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Wana Wana: 6 Tips to Crush Insecurity & Boost Your Confidence

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Lately I have been receiving tonnes of emails and equally having lots of conversations about confidence and how little of it there seems to be. I am coming to the realisation that much like a lot of things, we trivialise it all by making it about the peripheral – getting a new wardrobe, or a body overhaul, buying a new car, flying business class, or entering a new social circle. I’m not saying that these things aren’t confidence builders but I think it does go a little deeper. In fact I think it goes a lot deeper.

There are many experiences that had not only rocked my confidence but had also robbed me of it at different stages of my life. What’s interesting though is that you don’t even realise it when it is happening to you. The worse part is when you discover that your lack of confidence and insecurity consumes you so much that your whole existence is motivated by trying to prove a point. In other words, your need to overdo everything or outdo everyone easily becomes your mask and coping mechanism.

I would later come to understand that it was just me giving my insecurities way too much power to reign supreme. This isn’t to say that I don’t struggle. I still do, but it is safe to say my good days are topping my bad days.

I don’t think that confidence is always necessarily an innate quality and neither do I think it’s solely attributed to great parenting. I do think that the fact you haven’t always been confident doesn’t mean you can’t become confident or teach yourself to get beyond your insecurities.

So,here are some ways to boost your confidence.

Do Not Let Anything Define You
I remember growing up. We were the typical middle class Nigerian family. We owned our own house in an estate; had a few cars including the Sunday Mercedes Benz; driver; housekeepers; went to good school; parents travelled abroad. We were ok.

Then my parent’s marriage ended, and so did our lives. Well, at least the posher portion of it. As a new kid in secondary school, it wasn’t the best time to transition from being the posh kid to being the broke kid – as though adolescent insecurities weren’t enough.

All I remember was just feeling constantly insecure about any and everything. Having to get on public transport, begging your friends for a lift home or sometimes having someone sit on your lap in the bus because you couldn’t afford the bus fare, bringing Richoco and Cowbell instead of Milo and Peak milk. Yes, it sounds shallow but it was a big deal then. I think in my head I probably felt everyone was making fun of me for some reason. Those days my brother would often refer to it as poverty complex.

One minute your life is defined by all the things you had and the next minute you don’t have any of it and you lose all sense of identity.I was ten years old. So imagine the thirty-five year old in a powerful job position who loses their job, or the person heartbroken after one of those everyone knew us together type relationships.

I make it a habit to constantly ask myself the question who am I? And more importantly if I had everything stripped away, the job, the attention, the applause, the accolades, the people, or the noise, who would I be? It’s the only way I remind myself that my confidence shouldn’t be dictated by the things I have, or even the things I do, but rather consciously thinking about the content of my character and the value I can offer in whatever space I am placed in.

Do Something That Scares You
For me there is no confidence boost like surmounting a challenge. I remember one of my travels, skiing was included in the itinerary as a part of the group activities. I was frightened out of my mind about how silly I would look falling on my backside a few too many times.

As far as I was concerned skiing wasn’t for people like me.
I could have opted out if I wanted to but I did it anyway, and it felt so good afterwards.
I know how many times I have talked myself out of so many great ideas, great opportunities and even greater experiences, because I am scared that no one will show up, or listen, or watch it, or care about it, or understand it, or buy it.

Maybe who I am and the things I want didn’t matter. I would say to myself what if I make a complete fool of myself or I become a laughing stock? Well, what if you don’t? What is the worst that could happen? So you fail or you discover you are terribly bad at it.
Sometimes our fears are as little as saying hello to someone first, or asking a question that you seek answers to.

As our people say ‘At all at all na im bad pass’. At least you had the courage to try and you learned a few lessons along the way. Surely that counts for something. Once you get past one hurdle, you build the confidence to get through the next and it gets a little easier.

