What is it like to be naturally confident? I thought it would be really interesting to get a different perspective on confidence, written by someone who is naturally self-confident. Millie Slavidou is the perfect person to write about this. She has masses of confidence in herself and the decisions she takes. I am sure you will find her thoughts interesting and inspiring.
Articles on confidence abound on the Internet. There are plenty telling you to change your appearance to make yourself feel better, there are others giving you advice on things to say, ways to move and stand and all sorts of other things.
This is not one of those articles. I am not here to give you advice. Just to tell my story.
I have plenty of confidence. It is just the way I am. I feel strong in myself. I don’t agonise over how I look and whether other people will like me. I don’t worry over tiny throwaway comments that other people make, wondering whether they were intended as personal slurs, or whether I have done something to offend that person.
I get up in the morning and I am ready to face the day. I look in the mirror and I start the day with a smile. I always smile at myself first thing. Is this because I am perfect, not a hair out of place? Because I am stunningly beautiful and it cheers me to see it? Not at all. I look much like a lot of other people in the morning. Eyes still full of sleep, hair sticking out. But these things do not matter. They are part of what it means to be human. I do not have flaws to worry about, because there is no such thing as a flaw in appearance. There are simply individuals and differences. I have my share of grey hairs, I have an overbite. What of it? These things do not concern me in the least.
Confidence is not just about being able to accept your appearance for what it is and seeing through the smoke and mirrors and promises of the photoshop articles. It is about how you walk, how you talk, how you present yourself. How you move through the world. I am not daunted by the thought of talking to people. I do not worry about what they will think of me. Will they like me? So what if they don’t? I am hardly likely to remain forever friendless on the basis of a random encounter or two. There are billions of people in the world, and we cannot get along with everyone.
I have learned several foreign languages, and I believe that confidence has had a part to play. I do not worry about making mistakes – I have always been ready to jump straight in and have a go. It is attitude that makes the difference. Other people will, in any case, listen more to a speaker who goes ahead and speaks with assurance, however many grammatical mistakes are made, rather than to a speaker who is hesitant at every word.
So what does it mean to me when people criticize me? Do I immediately brush them off? Not at all. It depends on the spirit of the criticism. If it is obvious that the critic is there to be malicious and annoy me, then I happily ignore it and give no further thought to it. If I can see that it is constructive, then I will consider it. This does not mean that I agree – but I am willing to give it some thought. In either case, I do not see it as a problem, and it does not upset or offend me.
In my parenting, confidence has meant that I have been able to bring up my children bilingually and ignore all the gainsayers, all the negativity. I was strong enough in myself to reject their opinions and trust in my own abilities and knowledge. It has meant that I have been able to stand up to various professionals and demand better for my children, again with no concern as to their opinion of me, or that I have been able to reject advice that I knew to be wrong, again from professionals in positions of trust.
In my relationships, too, confidence has played its part. I have never agonized about whether my partner likes me or will like me in a particular outfit or if I do a particular activity. How limiting that seems to me. Why would he not? Am I good enough? Of course I am. Why would I think otherwise? Unless your partner is a demi-god, then they are in the same boat as us, and we are all worth it. Notions of superior and inferior are all in the mind – but not in my mind.
I am a writer. I write books for pre-teens in which my main character is a young girl who I portray as confident. I do not have her worrying about her appearance or other people’s opinions. There are plenty of other books available if that is what you want to read. Instead, I want children to see that it is possible. That there are people out there who are not interested in what you look like; that they don’t think about it at all. I want to show that such confidence is possible in our society.
I started out by saying that I was not here to give advice. But I have changed my mind. I will give just one piece of advice. Start your day with a smile, no matter what. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. It is a good way to start.
Author Millie Slavidou is a British writer and translator living and working in Greece. She writes about etymology on Jump! Mag and on Glossologics, and shares her children’s stories on Kidscapers. Her books have been published by Jump! Books