I’ve been asked on several occasions what I consider to be my biggest personal strengths. I could name several things. However, one trait that sits at the top of my list is confidence. I haven’t always possessed it, but through life circumstances and other influences throughout the years, I’ve learned how to become my own biggest cheerleader. You can (and should), too!

Confidence Through Creativity

Being creative has definitely helped boost my personal and professional confidence. That started at a very early age for me, and it honestly began with my mother. She is truly one of my biggest influences. I’m so grateful to have had a mom who always sparked artistry in our home. Not only did she encourage it in me, but she oftentimes REQUIRED it of me!

I remember once asking my mom if I could wear high heels to school. It didn’t matter to me that I was in sixth grade, but I guess it mattered to her. She responded with a curt, flat and defiant “absolutely not!” But being the precocious child that I was, I asked if I could make my own.

“If you can make them and walk on them, you can wear them,” she replied. That was all I needed.

Did I know how to make high-heels? Not at all. However, I did want to prove that I could (and WOULD) make my heels and don them for all of my classmates to see. I searched my home until I gathered all I needed to create my shoes. Next, I found some wood blocks and dowels that I figured could function as the actual “heels” to attach to a pair of my existing shoes. I used a hammer to assemble everything, and I secured my design with duct tape for stability. The pièce de résistance for my fabulous footwear? I covered the final presentation in leopard print fabric, because style! My first signature shoes were created – all because Mom challenged me to do something creative.

I don’t remember how sturdy my heels actually were. I do remember feeling really good about myself when I finished creating, and thinking I could accomplish anything I set my mind to do. That’s a sentiment I have believed ever since.

Confidence Through Individuality

Mom’s push wasn’t the only thing that helped me boost self-confidence. Being “different” pushed my parents to help me build confidence in myself. I say “different” for many reasons. First, I was a biracial child who was transracially adopted. I grew up a brown girl with white parents. I had wiry, curly hair and a novel name with Irish roots. Yes, I stood out. Now, my parents faithfully embraced my individuality and uniqueness growing up with endless love and affection. They couldn’t, however, force others to do the same.

Nevertheless, my mom and dad encouraged me daily, it seems, to celebrate being unique instead of vying to fit in with my peers. Without fail they let me know I was a beautiful flower, and that I was worthy of respect from everyone. Even when I struggled in school because of dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder, my parents never demonized my challenges. They helped me embrace the fact that I was intelligent, even though I learned differently from others. With the right support systems, I thrived and began to believe in myself more. These experiences taught me not to villainize internal or external parts of me that were different. Rather, I learned to make them stepping stones to my various successes throughout my teenage and adult years.

 Finding Your Confidence

These are just a couple of paths that I traveled on my journey to building confidence. The key tenets I hope you gain from my experiences are simple. First, know that your differences are your assets. Cherish them, nurture them, and believe in them. From there, know that you can take any situation or circumstance and create your own narrative.

We all have a purpose in this life. If someone else was meant to live your story, you’d be relegated to another character. Be you. Be the truest version of you. Someone a little further behind you is hoping to walk a little taller because of the trail you’ve blazed. Go confidently toward all life has for you. The world needs that little something special you and I both have to offer. Ready? Of course you are. See you on the way up!

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