Challenge your concepts of confidence

Can we reach a place where we truly don’t care about what others think of us?

Chloe McElmury, Senior Columnist

First-year me would not recognize the woman I am today. I’ve written about it before, but during my first year at Hamline I was one of the worst versions of myself.

I was one of those Tumblr introverts who found solace and solidarity in that label, even though I’ve come to realize I love people and can’t get enough of their perspectives and stories. I cared way too much what others thought of me, thinking strangers would care if I ate alone in the cafeteria. Now I realize we all are thinking a little bit more about ourselves and all of the stress that comes along with college, not some girl eating by herself. I didn’t have much confidence, and wasn’t sure what I could offer to the world, if anything. I struggled finding something to say about myself that I thoroughly liked besides my smile or making others laugh.

Flash-forward to this past fall when I was in my practice interview required by Hamline’s English major. My interviewer told me she’s seen a few other confident women like me before, and I was surprised to be grouped into that category. I admitted to her that my biggest accomplishment in college was growing into the person I am now, about how low-confidence I used to be. In the notes section of her feedback form, she simply wrote “you are ready.” That short phrase was a big thing to hear from her… from anyone.

To be honest, I still care a lot about what other people think. I’m not sure if it’s too much, though. I rarely wear sweatpants to class because I’m worried I’ll unexpectedly need to make a good first impression with someone. I think it’s funny that in high school my wardrobe was always oversized Hollister and American Eagle sweatshirts with Uggs. That started changing in my later years of high school when I realized how overweight I was and that hiding in sweatshirts wasn’t helping.

I really enjoy makeup, but I also feel like I need it most days. I get the rosiest of cheeks without makeup and even this year I had someone in my senior seminar tell me how red my cheeks were. So, unless I really don’t care or am deathly ill, you’ll always catch me around campus with my highlighter shining and skin looking like one even skin tone.

I think it’s acceptable and perfectly okay to care what others think. It’s not a sign of weakness or insecurity. I think that’s part of being a human and living in our society. We want to be validated, especially if we can’t do that ourselves. Sometimes even when we can, that can falter and we might need a little reminder.  It’s okay caring what other people think, but it’s about having the confidence to say they’re wrong when they make false assumptions. I think that’s the balance of caring and being fearless. It’s about knowing your worth, your strengths and your weaknesses. We’re all at different places in loving ourselves and discovering what that even means. Be honest with yourself, and where you are at in your own journey.