“Who am I?” is a question that runs through my mind daily. I have always struggled to figure out my identity, what defines me, and what I am truly passionate about, even to this day. Growing up, I switched schools often, which definitely affected my personality. Moreover, not sticking around in one place for a long period of time didn’t allow me to show my true self to anyone, and I became reserved. This led me to be seen by many as the shy, quiet girl, with some people even believing I was mean because of my restrained nature. It wasn’t until I finally started high school that I made long term friends who would describe me as funny, loud, nice and even clumsy.
I’m sure many of us have had this experience where we give off a certain image in the beginning, but once someone gets to know us better we’re like a completely different person. In thinking about the way we are viewed from the perspective of our friends, family, social media, strangers and even ourselves, we are often presented with a variety of different views and images. This reality can be a little overwhelming, because all of a sudden we begin to question who we really are. Consequently, all of these questions surrounding how to determine what our true identity is can hold us back from reaching our full potential.
This image that we have of ourselves is known as our self-concept. Our self-concept is how we perceive our behaviors, abilities and unique characteristics, and it affects our motivations, attitudes and behaviors. Furthermore, our self-concept develops through the interactions we have with the people around us. Social media, especially these days, also heavily influences our self-perception. Social media trends are constantly changing, and sometimes this affects our mental health. If we feel that we don’t follow the current trend then we can feel like we don’t fit in. Many influencers promote the highly unrealistic beauty standards of having a small waist and wide hips. With that, influencers also often promote the idea that this body can be achieved by working out and although that may work for some it still affects many young girls' mental health.
This beauty standard leaves many young women feeling insecure about their self-image simply because they do not fit the mold that these influencers have.
So how exactly can we change our self-concept so that we can unlock a happier and more confident person?
First and foremost, we can begin to fix our self-concept by avoiding negative self-talk. Sometimes our biggest critic is ourselves and that shouldn’t be the case. I know we all have our bad days, but if we constantly are telling ourselves negative things like we’re not good enough, then we’ll never have the confidence to go after anything we want. Although it may be cheesy, one way to avoid negative self-talk is by looking in the mirror every morning and saying something positive about yourself. You could also write positive affirmations on sticky notes and post them on the mirror or somewhere visible as reminders.
Another thing you could also do is make a list of qualities you see in yourself and another list with qualities you want. For example:
I am smart.
I am beautiful.
I am confident.
I am adventurous.
When you make the first list it is alright to list your flaws. In fact, it can be healthy to list our flaws or something we don’t like about ourselves because then we acknowledge them and can either improve on it or learn to accept it. Making these two lists can help you visualize the person you want to be and help boost your confidence. I used to think lowly of myself, and sometimes I still have my moments, but I have found that making a list of qualities I like about myself and another with qualities I want to have, have helped my self-esteem.
Pro-tip: you can either write a list daily or repeat your list daily.
As mentioned, the people in our lives have an impact on our self-perception. That being said, you may want to consider removing any people in your social circle that you feel aren’t helping your self-esteem. Perhaps, you have or have had friends that judge your fashion style, resulting in a lower self-confidence. Now, rather than remaining true to yourself, you may instead always be caring about how others view you. Besides reevaluating people from your social circle you could also remove influencers you may follow or simply take social media breaks.
Once we start believing more in ourselves and practicing self-care, our self perception improves which in turn unlocks more opportunities for us. You will begin to feel more motivated and confident to tackle goals you've been wanting to achieve. I know it is easier said than done, but with time and dedication to reshaping how you view yourself, there will be improvement. Fixing our self-concept is really all about regaining confidence, being true to ourselves, and developing a strong sense of self-love. Furthermore, when we start being true to ourselves we can unlock paths to opportunities we may have never considered before because we didn't believe in ourselves. Revaluating our self-concept can also allow us to find what we’re passionate about again. As they say, our biggest critic is usually ourselves, but we need to learn to be kinder and believe more in ourselves. This all begins by changing our self-concept and returning to the person we know we are and can be and not the person we are told by others that we are. Once you start having a more positive self-perception you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.