For my birthday, I wanted to reflect on confidence and what it means to me. I remember watching a Slumber Party episode with Shameless Maya and Shannon Boodram. They invited Timothy DeLaGhetto and Winnie Harlow to talk about confidence. At one point, Winnie Harlow was asked about what it meant for her. She said the following: “I was born with it, then I lost it and gained it back by deciding my original idea of myself was more important and more relevant.” I want to use this post to talk more about what this quote means to me. Also, I want to shed light on how I relate to it reflecting on my own confidence throughout my life. Buckle up, it’s going to be a wild one!
what is confidence?
When we talk about self-confidence, we talk about an attitude about your skills and abilities. When you have this confidence within yourself, you accept, trust yourself and have a sense of control in your life. You know your strengths and weakness well, and have a positive view of yourself. By being aware of your assets and flaws, you are able to set realisting expectation or goals. Additionally, you know how to communicate assertively instead of passively and can actually handle criticism.
“I was born with it [confidence]”
I was definitely born with it. When my parents talk about me as a young girl, they would say bold, special and free. They would say I was a wonderful and curious child. That I would just speak to anyone and end up befriending the whole neighborhood or restaurant. For example, we used to live in Rome, Italy and my parents didn’t even speak Italian. So, your girl, who currently works as an interpreter (*surprise, surprise*) would do ALL the talking.
Additionally, I befriended adults from the neighborhood who were impressed by me and would spoil me with candy and gifts. Lastly, there are plenty of other stories of me as a little girl. Like walking around while at the restaurant with my parents and ending up with a bunch of new friends. I am certain that today, I would not even dare. A memorable thing was that some friends of my parents never wanted to have kids, until they met me. I wish I could meet this version of myself. Just to see what that pure confidence looks like and how it evolved within me.
“then I lost it”
I think I was 8 years old when I started “losing” it. I remember sitting in class and writing Khady Sow on my paper. A boy in my class corrected me, saying that’s not how you spell “so”, yes insert an eyeroll. I talked too much in class and kept other kids from concentrating on their work. That is also what I would be remembered by during elementary school.
A great turning point was in Highschool. This boy in my class who would say my lips were too big and my skin was too dark. Another boy in my class would tell me what to say in response to this other boy. I remember being at home and thinking long and hard about this. We’ve all been there, thinking of comebacks way after confrontation. This is what I came up with: there is no way in hell I am important enough to hurt this boy in class with my (unimportant) opinion. However, I thought that it automatically meant that his (unimportant) opinion should NOT matter to me either.
From that moment on, I stopped caring about other people’s opinions about me. Interestingly, it seems like this exudes, because people started to compliment me more and more. What also helped was writing down significant compliments and reading them when I was sad or feeling down. I loved the compliments about me being funny and having a radiant and contageous personality. Sometimes I meet this version of myself and that is totally okay. As long as I also remember that there are still pure confident parts in me too.
“and gained it back by deciding my original idea of myself was more important and more relevant.”
Thankfully, I decided my validation of myself was all that really mattered. No matter how many compliments I will get, what I think of myself will always hold more value. I continued becoming my own person and did more of what I loved. Traveling to Senegal much more often did me good, I did photography and eventually started Senegalese Twisted which has been very rewarding. I still talked too much in class. But me talking too much took me to my blog over to YouTube to a NYT-interview and so many other dope experiences and long-lasting friendships. That is what I want to be remembered by.
One time a girl didn’t believe me when I said I grew up in Rome. I told her that it wasn’t my job to convince her it was true and I didn’t care it she believed me or not. This showed me that I was confident enough about my experience that I didn’t need this girls validation. I was perfectly okay with whatever other people thought of me. To me, the girl doubting my experiences didn’t say anything about me or the truthfulness of my experiences. It simply implies that there are people who would possibly consider lying about such things in order to fit in. But not me.
Despite all my experiences, they have shaped me to who I am today. And it is with a lot of confidence that say that I have always been myself and myself only. I honestly found it more rewarding to express myself than to impress other people. However, sometimes I was more confident in myself than other times, but that is definitely okay.
You may have noticed that I did not take any pictures for this blog. Instead, I decided to make three different collages that corresponded with the three parts of the quote. I tried to use similar elements too: myself, flowers and birds.
collage 1: The white flower and birds represent the purity of [confidence] you’re born with. When it is still yours to explore. The picture of myself was actually my Italian passport picture.
collage 2: The pastel-colored flowers represent the opinions that are starting to leak into your original [confidence]. The picture of myself was when I was in class with that boy.
collage 3: Eventually, the sunflower represents me. Sunflowers always face the sun, but if they can’t face the sun, they just face eachother. My [confidence] may have been subjected by other people’s opinions. However, it is NOT contaminated by it. In this picture I used a collage of myself, just to emphasize that I consist of multiple parts of me. Which is totally fine.