No Body Shame – Every day, multiples times a day, I hear a variation of one question: “How are you so confident?” More than any ideal body, or the perfect hair, or brows on fleek, confidence seems to truly be the elusive thing that every woman wants, yet believes she can’t have.  

So I’m going to tell you right now: confidence is not finite. You are not born with a certain amount of it that you can use up. It is not something that you either have or don’t. Confidence, like most everything else in life, is something that takes practice. It’s something you work for day in and day out. Confidence is an intangible quality—but can be recognized immediately in a person who exudes it. So how do you get it? It’s not as easy as telling someone to just “be confident.” If it were that simple we wouldn’t all still be trying to figure it out. Looking back at my life, I realized something surprising. The way we think about confidence is backwards. You don’t necessarily have the confidence to do any particular thing. You do the thing and then you gain the confidence.  

If I waited for the confidence to magically appear before I tackled something new, I’d probably still be curled up in my bed right now. Confidence is a product of action, not the other way around. Maybe you don’t feel confident enough to wear a two-piece, or apply for that scholarship, or ask that dude for his number…but if you force yourself to do it, you’ll see that 1) you survived (you’re reading this, aren’t you?!) 2) it wasn’t as bad as thought, and 3) you may have even excelled at it. This is where the confidence comes as a reward for your action. Then next time, you can push yourself even further.  

Undoubtedly in my life, this is how I built my own confidence up from nothing. It might be disappointing to hear that it’s not something you can follow a perfect formula to obtain, but that’s the beauty in it — there’s no limit on how much confidence you can have or what you have to do to get it. It can be scary to challenge yourself, to live in the momentary discomfort of not being sure…but the confidence you will gain will make it all worth it. And, of course, there are people watching who will see you taking risks, doing the hard parts, surviving and glowing—and you’ll inspire them to find their own confidence, too.  

Whitney Way Thore


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