Karen Besonen: Tips for Confidence from a Girl who Understands

When Caitlin asked me if I wanted to write a post, I was extremely flattered because I really admire her and what this blog represents.

I was told I could write about anything, but one of her ideas was writing about how to be confident, because she sees me as a confident person. This was extremely flattering and kind of ironic, because I’ve spent most of my life battling with extreme insecurity.

I beg you all to not take this post as me acting like I’m invincible and I have my whole life together. I’m terrified of coming off as cocky so I want to say right now, take this all with a grain of salt.

I am confidant in who I am. Here is my story of struggling to get to this point.

Growing up, I always had a really solid sense of who I was, and I was really proud of that. I didn’t ever question myself until high school. High school has a funny way of looking you in the face and saying “Do you REALLY know who you are? Do you REALLY think you’re pretty? Alright, challenge accepted. I’m going to make you question everything about yourself.”

Questioning myself is a huge understatement. I started off ninth grade totally solid in who I was, but within a year I was sent into a tailspin. I came in a fearless Christian, and I was targeted. I was labeled a Jesus Freak and things got really rough really quickly. The people I thought were my friends betrayed me and I was essentially left alone to fight off all of my critics. The criticism was brutal.

I totally lost who I was. I changed how I talked, dressed, and acted in a desperate attempt to fit in and just be liked by people. Still, I was gossiped about. Still, I was made fun of. I was some kind of running joke, no matter what I did.

I gave up my faith completely, and became discouraged. I hated how I looked and I constantly critiqued my body. I never got into self harming, but I’d cry myself to sleep basically every night. I’d go through the motions of school, just praying that nobody would make fun of me. I tried my best to be invisible.

If I hadn’t participated in choir and theatre and found a sense of community, I honestly don’t know if I’d be here today.

That was the low point. Rock bottom. Since graduation, I’ve done a total 180 and I never want any girl to feel the way I did. I pulled myself out of the dark hole of self-hate, and have become a confidant woman of God. Whether you’re religious or not, I’m sure you can benefit from some or all of these tips.

1. Don’t allow criticism.
Everyone likes to joke and tease every once in a while. When you roll out of bed and don’t feel like wearing jeans and a cute top, you choose sweats and a sweatshirt. You’re already feeling a little frumpy, and at lunch one of your friends says “Well, we’re looking cute today, aren’t we?” They’re just joking and honestly don’t mean any harm, but it hurts. Speak up for yourself. As soon as you allow other people to criticize you, even in good nature, it’s going to become extremely easy for you to criticize yourself. This kind of negativity can start out small, but the risk of it planting a seed for long term insecurity really isn’t worth it.

2. Get in the habit of positive self talk.
It sounds ridiculous, but I promise, it’s beneficial. When you wake up and stand in the mirror, immediately point out three things you like about yourself instead of going for the “bad.” Example: when I get in front of the mirror, if I dwell on my not-perfectly-flat stomach, I get super bummed out. But the days when I wake up and notice my pretty blue eyes, cute freckles, and long shiny hair are SO much better. When we get picky about our bodies, one bad thought turns into many. Pretty soon you feel like the ugliest girl on the planet. Trust me, I get it. Change it :)

3. Invest your time into a bigger cause.
Volunteer, blog, get a job, write a story, practice piano, dance, go to church…ANYTHING When you feel like you’re being productive and doing something of impact, you totally forget about yourself. It’s not about us anymore, because we have a purpose and having a purpose makes you feel important. It’s a whole lot harder to beat yourself down when you go to volunteer at the nursing home and one of the residents smiled and thanked you for being a friend. Fill your life with positive purpose and you will severely cut down on negative thoughts. My purpose has been religion. Thinking about living my life for God’s glory and not my own has totally changed my life. If you listen to anything I say, let it be this. Find your niche and pursue it with passion.

4. Cut out the negative people in your life.
This one is probably the hardest. I’ve had some very negative friends before and they made me feel awful about myself. They were constantly calling other girls fat, ugly, and inferior and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. If they could say that about other people, what do they say about me when I’m not here? I’ve learned from experience that having few friends is so much better than having negative people in your life. Be strong enough to admit you deserve better. Don’t be rude to them. Don’t be catty about it. You don’t need to have a confrontation or totally end the friendship, but you must distance yourself, because these kinds of people are like a festering wound and as long as you’re around them, you’ll be held back.

I love you.
I don’t know who’s reading this, or where you are in your walk of life, but you’re beautiful and one of a kind. You deserve to feel good about yourself.
Only you can make it happen.

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3 thoughts on “Karen Besonen: Tips for Confidence from a Girl who Understands

  1. Pingback: Let’s talk about Confidence | The Walk to Womanhood

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