Every Once In a While, Lose Composure
If you have ever attended an acting class or watched one before, you will discover they are often given these weird exercises like jumping up and down aimlessly, rolling on the floor and sometimes instructed to bark like a dog. The idea is really to loosen them up and get them to become less self-conscious. I think there is a kind of confidence that comes from really being able to enjoy things and enjoy your self. Believe it or not, it seeps into everything else.

Everyone now knows me for jumping on the Afropolitan Vibes stage at Freedom Park doing the fire dance. Asides the fact that I have now become recognisable from behind, there is a certain freeing experience about being able to let go and just be. It translates into a burst of fearless energy – one that says you can go into the world and conquer without restriction. This isn’t me advocating that everyone start rump shaking at the slightest opportunity, but sometimes you need to throw away the composure, let loose and live a little.

Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company
I talk a lot about friendships and positive relationships, but I think it’s also important to get confortable in your own company. Go watch a movie by yourself sometimes. Go to a restaurant and order a meal by yourself or travel somewhere by yourself. I have found, from experience, that it helped me reflect even more and consequently increased my sense of self-awareness. It also helped with not needing people to constantly validate me. Most of all, I discovered there is an inner strength that comes with taking ownership of yourself and there is a certain confidence derived from knowing you are capable.

Re-evaluate and Re-affirm
As life goes insecurities can always overwhelm you, confidence waxes and wanes but you need to re-evaluate and re-affirm yourself. Whether you do that by learning new things, reading new material, or shouting out chants to yourself in the mirror, you just need to get up and keep it moving. My own personal mantra is that I have been placed here for a reason. I will be doing my creator a disservice and robbing the world of so many things by letting my insecurities affect my confidence to the point that I don’t live the best life I can. The other thing about affirmation is that you have to genuinely believe it. It’s not make-up that strips off with the water down the drain or a nice dress you take off at night. It’s not that kind of temporal confidence. This is the one that stays even after gravity has taken its course.

Own Your Story
I recently spoke to a lady over the radio who felt that she lacked confidence because she always felt like a “Village Girl’ as a result of her rural up bringing. She didn’t feel cool enough so was too timid to speak because she feared she would make a fool of herself. For this same reason she didn’t try out new experiences either.

Sometimes, we don’t realise that our greatest asset can just be our own unique experiences and being ourselves. We are constantly learning from one another through our lives and experiences and as we all know knowledge is power and surely there is power in confidence. Comedians have been making money from their stories for centuries. Ask the late Richard Pryor and all the Warri comedians cleaning out from packed arenas. Owning your story sometimes even makes you more endearing and humane to others,sometimes even inspiring. This means there is nothing to be ashamed off, talk more of making it an insecurity.

I think that the mind is one of the most powerful tools we could ever own. This means you constantly have to wield it to your will. It is a lot of work but as they say impossible is just a word.

Feel free to share the experiences that have shaken your confidence and tips for rebuilding.

19 Comments

  1. Ada

    October 10, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Wana, Thanks for these tips to boost my confidence. It really inspired me .

  2. temitope

    October 10, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Nice post wana. Your articles never fall to inspire me. u’re such a deep person and a realist too.
    In our present society, being self confidence irrespective of the things we have or don’t have seems very challenging. especially as everyone and everything is materialistic. It takes a lot of nerves to be able to define ourselves without material attachment or social class.

  3. Isioma

    October 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Nice one. Will try the hanging out alone aspect because I always believe I can only have fun with people around.

