Learning to choose self-assurance over self-depreciation

Understanding that being proud of your skill isn’t conceited

Caitlin believes we should be confident in our accomplishments.
Credit: 
Supplied by Caitlin Elrick

The unfortunate reality of society today is the most relatable and common mindset is one of
self-deprecation and self-loathing.

For as long as I can remember, for many of my peers, having low self-esteem was the norm, and the jokes in which you hated on yourself got the most laughs. It’s the result of consuming years of social media and television ads that constantly give us new things to be insecure about, new trends to keep up with, and new celebrities to emulate.

I’m fortunate enough to have been raised by parents who always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. Not only did they always say it, but their actions always showed it.

I was encouraged to step outside my comfort zone whenever possible and to act as if any aspirations of mine were already true.

For example, Queen’s was my dream school and throughout high school I acted like it was already my reality. It was never ‘if I get in,’ but rather ‘when I get in.’ I’m sure this already comes across as cocky and conceited, but that’s the point I’m trying to make: it’s never cocky to believe in yourself to the point where you know you can achieve something.

I’m not cocky—I’m confident in my own ability.

Our society is obsessed with humbling people at every chance it gets, and frankly, I don’t see how that’s beneficial or productive.

None of our greatest achievements as a species have ever been the result of someone who second-guessed everything they did because they were told their loudness was too loud, or that being proud of being good at something was arrogant.

Think about your favourite song: If the artist was so plagued by self-deprecation they couldn’t admit they make good music, then it likely wouldn’t exist.

Or those times when your best friend is saying something negative about themself and you want to scream in their face because, to you, they’re absolutely perfect.

We can think those things about others, so why is it so hard to say them about ourselves?

I can say with almost certainty that most of us could name ten things we hate about ourselves before we could say five things we love, and that’s not okay.

Praising our achievements is seen as being ‘cocky’ and ‘arrogant.’ People who are able to confidently share how good they are at something or how much they know about something are deemed conceited and narcissistic. This doesn’t make any sense.

Why are we engaging in a culture that critiques us for being proud of our own abilities?

It took me about sixteen years to recognize the way self-assurance can change your perspective. I have always been an anxious person and still am to this day, but I realized in high school that, somehow, my anxiousness never seemed to bleed into the things I knew I was objectively good at or knew a lot about. I never made my anxiousness go away by being negative toward myself or hiding the things I thought were my strengths. In fact, it only made it worse.

I began to understand how powerful your mindset is at changing outcomes. When my mindset changed, I succeeded wherever I was confident enough to be ‘arrogant.’

Since then, I’ve approached everything with the same mindset, even though sometimes it can be more challenging. It’s tough to enter intimidating experiences with such self-assurance.

However, I try to keep in mind that we only get one life to live, so we may as well be loud and proud about ourselves. It’s now or never.

I think our society would benefit from encouraging people to be louder about what they know and who they are instead of silencing them for their accomplishments.

Why should you be silent about something at which you’re brilliant? Why wouldn’t you show off something at which you’re skilled? You don’t have to make a self-deprecating joke about your outfit if you know it’s cute just so you don’t seem ‘conceited’—whatever that even means.

Obviously, we all have days when we’re feeling a bit down on ourselves, but I can’t stress enough how powerful it is to consistently believe in yourself and to be your own number-one fan.

As my mom has always said to me, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” 

If we allow ourselves to adopt a growth mindset and vocalize our strengths, it leaves room for us to build up the people around us. If our boat is rising, we can lift up the boats of our friends, family, and peers. Cheering others on comes so much more naturally when you’re cheering yourself on, too.

We are all human beings with inherent worth who deserve to feel happy and proud of ourselves out loud. 

Gaining confidence through recognizing your self-worth and strengths also forces you to only accept the best from others. Since adopting this mindset, I’ve been able to be a lot more selective of what kind of energy and behaviour I tolerate from those around me, because I’ve internalized my own value.

I know it goes against everything society’s taught us, but I challenge you to make a list of ten things you genuinely love about yourself and ten things you’re good at. They may be the smallest things, but I promise, if you internalize that list, it will change your perspective on everything. 

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