Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let's All Strive for Confidence

from Note to Self

I love this illustrated quote from Note to Self. Not only is it a lovely, understated illustration, but the quote is especially timely as I close out 2012, a year in which- I admit- my self confidence was shaken significantly. 2012 was a year of major change: a new city, a new job, new people, new everything, I expected things to be difficult and knew they would be, but was ready to compare the experience to going away to college, when in fact- for me- uprooting our lives turned out to be far more difficult than just moving a couple of hours south and coming home on the weekends- who would have thought? I am not the kind of person to make friends immediately. Which is not to say I'm not friendly, I at least like to think I am, but I don't like being in the center of a room, and I'm much more comfortable observing. It takes a long time for me to feel close to people, to feel comfortable around people, it took me years to cultivate the close relationships I have with my friends back home. The transitional period between leaving what I knew and loved, to feeling comfortable in my new environment was far rockier than I expected, partially because we uprooted ourselves so suddenly (three weeks between finding out I got the job, to driving through the tunnel and glimpsing Pittsburgh for the first time), but also because- and I didn't realize this straight-away- we had really, truly become part of a community in Massachusetts. So, suddenly living in a new city surrounded by new people shook me, I turned inward and put too much stock in strangers' perception of who I was, rather than what I knew myself to be. That sudden lack of confidence and constant questioning quieted me, I felt as if I had nothing to offer, as if I was interrupting the lives those around me. Looking back on this past year, I'm sorry to say that I dulled myself down in many ways, and the only person to blame is myself. The younger, combat-boot-wearing, profanity-spewing, die-hard-feminist me of my early 20's would have been disappointed. Really disappointed, and probably pissed. I wish I could say what the turning point in this story was, that there was a moment of clarity, but all I can say is that somewhere in the past five months or so, I've shifted my perception and I feel damn better. Perhaps it was less time spent with technology? A little time alone with your own thoughts, with your own feelings never hurts.

So, I know this was a tangent, and at this point, this diatribe is not even necessarily related to the quote itself (I've never had a problem with looking silly in real life, in many ways it's a crutch). But I hope you'll join me in taking on 2013 with confidence, knowing that your opinion of yourself matters more than the opinion of those around you. In most ways I'm proud of who I've become, but it wouldn't hurt for me to borrow a little of that balls-to-the-wall attitude of 20 year-old me. Extremely questionable, slightly scandalous fashion choices not included.


Anonymous said...

Such an awesome post! It's so important to remember to be confident in who you are :)


jenvegas said...

Dear Julie,

I couldn't relate to this post more. I lived overseas for about 4 years and NEVER felt comfortable being my true self. Mostly due to the politics of my home country (USA), I never felt that people could accept me without spewing stereotypes or judging my hometown or country with mostly ignorant views. AH! I reverted into my shell and didn't want anybody to bother me.

I am now in a new city but feel that I haven't met people who ALSO don't care what other people think. I want to be free spirited, balls-to-the-wall like I used to be in my 20s. :)

Doesn't it make you appreciate the old friends and new ones who accept you for who you are?! Thanks for this post. I'm gonna work on this.



missris said...

I had a similar reaction when moving to Pittsburgh (around the same time you did!) and I think it partly has to do with the city, which is unique and kind of insular, at least in my experience. A major life event like moving across the country can shake anyone up a little. Glad to see you have a spring in your step again, and if you're ever looking for a thrifting partner I'm your gal!

Megan said...

I adore Amy Pohler. And this quote speaks volumes.


Michal said...

Wonderful. If I dedicated 2012 to anything, it was to really work on my confidence, and I'm proud of how well I've done. There's still a ways to go, but when I look back on myself a couple years ago it's amazing how much I cared about other people's opinions then, and how little I cared about my own. Confidence opens up so many opportunities.

Bethany said...

I can't think of anything really to say that sums up my feelings more than "Hell yes!" I turned 27 last week, and I've been having an existential crisis about getting older, desperately wanting a direction to follow, wanting to be a part of something (or create something) meaningful (and what does 'meaningful' mean to me?), and mostly, just accepting myself for who I am and being comfortable and unapologetic with that.

I hear you and I want to shout that I understand!!

p.s. Amy P. has been my spirit guide the last few months. Have you seen her youtube channel? She's such a wise, kind person.

Marlen said...

Haha extremely questionable, slightly scandalous clothing choices- that sounds kinda fun, I wouldn't mind seeing any throwbacks ;)

And I think everyone who took the time to read this probably needed it. Everyone gets hit from time to time where they turn timid and start caring what others think, and it's nice to randomly stumble upon another person's thoughts that let you know it's ok to be yourself.

I work at a financial firm, and most of the outfits on my blog I wear to the office and I definitely get some snide looks here and there. And after awhile it does start to make you feel a little down. I'm glad you're finally starting to feel more comfy in your new nook in the world and I hope you only keep growing :)

☯ZERO STYLE☯ said...

great post julie! this hits pretty close to home, as my boyfriend just moved to cleveland from philly for me over a month ago. he is experiencing a lot of the things you mentioned! i hope he also makes it a point to turn 2013 around for himself. i have really only just come to realize that life is easier when you stop dulling yourself down to please others, you're so very right about that!

Orchid Grey said...