  4. Carliforniabawler

    October 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Mehn!! This came at an awesome time…cliche I know…but it did!! Recent events have attempted to shake/ shaken my self-confidence….in fact!
    Pressures from a project at work were mounting to unbelievable degrees, my boss had been having an attitude, picking on me and constantly trying to make me look unintelligent…..and next thing man wahala come develop! Chai!! I literally saw red. Usually I can sacrifice a week or so to ‘mourn’ a dude or tend to emotional issues, but this time i couldn’t even spare a day sef. Imagine trying to beat a deadline on a sunday at 1am and next thing you check your phone and realize your ass has been dumped…. Mehn! I weak!! I couldn’t have cared less about a situation like that if I wasn’t already in a bad place (no be today, plus I already saw it coming, he only beat me to it cos i’ve been overwhelmed by work for the last 3months).
    Anyway, all I know is that my knee-jerk reaction was to play solitaire for a few minutes (weird, I know!!), blank out everything that was going on, and then I began reaffirm my self-worth in who God says I am….It was hard, really hard, but omo I didn’t have a better option, it was either that or I crash and burn, and loose out on my life’s goal along with the 4years of hard work and sacrifices I’ve invested…I chose to encourage myself in the Lord like David, lol and was all the better for it. I finished my presentation that night o.
    But life can be real shitty sha, like, you will just be going jejely, just dey jollof dey go and next thing the ‘universe’ will come and take a huge dump on your plate….. But like the gangster that I am, I’m finding to love myself, I’ve always enjoyed my own company….but all these life events can make you start doubting your value! But God dey! I refused to be defined by my crazy ass boss or a psychopathic ex-boyfriend!!
    Thank you jare Wana, given that I haven’t talked to anyone about this yet (and its been two weeks), my mini rant has been quite therapeutic 😀

    • Tincan

      October 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      A cuddle for ya’…

    • Spanish Guitar

      October 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      E-hugs for you dearie. You will be fine, just remember, “this too shall pass”.

  5. Moyo

    October 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

    thank you Wana, I can identify with your story. Totally loved it

  6. Lamie

    October 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    This couldnt have come at a better time.very much needed. Thank you Wana

  7. anonymous

    October 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    @californiabawlar…..you just wrote my story plus the boyfriend isn,he just stopped talking to me,day 1 i say are we ok,e says off course,day 3 i didn’t have much time to reflect on what is happiness,its still a bit weird…but I’m determined to move on,reevaluate and reaffirm biko

  8. x-factor

    October 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    this chic is simply intelligent!

  9. peculiar

    October 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    My insecurities began in 2nd year when everything I defined myself as changed; Smart & Brainy ( my GPA fell to a 1.2 no kidding), Tomboy ( I became the Miss UNN something that wasn”t planned. It was just the fall out of an adventure), decent and not the regular girl ( by the time I had some experiences, I began to doubt myself’).

    I was confused, insecure and a lot of things and I was ‘Popular’ so everyone could see my struggles and discuss them ( It didn’t matter that the everyone included less than 20% of the school). It was surprising to hear a classmate describe me as someone with no inferiority complex when I was struggling with my self esteem infact a friend of mine joked and said others might have low self esteem while i had a ‘non-existent self esteem’. So from personal experience, here are some tips;

    – Believe the compliments and have positive self talk;
    = You’re not alone; While there are bad people, there are also good people so reach out and let love and true friendship aid you.
    – Forgive and accept yourself; It is not your fault, you did the best you could at that time and while it didn’t turn out that well, learn the lessons and move on.
    – God’s working, give it time; It’s essential to trust that God knows what we’re going through and he’ll make something beautiful out of it. A good example is Wana who has blessed us with this article cos of her experience.
    – Get over yourself; Everybody isn’t talking about you, everybody isn’t laughing at you, everybody doesn’t like or hate you. Janet is wondering when Charles will propose, Kenneth is bothered about the next money making venture, Stella just wants to open her Make-up studio. What I’m trying to say is that people are thinking about themselves more than they think about you so get over yourself and when you do, spend time doing selfless acts for others, you’ll feel better.
    – Spoil yourself; you deserve it
    – Define yourself by God’s word: The book of Genesis says ‘God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good’. God made you and he sees you as very good and if God says it, who can dispute it?.

    • f8

      October 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      You totally described me! every single thing. Thank God i’m recovering

  10. Bullet

    October 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Best part that applied to me is “”Doing what scares you”….totally works for me and boosts my confidence anytime anyday.

    Drove from PH to Lagos early this year ( always wanted to do that) 5;30am to 1;12pm. I was so happy and elated …..the feeling was awesome and it boosted my confidence greatly.

