High school is a scary four years. More often than not, my dad lovingly refers to it as the Jungle, and then talks about how all my life choices will eventually lead to college, which will then proceed to be the next tedious and lonely eight years because I will be stuck in Brown doing the PLME.
For all of you who are shy and scared, never fear! We can both do with a confidence boost that doesn’t come in the form of booze, drugs, or copious amounts of sugar!
That’s right, boys. My guide is better than getting drunk.
Personally, I believe in self-medication. Because it works. Really well. Most of the time. When I say self-medication, I don’t mean stealing OTCs and popping them like IB students pop Adderall, but natural, homeopathic methods, and changes in frequent habits and activities that will genuinely make you feel better about yourself and about going outside in public.
If you’re one of those people like me, who are so introverted that it physically hurts to approach someone first to make small talk, you’re probably also one of those people who are terrified of people reading your journal. As in, more than just terrified. You will literally have a mental breakdown if someone reads your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
I know. I’ve been there. My dad gave me a journal and told me to write whatever I wanted in it. My mom read it, and she was furious about what I wrote. The problem is that maybe she’s right. Maybe I never should have said those things. But I can’t control my thoughts and reactions. That journal wasn’t supposed to be read by anyone. It was a physical manifestation of my innermost conscious thoughts, the thoughts that would never come out of my mouth because I still care about my health and well being and the health and well being of the people around me. It was never meant to be seen by anyone other than myself. That wasn’t the point of having a journal.
My point is, you need to have an outlet. Writing is perhaps the easiest and most convenient way. You can find a quiet corner, and spill your emotions out onto a napkin (I do it sometimes: here and here) and throw it away later. You can blog, but never tell anyone you know about it (example: this).
It’s important to spill your secrets–maybe not the deepest, darkest ones like this guy’s, but the little ones that are cluttering up your head and weighing down your shoulders. If you feel uncomfortable writing in a journal or talking to a therapist or counselor, go on Omegle and hit “Text Only” and find a sympathetic soul. Rant to the world, a world of invisible strangers.
2. Make lists.
I think lists are soothing. They help me organize my thoughts and feel more in control of the situation (example: this and that). I don’t know if everyone is the same way, but find something that will make you feel more in control. Part of why you feel so down all the time is because you feel out of control and unable to stop spiraling downwards. Find the one thing that makes you feel strong and cling to it.
It is never good to feel out of control. Ever.
3. Join something that requires speaking to people. Alone.
This year, I joined Debate. I was in Oratory and LD, and, man, was I horrible my first few tourneys. I was still figuring everything out, opening up, and learning how to utilize my room to my best ability.
Look, I know it sucks, and I know it’s scary, but the only way to improve your self-confidence is if you pretty much step off the deep end and act like something you’re not (i.e. a confident extrovert). Eventually, you’ll adapt and it won’t be nearly as tiring. It will never not be tiring, but at least you’ll be more comfortable being around people in your own skin.
4. Accept Facebook friend requests.
Of people you know. Of course. Don’t accept requests from people you’ve never met or heard of because that’s never safe.
Not only is this an excellent tool for networking for the future, expanding your social circle forces you to learn how to not be that awkward loner in the room. You learn how to interact with others and eventually you will begin to imitate your friends’ mannerisms and mimic their patterns. Soon enough, you’ll know enough to be able to differentiate between what you should do and what you shouldn’t do in order to be accepted into society.
“Being accepted into society? I thought you were all for standing out!”
Yeah, but the problem is, your self-confidence is so shot that you need as many people to like you as possible to prove to yourself that you are lovable. Then we can work on making you an awesome, unique person who defies stereotypes and champions the progressive. Or, if you want to do it now, here’s how.
But in case you teal deer’d, now is really not the right time to be an asocial person.
5. Have nightly sob sessions with Facebook friends about IB.
This…may or may not relate to you, but my friends and I have entire pages on Facebook dedicated to helping each other and reminding each other about deadlines and the horrors of International Baccalaureate. Hell, this blog exists in part to motivate me to work.
Yeah. Anyway, find things you have in common with others. It will help you garner attention and feel less alone about your hobbies
(shipping, webcomics, yaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooo-shot-). This will result in your increased openness about yourself and your passions, allowing you to figure out what you want to do in the future, who you want to ingratiate yourself with, and how to make yourself feel less like a worm and more like a human being.
6. Share coffee and food.
Make friends. It’s that simple. I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t vouch for that, but if you have food, you are instantly over 9000 times more popular than you were fifteen seconds ago.
7. Make sure people know about your writing and your lists.
I think I just contradicted myself. No I didn’t.
After a while, when you’re feeling comfortable in your own skin, it’s time to take it to the next step: letting people know that you’re out and proud. Tell your friends all about your lists and your blogs. Let them ask questions and have a time where you do Q&As and FAQs.
The best way to be able to tell that you are a new, improved, confident person is to say “Goddammit, I love who I am, and I want you to know about who I am so that you can decide if you like it.” If they like it, then they are your true friends. If they don’t like it, dump them. If they are anything in the middle, then they should be considered anything in between true friends and those bastards who don’t like your true self.
It’s time to spread your wings and fly!
8. Watch YouTube videos about culturally relevant shit, people vlogging, fun, and social pep talks.
9. Run for office.
Whether it’s state level, national, or just in your high school, this is the final step, and the way you know that you’ve succeeded in upping your self-confidence to sky high levels. You’re popular, and you know it, but you’re still humble about it. Never lose sight of who you are. Just realize that you should love who you are and be proud of who you are.
It won’t be easy, and you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to be exhausted. It’s not going to give you perfect results because of who you are as a person. Nonetheless, you are going to feel better at the end of it. Think of it as a long, painful workout meant to make you a healthier person.
Most importantly, love yourself. Billy Joel and Bruno Mars agree: