questions.
Hence, be interested in others. Everybody is a unique person and they can teach you something valuable to you. It is your job to find that value.