On The Topic of Self-Confidence and Achievement | Teen Ink

On The Topic of Self-Confidence and Achievement

December 1, 2020
By keine_ahnung SILVER, Omaha, Nebraska
keine_ahnung SILVER, Omaha, Nebraska
6 articles 0 photos 1 comment

After receiving a deal of praise today while pursuing my education, I began to contemplate how I should accept it.  Upon the moment of being congratulated and reminded of being “smart” and the “the trump card of the team,” I felt happy, prideful and somewhat embarrassed.  Under my mask, I felt a rise of heat and a pinkish tint paint my cheeks.  The compliments caused me to experience a sudden sense of being looked at and overwhelmed.  As I worked with my teammates, a rush of guilt kicked in at the realization that I was the main breadwinner.  Later in the day, I was confronted with the possibility that my joy in the moment made me arrogant and self-absorbed.  Should I feel proud of the attention and titles given to me?  Is it okay to recognize that they are likely true?  

Only mere years ago, my definite answer to those questions would have been yes with an exclamation point.  In elementary school, I held more confidence in myself and my achievements.  I wonder what has changed since then.  Have I grown out of that stage, convincing myself that too much confidence and bossiness at a young age was immature and unlikeable?  Has my overall self-confidence decreased as I have entered the realm of adolescence and teenagehood?  Or does the problem lie within society; have the hidden effects of the patriarchy caused me to view my talents and intelligence as inferior because I am a woman?  

I feel that pop culture, books and movies that I absorbed at a young age had a clear message: don’t be that stuck-up, popular, mean girl.  It was usually girls and women portrayed this way.  Thinking too highly of your own self, whether your talent, intellect, beauty, or other aspect of your personality, automatically labeled you as mean and self-absorbed.  Granted, focusing too much of your attention and time on merely yourself is not effective in creating empathy and a drive to help others, but it seems that women are taught to not value their individual attributes.  We have created a society where insecurities in the population are used as weak spots, not parts of the world to change.  

Take the makeup, clothing, and beauty industries, for instance.  Usually women are targeted as consumers for this field.  An ad may depict a before and after picture for expensive face cleaner.  For individuals with far from clear skin, such as myself, our internal insecurities are drawn to buy the product, as we hate the way our skin looks.  The ad is telling us that we could be better.  We could be prettier.  We could be more desirable.  We are just not enough.  

The advertisement is appealing to our emotion, which will make us buy the product, yes, but will fail to create a loving environment and overall society for us.  I don’t think I can name any close female friends or people that I interact with regularly that are in love with their body and appearance.  Everyone has something they want to change.  There’s the saying that artists will always find flaws in their work.  Everyone has insecurities, but when society makes those insecurities vulnerable and profitable instead of promoting self love and positivity, that is a major role in low self-esteem.  

The same goes for intelligence.  Deriving from history’s attitude towards women, gender roles greatly affect all aspects of life.  Women are viewed as overly emotional, unintelligent, and inferior to men.  This has caused many problems in gender equality, including the glass ceiling and how women are treated in education, medicine, and the workplace.  I am very privileged to reside in the United States, where the gender gap is smaller than in other parts of the world, but the gap is still present.  

Today, while being told that I was smart and capable, I thought of the possibilities my future could hold.  Immediately following that, I thought of how I may have to try harder, advocate louder, or work more in order to be taken seriously.  Based on other slight, but meaningful, happenings during my day, I had many serious ponders about gender equality and if I was supposed to be grateful for the previously-mentioned praise.  Even writing this, I wonder if I am coming off as too self-absorbed.  The patriarchy is still very present, and even in my progressive country, the effects of male superiority still hit.  The words of my classmates really caused me to feel proud, but my guilt and self-doubt linger underneath.  It is vital to highlight how a lack of female achievement in history curriculums, the pay gap, the social views that women can do less, along with everything else can shape girls and young women to doubt themselves and their potential to be amazing. 

The author's comments:

I wrote this as a way for me to get my random feelings regarding the depicted situation under control.  I really hope that my piece does not come off as self-absorbed, but rather as a piece to cause you to rethink self-confidence and acheiving something, especially when it comes to women in this world.

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