Volume 97 Issue 4 Campus Spin

Self confidence in college, a journey through students’ eyes

by Lillian Stroup

I found myself on top of a mountain on Friday, metaphorically and literally. I had gone for a drive and found myself on a trail leading up to an overlook. Once I got there, I felt more confident than ever before that I could make it through whatever obstacles I came across.

Staring out at the lake in front of me calmed doubts that I had about myself. I remembered exactly who I was. The past week had been filled with doubts about nearly everything I had done, and that day I decided that pity wasn’t the answer. Having faith in my abilities was the answer.

“Confidence symbolizes self-esteem, being able to be proud of yourself and your achievements,” says Calvin Liu, a sophomore with a POE in environmental science. “Being able to walk down the street and do what you want to do and not caring about what other people think is what confidence is about.”

However, when confidence becomes arrogance, Liu recommends that people “take into consideration some other people’s opinions. If it’s a negative opinion,” he continues, shaking his head, “the kind of stuff you don’t need in your life, don’t consider the negativity. Keep going in your life.”

Heather Gahler, a senior with a POE in communication, says, “Confidence means not letting your insecurities affect your everyday life and what you want to do. You can never completely get rid of your insecurities, but confidence should be larger than your insecurities.”

Here at Juniata, we have a wide range of people. Some loud, some quiet. Some dreaming of being someone else, others comfortable in their own skin. Dalaina Ecker, a first-year student with a POE in biochemistry, observes confident people at Juniata as “Walking with their shoulders back, chest puffed out and head up. They don’t care (about other’s opinions) but at the same time everything about them exudes so much respect for themselves.”

To Liu, however, confidence stretches deeper than the expressions one gives off. It is more about the expressions that one gives intentionally. “For me, it’s not how you walk down the street, it’s how you hold yourself. It’s when you do things with the conviction that it needs to be done.”

Then again, acting confident can be worlds apart from truly being confident. “People can act confident in that they put off this aura that says ‘I’m fine, nothing bothers me,’ and then you get them alone and they’re like ‘I can’t do this, I hate myself,’” says Gahler. “Being confident is when the person you present is the person you really are inside.”

If one is acting confident without really feeling like it, tricks for boosting your self-confidence can be as easy as Gahler’s confidence-boosting strategy. “Fake it until you make it,” states Gahler positively. “Before interviews or a test, or anything, really, spread your legs shoulder-length wide, put your hands on your hips, look in the mirror and say ‘I’m very pretty, I am great at communicating, I am very charming and people like me.’ You can do that every single day.”

If students are able to give advice on how to build self-confidence, they must have had to go through periods of self-reflection. Ecker’s transition from high school to college seems to be her main leap of confidence in the past year. “I can say that my self-confidence has improved a lot since high school. It’s nice to get away from all of the people that I’ve known my whole life. I feel like a new person, and I have more ability to build myself up rather than tear myself down. The fresh start, the new people, being on my own, I finally feel like it’s my life, I have the control.”

“I had a huge exponential curve,” concludes Gahler, laughing. “I think my confidence has evolved, in that I no longer care quite so much of what people think of me, but I still try to look nice and be a good person. My confidence has also increased; I know the insecurities that I had in high school, and they’re not as big as they were. My apathy has grown a lot,” she says jokingly. “Now, I no longer care about other people’s opinions.”

Liu warns us about outside opinions affecting our self confidence. “Confidence is hurt by people who will just criticize you and not give you anything to improve yourself with as a person. If those are the kind of people that are in your life you need to cut them out, because that is what will really hurt your self confidence.”

Having self-confidence is a lifelong process for most, and acquiring it involves introspection, patience and recognizing personal achievements. Learning to love oneself is one of the most important aspects of confidence.

Even if you already feel confident in yourself, stand in front of that mirror and compliment yourself on whatever flaws you think you might have. Build your confidence up, so that one day, even a comment about your worst flaw seems laughable.

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