In 6 THINGS I LOVE TO DO SOLO THAT MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOTALLY JUDGE ME FOR, I talked about how much I absolutely enjoy taking myself out on playdates. Whether it’s to the movies, to dinner, or to a concert, I take good care of myself on these solo-outings. 💃
One of these playdates took me to a weekly get-together that includes painting, meditation, and jam sessions. I knew no one the first time I attended, but every week, there are new faces who I not only expect to see, but who also expect to see me.
One week, there was an unfamiliar face that did not strike my fancy. She was awkward—not the artsy, intellectual, or intriguing kind of awkward. I mean, just really terribly awkward. Like me, she had attended the event alone, but unlike me, she spent most of the night tucked away in a corner of the room clutching her bag for dear life.
Most of us don’t battle with this level of social awkwardness and shyness, but we have all taken a blow or two to our self-confidence that led us to do silly things, like settle for less than we deserved at work or in relationships, get a ridiculous haircut, or spend an unforgivable amount of money on everything from shoes to ice cream to tech gear.
These moments are short-lived for me, and I very quickly come to my senses. Nevertheless, I am inspired by the youthful confidence of the other people at this weekly event—especially the ones who have the guts to get up on stage during jam sessions, and belt out nonsensical lyrics on purpose, without giving a flying fig what others think.
If you’ve felt your confidence slipping for any reason lately, I’m not here to reiterate generic motivational mumbo-jumbo i.e. you are beautiful and unique and perfect as is. I’m here to provide tips I used myself for creating a you that you don’t need to be brainwashed into liking. Keep in mind that I am not a life coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, or psychologist—just a happy person spreading my source of cheer.
1. Work Out
In my opinion, there are two times a woman is most concerned about her appearance. The first is when she is barely a woman, ie a teenager or young adult. The second is when she begins to feel her years upon her.
Men, I think, care most about their appearance from their teens until around their middle-aged years when they begin to let themselves go, especially if they’re already married or in a committed relationship—just as we’re ready to perk up again!
Whether male or female, however, when we begin to feel uncomfortable in our own bodies, I believe working out can make all the difference. As we all know, during workouts, the body releases chemicals known as endorphins that boost your mood. You’ll also feel good knowing you’re doing something about your dissatisfaction, and will feel even better when you—or those around you—notice the results of your efforts.
If the mere thought of the gym makes you want to free-fall off a cliff, then keep in mind that there are plenty of other ways to work out. You can go kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, running, biking, hiking, climbing, and dancing. There’s no need to ever set foot inside a gym, if you don’t want to.
2. Eat Healthy
Working out alone, however, often does not bring the desired results. This is especially true when our concerns are more related to health than cosmetics. Maybe you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. These conditions tend to require special diets.
But, even without health complications, eating healthy is a necessary part of being healthy. This doesn’t mean that you must always skip dessert—I certainly never do—or stop eating carbs. It does, however, mean that you should make healthier choices when preparing or ordering meals. For instance:
- Substitute carbs with veggies, when you can.
- Pick white meat or seafood over red meat.
- If you go for the salad, don’t then douse it with salad dressing, sour cream, and cheese.
- Drink less soda and juice; drink more water.
- If you know you love to snack, develop a taste for healthy snacks, such as mandarins, strawberries, and almonds.
3. Read More
Have you ever been to a social gathering and there’s that one guy or gal who always has something meaningful to add to a conversation? I don’t mean the ones blabbing about sports or reality TV. I mean the people who seem to know not only what’s going on in world affairs now, but even how it parallels with events that happened a hundred years ago. You can almost bet your life savings that these people are readers.
If you’re not keen on reading every history book in your library and you’ve lost track of all the current political melodrama, fret not. According to Keith Oatley, award-winning novelist and cognitive psychology professor emeritus at the University of Toronto:
People who read fiction may understand people better than others. A work of fiction is a piece of consciousness that can pass from one mind to another and that reader can make it their own.
However, reading has more value beyond navigating social obligations, or even enriching the mind. It’s also a great way to quell the self-doubts you may have as a parent. Several studies in America and Australia have confirmed that reading aloud to children strengthened the relationship between parent and child, and increased parents’ feelings of competency.
4. Try Something New
Sometimes you may start to lose your zest for life with no clear reason. You may feel confused or even ungrateful. Your finances are alright, work is good, the kids are doing great, and you have a happy relationship—or you’re perfectly happy with being single!
Whenever I find myself in this rut, I know I’ve fallen into a predictable routine, especially one that involves far too much work and far too little play. The ultimate cure, then, is to switch things up a bit by trying something new.
However, there is no reason to wait until you hit that rut to try new things. I generally keep adding new tweaks to my schedule every so often to keep things interesting. Here is a list of some of the new things I did in the past year alone that may inspire your own list of things to try:
- I took a solo trip to New England last fall.
- I wrote and have almost published a novel (available for pre-order!)
- I took up painting and now go every week.
- I bought a bike and have been taking it around the block and on trails for about a month now.
- I bought a car (significant because I had never owned one before)
- I’m going on a cruise this year (never been!)
5. Choose Better Company
Recently, on Facebook, one of the my friends joked about how in America people will say, “Yeah, let’s hang out!” and then in the bottom was a picture of Pinocchio’s nose growing to incredible lengths. I’m sure this happens to some degree in every culture, but I’ve noticed that particularly in America, people seem to have a hard time saying “no”. It’s better to be perceived as polite than honest, is the cultural trend I’ve noticed.
This causes many people—American and otherwise—to hang on to bad relationships, or feel responsible for childhood friends who can never seem to get it together. No one wants to be that person accused of deserting another friend during a tough time, or of moving up and cutting ties. However, don’t allow other people to manipulate you into sacrificing your peace of mind. If it’s no longer a healthy connection and the person isn’t taking responsibility for their actions, cut them loose.
Just as important is filling those vacancies with people who genuinely motivate and encourage you and want to see you at your best. Often times those people are already in your life, but it’s easy not to notice them when the toxic people have so much drama to heap at your feet.
And, even more important than finding positive people to populate your social circles is learning to appreciate your own company and to become a positive person, yourself. After all, yours is the one company you will never get rid of. You might as well make it the best company you’ll ever have.
Have you been battling with feelings of insecurity lately? Did any of these tips work for you in the past? Or, do you have other effective ways of killing your Debbie Downer alter ego when she shows up? Tell me all about it in the comments below!