Ever since I started reading women’s magazines as a pre-teen, I have heard these two words more times than I could possibly count: Be Confident. That advice is the seemingly most important piece of advice no matter what kind of article you’re reading, whether it’s how to get your crush to notice you, how to get promoted at work, or how to make people take you seriously. As a shy, timid, and not-so-confident girl, I always found this advice exhausting.
Sure, it’s really easy to sit there and write about how one has to be confident in order to get the things that they want. It’s easy to write about how important confidence is. But to actually be confident as a girl, in a world where society is constantly giving us impossible expectations to reach for, is incredibly difficult. Even though I know this, I’m still guilty of writing the same advice to girls on this website. I’m always telling you guys to be confident, even though I know that’s much easier said than done.
I do it because I know how important confidence is, and I really do think that being confident will help all of you become happier. But please know that I realize those words can be frustrating. This is why I’m so beyond grateful for campaigns like Always’ #LikeAGirl and celebrities like Maisie Williams, who are actively working to not only tell girls to be confident, but to also actually help them become confident.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the #LikeAGirl campaign before: Always created this movement to help push girls to stop limiting themselves and to start being happy with who they are. Their latest video is about defying gender roles and expectations and becoming the person you want to be, no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s so inspiring! Always is working with actress Maisie Williams (you probably know her as Arya Stark from Game Of Thrones) to spread the message, and I honestly can’t think of a better brand spokesperson than Maisie.
This week, I had the amazing opportunity to sit in on a Confidence Summit for Always’ Unstoppable #LikeAGirl campaign. Maisie hosted the event, where we all learned so much about helping girls become confident and why that’s important. I also got to chat with Maisie about her own confidence struggles, as well as how she overcame those and became a truly confident girl. Maisie is a total badass who isn’t afraid to voice her opinions while also managing to be one of the sweetest actresses I’ve ever interviewed. I took her interview, along with what I learned from the leaders speaking at the #LikeAGirl Confidence Summit, and put together 7 secrets to being more confident that you guys need to read. Because as frustrating as it may be to read that confidence is one of the most important things ever, it’s also true.
First, here’s a little background on how Maisie got involved with the #LikeAGirl campaign. Maisie said, “I watched the first video they had released, and it wasn’t until that point that I realized that I had stopped doing a lot of things that I originally enjoyed… I was like, ‘hey, I know that feeling.’ I was like, ‘I just need to be a part of the next one.’ So when [Always] released their new Unstoppable #LikeAGirl video, it was something that, again, I was very passionate about. It wasn’t just another video – it was the curriculum that they were going to introduce into schools, something that would have been so beneficial to me growing up, when I had so many questions I couldn’t ask Google. So many things I wanted to speak to somebody about, but not just your mum because sometimes you need someone who’s a little bit further away than that.”
1. Be proud of your interests, no matter what they are. We’ve all had those moments where we feel embarrassed about what we like, because we think that we’re not “supposed” to like them, or that it’s not “cool” to like them. Maisie has been there too, saying, “I stopped doing activities that I enjoyed doing and I experienced limitations. I was embarrassed to tell people that I love running cross country and I like playing hockey and I like playing tag rugby, because people would just look at me and how little I was and how cute I was… and my brittle, small frame… and just be like, ‘yeah don’t be stupid, you can’t do things like that because you’re weak, like a girl.'”
What you need to learn is that some people will make fun of your interests. They might not believe that you’re good at those things. But who cares? YOU need to own them, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
2. Accept that other people are going to think certain things about you. As Maisie started touching on above, she’s experienced a lot of stereotypes from other because she’s a petite girl. She said, “Being a small, short girl means I’m not taken as seriously, and I see it all the time. Someone who’s the same age as you but a foot taller… people automatically create an interesting conversation with them, whereas they’re talking to you like, ‘so you’re at school? Oh, that’s so nice.’ And I’m like, I have so many things I want to say in life and little things like that hold me back!”
As a short girl, I completely understand what Maisie is saying. People don’t take me seriously because of my appearance. It used to really bother me, but I’ve learned to accept it, and so has Maisie. It doesn’t mean you can’t push back and prove them wrong, it just means you shouldn’t let them bring you down.
3. Know that you’re going to feel weird about your body and yourself, and that’s okay. Puberty is weird. Always found that many girls experience a huge drop in confidence when they go into puberty. If you feel that way, it’s important to know that you’re not alone! Even celebrities like Maisie understand: “I feel like when I was 12, 13, I found myself being like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a teenager, I can’t wait to be older, this is so exciting, I can’t wait to be a woman.’ And then everything inside was totally petrified of all that, I think. And I was so embarrassed. When your body is changing, you feel a bit awkward and strange knowing your clothes fit a bit weird and I wasn’t quite ready for all of that. I pretended that I was because of this crazy world that I’m in, but then it was really difficult.”
4. Focus on doing things that challenge you rather than doing things that are easy. While Maisie didn’t point this out, it’s something I learned during the summit. Research has found that people who challenge themselves to do things end up feeling more confident than people who take the easy way out and do something they know they’re good at. Challenging yourself is an experience – it pushes you to do new things. You end up feeling proud of yourself for that. But always doing the thing you know you’re already good at? You would think it would make you more confident, but it doesn’t. So, try to push yourself as much as you can.
5. Stop caring about what other people think. This is a lot easier said than done, and for many of us, it takes a lot of time. Maisie said, “There was a definite period when my body was changing and I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do in life or what sort of person I was. I didn’t know my type. I didn’t know any of those things. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do? I’ve lost every sense of who I am.’ Until I came out the other side, probably like, I don’t know, a year ago maybe? I finally stopped caring about anyone who was nasty to me, and I met a new group of people.”
6. Find a group of people who make you feel happy. Maisie continued: “It’s actually quite healthy to have a group of people where I cannot see them for a couple of weeks, but that’s okay, I’ll go back and see them in a couple of weeks and it will be fine. And I met a lovely boy who is really, really nice to me. And I feel a lot happier now, and I feel like I found who I am. Now that I’m comfortable with myself I feel like I’m ready to help other people find that person too.”
Surrounding yourself with the right people is SO important. If you’re around people who bring you down and make you feel bad – you’re going to feel bad! Being around people who lift you up makes you more confident.
7. Realize it’s okay to change. Maisie talked a lot about how she became more confident when she found out who she was, and she changed a bit. But she also added that she knows she still might change – she could change completely! I love her attitude about it, which was, “And that’s the lovely thing as well I think, you don’t have to decide who you are and stay that way. I can change again if I want to. Changing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” Amen.
Are you a fan of Maisie Williams? What are your secrets to becoming more confident? Tell me in the comments!