• Kathleen Van Engen

Confidence 101

Q. "Hi! I am a person who struggles with confidence. How can I become more confident?"

A. Dear Her,

Confidence can be so tough. I remember like it was yesterday, walking into our school cafeteria and panicking if I couldn't find where my friends were sitting. I also still to this day tense up if I have to walk into a room where people are already sitting and talking and I feel them look at me as I enter.

This would be a really really really long e-mail if I were to explain all of the reasons why I think we feel that way so often, but what I hope to do is to give you a few action steps to like you said, get that confidence level a little or hopefully a lot higher.



I believe at the core of lacking confidence is a misunderstanding of just how much value you have as a human being. As girls we often dismiss that whole 'value'/'self-esteem' thing because either it seems like outdated advice or like a cop out answer. But it is SO TRUE.

If we were sitting face to face and I asked you to tell me all of the good qualities you have:

  • would you find it difficult to answer?

  • What would you think of first? Your appearance? Your grades?

  • Do the faces of friends of yours or people you know flash in your mind. People who you think have ACTUAL good qualities. People who for whatever reason, you have elevated as more valuable than yourself.

We have to start there. Let me tell you some things that I know are true about you without actually even knowing who you are.

1) Your life matters.

You were created, brought into this world, and that means something. You have just as much right to be here as anybody else does.

2) You are capable of doing great things.

Now, I don't necessarily mean curing cancer (ALTHOUGH HEY THAT'S NOT OFF THE TABLE! Get it girl!) Isn't that sometimes what we think of when we hear "do great things?"

I simply mean it in the sense that you can do something really valuable with your life. You can impact lives for the better. When you realize this, your confidence will grow. It will grow because you will realize that you have something to offer your world.

I'll post a practical exercise you can do below to help with this one.

3) Walk confidently even if you don't feel like it.

What does this mean? Body language!

  • Sit up straight

  • Look people in the eye when you talk to them/ when they talk to you.

  • Don't look down when you walk

  • If you have to shake someones hand shake it strong (seriously...practice this with a parent or a friend)

  • When you have to walk into that room of people. Take a deep breath. Don't panic. Think ahead....chances are people aren't thinking what you think they are. Keep your head up. Find a seat.

  • Walk into a group of people and smile. You don't have to say anything at first. Maybe just listen until you relax and feel ready to speak up.

#3 has probably helped me more than I ever realized. I appear more confident than I feel a LOT of the time. Because deep down I know that I have reason to be confident. My body just doesn't catch up to my belief system sometimes.

It's one of those "Fake it till you make it" type things. I hate saying that but there is a little truth to it.


1) Write a list of every good quality that you feel you have. Personality. things that you like about your physical appearance, sense of humour, anything and everything.

2) Make a list of the top 5 qualities that you think someone who is "valuable" would have.

3) What do you like to do? What makes you happy? Who makes you happy (specific friends, family etc). These passions matter. Pay attention them. They are a part of you for a reason.

4) What makes you sad/ Who makes you feel sad?


Answers to #2

Where did you get the idea that those qualities make someone valuable? Was it from a good source? Are there some that maybe you should cross off the list and some you should add?

Answers to #3

Are you spending time doing these things? When we do what we love our confidence naturally boosts!

Answers to #4

Are there some people you should stop hanging out with or distance yourself from? Is there a risk you should take? An area where you can step out of your comfort zone?

*disclaimer* failing is a HUGE part of building confidence. Learn how to fail well and to keep trying. It's the only way to get good at anything. If you speak up in class and it is incredibly awkward...try again the next day. What you have to say matters.

Is there something you can help change for someone else so that they don't have to feel the way you did when ______? Helping others builds confidence in ourselves. It provides compassion and perspective. It helps everyone realize that they aren't alone.

I hope this helps in some way!

Thank you for writing in. I have so much faith in your ability to walk confidently. It's worth the work, I promise!

Forever Hers,


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