Like most people I’ve struggled (and still struggle) with self-confidence and self-acceptance and obviously there are lots of ways you can improve upon the way you see yourself, but I think one crucial step to gaining confidence comes with accepting all the different versions of yourself. I’m talking about all of the completely unique, polar opposite parts of you, the versions you show the world and the versions you keep to yourself. Sometimes it can be really easy to get so caught up in trying to be the kind of person that you think you should be that it becomes very difficult to actually accept who you are and everything that comes along with that.
So if like me you’re on the quest for confidence and for more happy days than sad ones then it’s all about embracing who you are now and who you have been throughout the different points in your life. You’ll probably find that everything has happened for a reason and that every ‘version’ of you has had or still has a purpose. By accepting all the different versions of you, any feelings of blame, guilt, shame or embarrassment that you have toward yourself should dissolve.
Take me for example, if I pull apart a few key versions of myself that I’ve embodied throughout the years I can already see their purpose-
I’ve been called a ‘sook’ or ‘drama queen’ since I was little because I feel things very deeply and often get emotional. Trust me when I say that this version of me is one I’ve spent a lot of time and energy feeling ashamed about. Even as I’ve gotten older I’m still a sensitive person (typical Pisces) and I’ve hated that behind closed doors crying is my knee-jerk reaction to a lot of situations. Genuinely, I’ve felt so embarrassed about this part of myself that I’ve wished I could be a different person, someone who never cries or gets upset or even cares for that matter. At 23, although I’m still coming to terms with it I do now fully accept this version of myself. I know now that I am an intuitive, empathetic, sympathetic person and those are highly regarded qualities that for a lot of people don’t come naturally. Being sensitive and empathetic doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong.
The studious version of myself is one that up until a few years ago was basically all I knew. The majority of my academic life was spent studying- so much studying, the staying up till 6.30am kind of studying. Hitting the books is all well and good but I often got major FOMO (fear of missing out) as a result and spent countless hours over the years playing the “what if?” game. From this sprung some shame and regret about this part of myself, I became embarrassed about a part of me that I really shouldn’t feel embarrassed about. So yeah, the ‘perfect student’ version of myself has some flaws but honestly, this time in my life gave me a killer work ethic and showed me that when I put my mind to something I can do a hell of a lot more than I give myself credit for. To be the most cliche that I possible can, it showed me what I was made of.
How many times have you heard or read the word ‘anxiety’ in the past year? I bet it’s a hell of a lot of times and it’s because anxiety is something a lot of people struggle with, myself included. Some people like to think that anxiety is a trend or way to grab attention but (aside from that being ridiculous) if you’ve ever actually had anxiety then you’ll know it’s something you quite literally would not wish on your worst enemy. In the past I’ve had such intense anxiety that there was not a single thought in my head throughout the day that wasn’t plagued with worry or fear. Anxiety is like having a voice in your head that plays you every troubling thought you’ve ever had on repeat, it twists your rational thoughts until they become an unrecognizable, worrisome mess.
Although it’s nothing like it was before I do still deal with anxiety issues and that’s why this version of myself is one that takes the most patience and effort for me to accept. When I think about it though, every awful moment and every panic attack I’ve ever had forced me to reflect on my life, my coping strategies, the people around me, everything. So as hard as it is for me to accept it, my anxiety ended up bringing me something I never thought it would, self-growth and gratitude. I now have a much deeper understanding of myself and I am extremely grateful for where I am in my life now and how far I’ve come.
One of the things I think people really don’t understand about me is that I’m either a glass half empty person or I’m so positive and optimistic that I will happily talk your ears off for hours about some theory I have which is about how the whole point of life is just to learn and find happiness.
Sometimes this version of myself makes me feel naive, like everyone else knows more about the world than I do and I’m just an idealistic 20-something who doesn’t really know what’s what.
Granted I am only 23 and have a lot of life experience and wisdom left to gain I have also been through a lot in the time I’ve been on this earth. I’ve travelled to over 18 countries, had life-changing experiences, been through my fair share of issues and the fact that I see the good in people and in the world is something I should feel proud of. The optimistic version of myself is one I currently accept with open arms (especially given the state of the world at the moment.)
I’m a mix of all of these versions and so many more. I could go on all day with this post but I guess what I’m trying to put out there is that if you’re trying to gain confidence and you’re learning to accept yourself, realise that no one is one-sided and we all have different versions to us. Everyone is so much more dynamic than they may appear and we’re all just learning and evolving as we go. So drop whatever perceptions or expectations you have about who you thought you would be at this point in your life and respect all the versions of yourself.
What do you think about accepting all of the versions of yourself?