After another informal, unscientific poll of my Facebook friends, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts. I posed this question, “If I could travel back in time and give one piece of advice to my 18-year old self, I would say ________.”
There was one theme that ran through many of the answers… “Believe in yourself.”
Believing in yourself is so much easier said than done, especially for a young adult who is still formulating what his or her “self” really means. When I launched into my 20’s, I remember feeling unprepared, unqualified and unsure about what the heck I wanted to do with my life. I kept stumbling forward and eventually found my way into a career that worked for me. I don’t remember really believing in myself until I reached that point. In other words, I needed some proof before I could buy into the fact that I was OK.
So if you know a young adult who is having trouble believing right now, I have some suggestions to share:
- Review your existing proof. What have you already done that demonstrated achievement or self-sufficiency? When did you demonstrate creativity, hard work, persistence and heart? Give yourself a pat on the back and build on this foundation. And remind yourself about these times when doubt starts to set in.
- Create some new proof. You can’t just sit around believing all day… at some point you have to take action. You may get new proof that you chose the right thing or the wrong thing, but either way you’ll have some new evidence to build on. Go try new stuff.
While you are looking for validating proof, remember this. What YOU think about you matters more than what others think. The words other people tell you are just data points for you to accept or reject. Listen carefully, but make up your mind based on what you want.
Believing in yourself is not magic. It’s a process with ups and downs and steps forward and back, but you can do it. Take it from people who have lived twice as long as you… you are capable of far more than you think you are.