On our team at SUCCESS, people seem to think of me as being really confident. But they don’t know about the winding road that led to my confidence.
Related: 8 Ways to Be a More Confident Person
Like most kids growing up, I found myself on the receiving end of my classmates’ mockery. My hair, clothes, even my living arrangements with my grandparents were not off-limits. The constant onslaught of negative energy led me to be very self-critical and created a lot of doubts for my younger self. Perfectionism was my answer to counterbalance the ridicule of others. But it limited me. I stayed in my comfort zone and avoided challenges, thinking it would spare me from judgment and failure. This did nothing but increase my frustration and lower my ambition.
The wisdom of my grandmother was the major influence to shift my mindset and move me toward greater self-belief. One day she told me to remember this above all else: Know yourself. To know yourself, you must be fully comfortable with who you are and the choices you make. Your opinion about yourself is the only one that matters. Do not fall into the trap of trying to fit everybody else’s image of an ideal person. The moment you decide to be comfortable with who you are, you will notice the love for yourself increase. You view every failure as a learning experience and use that knowledge to help you succeed next time. You are not afraid to face challenges that are set before you.
This ability to know and love myself has substantially increased my confidence. I always think of that conversation with my grandmother. From then on, I decided to no longer fear negative comments or experiences.
This surge in self-confidence also led to my proudest moment in life yet—buying my grandmother a new car. At first I thought there was no way I could afford this dream. I have the same debts and bills and problems as anyone in their mid-20s. But I know myself. I know I have the ability to create opportunities to make extra money on the side. I know I can reconfigure my budget. And I know seeing happiness on my grandmother’s face is a sight that few things can rival. With all of this knowledge about myself, how can I fail?
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.