By partnering with a community of women, I learned everything from the value of hard work to the importance of understanding my personal moral values. Seeing other confident women gave me the strength I needed to find myself.
For most of my teenage years, I struggled with gaining confidence. Like most of my peers, I spent hours comparing myself to others. Everyone else seemed to be better at everything--whether she was better looking or the smartest girl in the room, somehow I found it difficult to consider myself as good as the women around me. For years I felt inadequate, even worthlessness, believing I simply wasn’t as capable as others.
I was well into my late 20s before I to woke up and realized that the only person to whom I needed comparison was me. In reality, I was the person who had the power to make myself into everything I saw around me.
Women need to see other women as allies, not as competition.
That’s when I finally figured out that having self-confidence is one of the key building blocks to success. When I shared my story with other women, I came to understand that what we all had in common was a lack of positive female role models in our lives. The women in our circle were busy competing with each other and putting down other women.
As we talked more, we all agreed that what we lacked growing up was access to women who were willing to be honest about self-esteem issues. The shortage of positive women in our lives only created packs of "mean girls" instead of young women who wanted to empower and support other women.
Here’s what I wish I knew about confidence: it takes work, but with the right guidance and encouragement, we women can find it. If we all follow these three rules we can make the road to discovering confidence easier for everyone.
Confidence Begins at Home
So much of who we are starts with the environment in which we're raised. The people with whom we surround ourselves are our first introduction to learning who we are. For most of us, that's our immediate families—these are the people who show us by example what it means to be confident.
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One of the biggest lessons we learn from the women in our immediate circle is how to treat other women. In a recent interview, Busy Phillips talked about the importance of using words of empowerment in front of her young daughters and other women. "I’m very aware of how I talk to women,” she said. “I lead by example.” Phillips words are a reminder that we all need to be vigilant about speaking to and about women respectfully; this is a first step to learning the power of self-worth. When we uplift other women in our own homes, it teaches us to demand respect outside of it.
Say it Loud: I am Woman and I’m Proud
The daily practice of reminding ourselves of our self-worth can do wonders for our outlook. Taking stock of our all our strengths—our intellect, personal achievements, and unique talents—helps us internalize positive feelings that eventually reflect our confidence levels. And with confidence comes a healthy dose of self-esteem.
When we feel empowered we make empowered choices. Women may still be, for example, struggling for pay equity, but there are plenty of empowered women standing up to challenge this established rule. Building a girl’s confidence encourages her to help others feel the same—there is no investment needed more than the investment in uplifting women and girls.
We Are Most Empowered When We Empower Others
One of the greatest things that happens when a woman finds her She-Compass is the excitement she feels at wanting to help others harness their personal power. The greatest gift I received when I learned to love and accept all of me was being able to approach the world with a new-found sense of self.
But I didn’t do it alone—I had plenty of women in my circle to show me what it meant to “lean in.”
"Sisterhood is powerful."-- Kathie Amatniek
Joining a community of women who can be role models and support all our ups and downs can turn young girls searching for confidence into strong women who can face almost any challenge. By partnering with a community of women, I learned everything from the value of hard work to the importance of understanding my personal moral values. Seeing other confident women gave me the strength I needed to find myself.
While it’s true that most girls will struggle with discovering confidence, what’s important is that we feel we have a sisterhood in which to turn. Building strong bonds with other women gives us the tools we need to make our way in this world—I for one am glad that I had the courage to stop seeing women as my competition and learned to see them as my truest allies.