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External Factors that Play (Or Don’t Play) Into Confidence

I’ve been doing a lot of research and thinking about confidence and women’s empowerment lately in preparing the some recent magazine articles.  It’s led me to also be reflective.  I’ve thought of times when I was incredibly confident, like when I ran for and won Panhellenic President (President of all of the sororities at our very Greek-oriented school), and times when I wasn’t confident at all, like when I had to go with a date I had never met to Homecoming in high school because nobody had asked me.

I found some interesting consistencies related to external factors across those various ebbs and flows.  But I almost think that the inconsistencies were more interesting to me that anything else.  Internal factors, such as understanding my thoughts and feelings, absolutely measured into my confidence, but I’ve been trying to understand those tangible elements, too.  Those that you can touch and see and feel  Let’s dive into the inconsistencies that I’ve found first.

P.S. All pictures included are from times when I’ve felt at my most confident.

What does my confidence NOT depend on?

My weight

Just like almost everyone on planet earth, I’ve fluctuated weight a bit.  In high school, I was a skinny little thing.  I was both ice skating and on my dance team, practicing both on a daily basis.  Plus, I was a proud do-gooder that didn’t drink and snuck out once… to the driveway to tell my friends that I wasn’t going to join them in whatever activity they were doing.  But I was definitely not my most confident self.

But when I think to those times I was my most confident self, my weight truthfully didn’t matter.  I thought that I looked fierce.  I held my head up high and kept moving ahead and living a beautiful life every day.  When I look back at those points, I can’t remember even thinking about my weight.  I would just toss on an outfit that fit my personality for the day and run out the door.  It almost seems like I was too busy enjoying life to even think about my weight in the first place.


Sailing in Croatia on The Yacht Week in 2010 – I knew one girl on our sailboat before we left, but I ended up having the time of my life

My age

I found it to be incredibly interesting that almost every year has had some dips and peaks.  I couldn’t think to a year that I could say, “I was most confident at (x) age.”  Rather, I fluctuated all across the year and based on several factors, some of which are listed below.  Sure, some full years were better than others, but not enough to stand out dramatically.

That being said, I have, in general, gotten more confident as I age. It seems to me that the older I get, the less I care about being cool. It really does make life more fun!


Running around Wimbledon with one of my best friends way back in the day

What my confidence DOES depend on

My level of activity

Every time I was at my most confident, I was in a phase where I was moving all the time.  I was walking to work or class, dancing to the music, training for competitions, or just training for life in general (aka, moving everyday.)

But that doesn’t mean I was “6-pack” fit – you know what I mean.  I’ve never been fit to the point where someone has come up to me to say, “I bet you work out.”  When I think back, I was just fit enough where my body and energy level would not hold me back.

And those times when I was at my least confident, I was just sitting.  I was studying non-stop, or working non-stop, or just plain being a lazy mother trucker.  I was too lazy or preoccupied with what I was doing that I didn’t make any plans to see the world, for the future, or think beyond that moment.

It’s also interesting to me that all of those factors seem to relate back to my level of activity.  Exercise really does change our lives, doesn’t it. 🙂

The sun

No joke.  One cloudy or rainy day here or there doesn’t hurt, but consecutive days with a lack of sun definitely led me to feel a bit down in the dumps.

But this completely makes sense to me.  I originally moved to Colorado purely for the amazing weather (it didn’t disappoint) and now I often leave Chicago purely because of the weather, especially in January/February.  I happily now have weather that always moderately great, but usually pretty fantastic.

At a wedding with the man I love in 2022

Sense of Community

While I’m usually somebody that LOVES being in a crowd, I’ve found that I’m actually much more confident in a smaller group of friends.  I don’t need to know them all incredibly well, but we do have to have a mutual trust in one another.  Having something in common is typically a nice touch, but it’s really that trust that seems to make the difference in how confident I’m feeling.  Trust that we both have each other’s best interest in mind.

I will say that I have had many times that I’ve been solo and had an amazing time.  I’ve gone on solo vacations, go to movies solo, or just enjoy some time meditating each morning.  What I’ve noticed about those points in time is that I’m not usually incredibly confident as they are happening.  I’m having to explore the inner workings of myself, understand myself just a bit better.  So while I’m in the moment, I’m usually not on top of the world, but it’s after I come back to daily life that I feel like the most confident form of me.  I know who I am and I’m following my passions.  If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend taking some time to be by yourself with your thoughts.

What are the external factors that contribute to your level of confidence?

Create a great life!

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