Thank you all so much for your amazing responses! There was so much more I could have written but didn't want to get into novel-territory. As much as I'm sorry to hear you have all been in similar situations, it's also a comfort to know that those around me have experienced similar feelings. xo- Julie

Plummy said...

Oh my goodness, this strikes such as chord! I tend to move around a lot and recently moved to the East Coast (I'm a West Coast girl) with my husband. We've been here for over 6 months now and it's just been really difficult to get myself situated and make friends. I am much more comfortable being by myself now (my husband is military and is away often) but I really thought I would be able to slide into a community here, like the one I had on the West Coast. I feel like I am a friendly person, I go out, I tried multiple Meetups, and I am a member of some local clubs, but it's been incredibly difficult to cultivate any true friends. Much like you, I think I am just much slower to make friends, and that just hasn't served me well in my frequently-moving-lifestyle. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone, even though it sucks that other people are having the same problems. :/ Oh well, it's more me-time, more hobby-time, more time to work on my projects that never seem to get done (running, sewing, writing a book, I'm looking at you!). Friends will come. :)

Polina said...

hear hear! I feel the same way and have the same hope for 2013.

Thanks for sharing, Julie!

Caitlin said...

I'm going through something so similar. I moved from the East Coast to San Francisco almost exactly 6 months ago. I definitely find myself watering down my personality when I'm out with new people, as well as making excuses to spend a lot of time by myself (or alone with my husband) because I don't have to be "on" and trying to make friends with a bunch of people I don't know. It's exhausting, but it's no one's fault but mine. I wish I didn't put so much stock in other people's perceptions of me.

Reading your thoughts gave me some comfort and reassurance. A big move is a big deal and it takes time to readjust and figure out where you fit in your new city. I wish there was an easy way to meet other people who are in the same situation!

Thanks for sharing, I needed to read this today!


Orchid Grey said...

Caitlin, YES. Making friends is so exhausting, it's like dating in a weird way. One thing we did do that really helped was purchase memberships to local museums and to an outdoor club, that way we always have something to do :)

Kate.Stoltzfus said...

Great post, Julie! I know this has been a challenging year for you. But I have a feeling 2013 is going to be an amazing one.

It's interesting you mentioned less technology ... Nik and I were just talking last night about trying a week of no technology in the evenings (including television). Just think of the possibilities! I'll report back with how it goes ...

Keep on keepin' on, lady! I'm so glad you live in PIttsburgh and I look forward to future adventures!



Ally said...

I really related to your post. I didn't move, but started a new job... supposedly more successful but also more stressful and with less independence. I'm starting to feel so psychically tired I'm losing my sense of self, much like you re: your 20-year-old self. I was looking through some older photos this week, and noted how much calmer and more rested I looked and felt back then!

In 2013, I have to get re-centered and find my internal focus again, so daily life doesn't just wash over me. Quietly reading and writing for myself will be helpful, I think, as I find it almost meditative these days... I just have to make the time for it!

AL MacD said...

I recently moved across the country for grad school, and have been feeling much of the same for the last three months.
Moving to new environments is HARD (I also moved far away for my undergrad, so I thought it would be all good) especially when you are unfamiliar with the area.

The Littlest Smitten said...

Julie thank you for sharing this post. A great reminder for us all. I've not moved but in the last few years many of my close friends have moved away and others have started having children. Both good things for them but I find myself sometimes wanting to make a few more friends to "replace but not replace" these people I miss or don't see as often. Its hard making new friends the older I get though. I mean people that I want to know more then an acquaintances. Anyways I'm glad your perception has shifted. Cheers to 2013!

Brittany said...

I think we have similar personalities. I've lived in MA/CT my whole life, but my boyfriend is looking for a new job and there are no schools around here that offer the degree I want, so we're probably going to have to move. And that scares me because I know I'm going to be miserable. I too have a hard time making friends and have to observe people for a long time just to get comfortable with them. I'm really introverted, AND I find that I just don't click with a lot of people, partly because I do my own thing. Most people that I interact with at work talk about reality TV, Top 40 music, Pandora bracelets, Coach wristlets, etc. If they have ANY political opinions at all, chances are they're at least slightly conservative. I can't relate to any of that... I don't even eat the same kind of food as them! I don't go out of my way and TRY to be different, but I like what I like. I've tried to hang out with people that I have nothing in common with, and it just doesn't work. My real friends and I are different, but we get each other, and I don't see myself finding anyone if I have to move away.
One thing I AM trying to work on is loosening up. I've definitely gotten more uptight as I've gotten older-- staying up late drinking is surprisingly more difficult at 27 than it was at 22-- but I admit that a lot of times I make excuses to act like a total fuddy-duddy when really, my anxiety is the issue and I need to get over myself and live a little. But yeah, I think I may have just written a comment longer than the blog post! I just wanted to explain that I think I understand what you're going through, and I sympathize. <3

Orchid Grey said...

Brittany, I totally see where you're coming from. Something that is important to me is having friends outside of work, and cultivating those relationships takes time. Lots of it, which I don't necessarily have. I does eventually happen though, you connect with people, have a few awkward "dates", some may work out, some may not. One thing I try to keep in mind is that happy people are usually drawn to happy people, and for me to be happy I need to focus on enriching myself. I hope your move goes smoothly and feel free to reach out if you do move and if you're feeling stifled!

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