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  • Writer's pictureGail Summerskill

Growing Self-Confidence

I decided to go to graduate school to please my father. There were other motives, but that was the biggest. I think all of us go to college or make other decisions for a variety of reasons, without really thinking about what’s on the other side of our decision: Hard work and the use of skills and practices often forgotten. A key ingredient for doing anything is self-confidence.

Getting Rid of Negative, Rent Free Voices in Our Heads!

In my case, I landed back into college in a course called the American Romance novel; I thought I had landed on Mars! My fellow students used words and ideas that didn’t sound like they were said in English. I was completely lost, lost in the coursework and my self-confidence. I compared myself to my classmates and concluded that I was incapable of college work.

A lack of self-confidence often starts when we judge ourselves in relation to others or completely believe what others say about us. Therefore, we give up on ourselves before starting anything. I conquered comparing myself to my classmates at the beginning of my college journey. However, when a literature professor told me that my poetry writing “might have been ok if I was an undergraduate,” I let that professor live rent-free in my head for ten years, allowing him to stop my poetry writing

Criticism from instructors, bosses, or anyone is important and needs to be heard and applied. However, as noted in my video story, I took the criticism in an extreme way that lessened my confidence. Luckily, I became a teacher, and after I saw my students’ confidence grow as I cheered them on with “you can do this; you just don’t understand yet; you will get there,” I heard and followed my own advice!

Taking inventory of what we do and do not do well as students, employees, and people is part of growing confidence and success. Improving our growth mindsets towards our work, as well as finding strategies to do them well is our job.  Most work requires patience, rethinking, doing, redoing, and getting help when necessary. We must remain self-confident that our work will be easier to do and of a better quality over time.

Success requires constant reassessment of our self-confidence and a willingness to work hard. Fortunately, self-confidence transfers across college, work, or family life. Therefore, to learn how to stop judging ourselves against others, carefully accept and reject criticism, and take ample time and help to do our work well is to build self-confidence that enhances every part of our lives.

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