    Next on my list is sky diving!!

  11. bees

    October 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Babe, are you sure you’re not me?

    I found out last week (on IG!) that I had been dumped and the next day I was fired. I had nothing left and God heard it from me enh. I was even asking him why he couldnt just space the calamities a little to give me time to adjust. It is what it is. I have decided not to let those things define me. Maybe I was travelling down the wrong road and needed resetting.

    I won’t lie and say I haven’t been feeling worthless, but the knowledge that it will be fine helps a little.

    • D

      October 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      I pray all goes well for you.

  12. TeawinePenner

    October 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    @Californiabawler, don’t lose your spirit!
    Stay focused and u’d get recognised for great work, eventually. I can tell you this for a fact! May not be at your current role, but you sure will!
    And a good guy would come along also!

    Great post, Wana. [email protected]…i can so relate!

  13. yeancah

    October 10, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    just what i needed… low self esteem can emanate from a lot of things.. ranging from job to relationships to friends and the likes… and naij situation ain’t helping matters one bit…. i suffered a lot from low self esteem but hid behind being a very blunt and funny girl… one thing i’ve learnt so far is never compare yourself with someone else cos you are unique and in wana’s words only you can write your story…..

  14. self esteem

    October 11, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Hope BN doesnt scrap my response as this is very touchy for me.
    I once had low self esteem issues. Quite frankly, I don’t know where it came from. I could speculate, but cant quite say this or that did me in. But how bad was it? I was in Engineering school. From car parking lot to class was about 1 mile distance. A straight forward path and the corner corner trip. I felt so inadequate, unequal, I would take the corner corner road for 3 yrs which was 1.5 miles longer than the straight road just to avoid people. And God forbid my friends invited me out to dinner. I always have a take home. I looked like a chop stick, I dont eat. I just have a high metabolism, but itd be a cold day in hell before you catch me eating outside much less eating at a restaurant by myself. I constantly worry someone is watching me eat, so I wait till I get home. So stupid, I know. Well, one day, I spoke to someone by Providence who told me, it matters not one iota what others think about you. Those words were about 8 yrs ago and it stuck to me like glue. All these constant worry what others thought or how they felt, the fuck for what? Besides if they do, who gives a damn? Point is, it doesn’t matter!!!. Stop taking yourself too seriously, be yourself, have fun, love yourself. Say, you are the best thing since slice bread, there are no fascades of you. You are your worst critic and greatest praise of your self worth. I see it like this, everyone has got some shit they are dealing with, some, their lives is so shitty, you’ll be thanking God for your sub par life. So stop complaining about your minute life. Make a mountain out of your mole. Make lemonade from your lemon. Goddamn, make it like your shit dont stink, don’t judge others, be the best you can be, dont measure yourself against someone else. They could be better or worse than you, but who gives a flying fuck, you are you, so make the best of you. I could go on, this is a very touchy topic for me, I know most Nigerian girls suffer from this, but enough is enough. Don’t ever ever ever feel bad about yourself and nobody on earth is better than you.

  15. self esteem

    October 11, 2014 at 4:05 am

    I told you this is very touchy!
    The other thing I thought of is that, other people make you feel shitty about yourself just so they can feel good about themselves. I’ve been a victim of this where others will put you down so they can boost their low self esteem. Cut those people out of your life like omishonwo (I hope I spelt it right). You may end up coming across as narcissistic, but there is a thin line between confident and narcissistic. Stay on the confident side. And ladies, when your see “the Jones’ cousin” rocking a guccci bag or some designer wear, don’t fk men so you can have these things, trust me, your coolness is not on trial. You can always without an ounce of doubt fish out the girls faking the fab life. Be yourself first, if you wanna add all these fab lifestyle thereafter, great, but know who you are first. Ladies, please know who you are. Not your name oh or where your mama came from, but who you really are. Everything else comes as an addition. This is my last epistle guys, I promise. I didn’t really grow up in Nigeria, but just the little part I had, definitely had some effect on me.

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