Hello everyone and welcome back to My Blurred World.
I hope you’re all doing well.
As you can tell by the title, today’s post is all about confidence. I wanted to share my story with you because I believe confidence is something a lot of people struggle with, if you struggle with confidence yourself I want you to know that you are definitely not alone.
I’ve never been the most confident of people, ever since I started school when I was only two and a half years of age, I was always the quiet one, I’m not quite sure why this was.
As I was growing up my confidence didn’t really grow with me, I was always quiet and shy and it was almost like I was in my own little shell, I didn’t really let anyone in, not that many people tried anyway.
I’m not trying to blame my lack of confidence on anything but I do believe that my visual impairment has always played a part in me not being to express myself in the way I wanted to. I can’t see people when I walk into a room, I was never able to see my friends when walking into the school yard and this made me feel really anxious, I felt like people didn’t understand, they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t go up to them and talk to them but the reality is that I just couldn’t see them to do so, that’s still true to this day. I didn’t fully understand my disability as a child, I knew people treated me differently and I wasn’t quite sure why and this really affected me. I felt isolated and different to everyone else (I don’t now) but back then when I was a child, I did and there was nothing I could do about that.
Bullying was a huge factor as to why I wasn’t able to get out of my own little bubble, there were these two girls in primary school who thought bullying me because of my disability was fun, they made fun of me because I wore sunglasses that didn’t look ‘normal’, they told me that I looked ugly, they laughed at me, pushed me in the corridor and this affected me so much, there was nothing I could do about it.
I don’t want to centre this post on my visual impairment because that’s not what it’s about but it was one of the main factors as to why I’ve not been able to express myself in the way I want to. People my age have always seen me differently to them because of my sight loss and this made me feel isolated and lonely.
I’ve always been confident in my own home, I can talk very openly with my parents, brother and two nans, confidence is never an issue when I’m with them. People always ask me ‘are you like this at home?’ (shy that is) and my answer would always be ‘no’ and this would shock them. People would always think why I wasn’t as confident out in public as I was with my own family but I guess the main reason for that would be that certain individual would treat me differently and this just made me feel small and it didn’t allow me to express my true self.
I started going to an acting/dancing/singing group when I was about 10/11 years old to see if this would improve my confidence, it didn’t. I was bullied there too, girls from the class would always talk about me, thinking I couldn’t hear them when I could hear every mean word they said about me, some people just don’t understand that it’s my vision that is impaired and not my hearing. I attended these classes with my friends who were a year younger than me, it helped that they were there but it didn’t make the feeling of isolation any less. I remember feeling sick because I didn’t want to go to the rehearsals as I didn’t want to face the girls who looked down on me and treated me as I were something they stepped in on the street. I did enjoy performing but I was glad when I quit those classes after our first show as I felt free, I didn’t have to face those girls every week anymore and I felt relieved because of that. That relief didn’t last long though as they attended the same high/secondary school as myself and we were put in the same class, I heard them pointing out that I was the different one in the class, I was the quiet one who couldn’t see. As they told this to my fellow classmates I felt like I couldn’t express myself with anyone else because of what these people had said about me. When I heard all the things they said about me behind my back (thinking I couldn’t hear them) I always wanted to answer them back and ask them how they’d feel if they were in my shoes but I couldn’t. I couldn’t physically get my words out, I felt intimidated and I thought if I told them what I was feeling, they’d laugh and the situation would get worse so I kept it all to myself. The way I was treated by some people (emphasis on the ‘some’ because not all were the same) didn’t change from the day I started in year 7 to the day I finished year 13, their attitude remained the same and although my confidence did grow during my time at school, they never realised it and always treated me as if I were a child.
There were some people in my year that I felt I could talk to and be myself with but that number of people was very limited. From year 8 onwards I was friends with people in the year below me, I was able to be myself with these people but it didn’t help my confidence when it came to talking with people my year because they thought I was odd because I spent break and lunch time with people who weren’t the same age as myself but that was ok because I was able to be myself with those people and that’s all that mattered to me.
This is turning into a story of my time at school, I apologise for that but my confidence did depend on a lot of things that went on during my time at school so that’s why these stories involve education.
When I reached year 12 I became friends with a girl who also had a disability, hers was more physical but I could relate to her and we talked a lot about living with a disability, bullying, how people treated us etc. This really helped me, I was able to talk openly with her without a care in the world, I was the real me when talking to her, I was the more confident me and I like when that side of me comes out. It’s always there, it’s just hard for me to express it sometimes.
As I said there are certain people I am completely myself with and there are certain situation where I can be the real me. When I attended youth club we used to practice acting for a performance we did annually and in these practices I was the real Elin, I got into character, I talked loudly and confidently and I enjoyed doing that. I’m not allowed to attend that club anymore as I’m now eighteen and some things have to come to an end when you enter the world of adulthood but I’m glad I was able to be myself in something I enjoyed so much.
Over the past few years I have become more confident, although some people still point out that I am quite shy, I am ten times more confident than I was about five years ago. I do suffer from anxiety and social anxiety so this doesn’t help but as I’ve now entered the world of work I can only hope that my confidence will continue to grow.
Gaining confidence isn’t easy, I still struggle with it every single day but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made over the years and I’m going to continue to push myself to show people who think I’m shy that I am definitely not, I can be loud, I can be confident, I just need to show more of that side of me and prove people wrong. It’s not easy, I’ve come across so many hurdles and barriers and so many bumps in the road but I know it’s possible and I’m going to try my very best to push myself and prove that I am confident, I might not seem it but once you get to know the real me, you’ll agree that isn’t true.
I know that the confidence is there, it’s buried deep in me sometimes and yes I can be in my shell occasionally but trust me, I do come out, the people who know me, know that.
Confidence isn’t an easy thing to gain, it’s taken me years and years to reach where I am now, I might not have the confidence that I wish I had but you never know, maybe in a few years time or even a few months time, I will have. I am going to push myself a little every so often and I will strive to have the confidence I want to have, if I can be confident with the people I feel comfortable with then there’s nothing stopping me from going that extra mile and becoming my confident self with other people around me also, I know I still have quite a road ahead of me but I also know that this is possible and if it’s possible for me then it’s possible for anyone else who might be struggling with confidence, believe you me.
Thank you all so much for reading today’s post, I know it was very long but if you read it all then thank you. This was quite a hard post for me to write but I’m happy I did write it as it helps to write your feelings down on a page sometimes. Do get in contact with me if you have any comments or if you struggle with confidence yourself, I want you to know that I’m always here, we can help and support each other, you are never alone.
My battle with confidence is far from over but I know that eventually I will win, confidence is not the ruler. It will take time but confidence or lack of confidence will never get the better of me.