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My mother was one of those moms who swore her kids were extremely exceptional and any who begged to differ just had to be jealous. She’s still like this, smh. This loving environment with positive words constantly floating throughout the atmosphere birthed and developed my confidence. I believed I was beautiful and smart and that the world was mine for the taking because I heard it every day from the people that I loved and respected the most. As I grew up, of course I’d encounter occasional teasing and bullying as all children do, but the sting of it never lasted long because there was my loving family nearby to wipe away the tears and shoot down any negativity. I, the third of four children and the baby girl, received constant validation (and still do). I honestly can’t recall a day that went by where I didn’t hear how beautiful and brilliant I was.

After undergrad, I moved to Albany, New York for graduate school. Due to my southern drawl and savvy style sense, my classmates grew very fond of me, almost as if I was the MSW program trophy. While they wore SUNY Albany sweat shirts, jeans and crocs; I opted for cardigans, pencil skirts and stiletto pumps. In an advanced standing program at one of the country’s best schools for social welfare, with a macro concentration (lobbying, non-profit administration, that type of stuff), charisma and fashion varied from the typical norm. And, after about two weeks into my program, I knew that as much as I loved advocacy, I could not spend the rest of my life in that profession—it was emotionally draining and lacked creative expression.

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Sometimes during the week (and often on the weekends), I would go to New York City. I began to seek opportunities in the broad entertainment industry, more specifically fashion and beauty. After all those years of hearing, “oh you should model,” I tried it. Result? FAIL. I tried multiple times and still failed. I tried landing beauty campaigns and commercials. Fail again. This went on for a year. What was happening? I didn’t understand. I had never had to deal with rejection of this magnitude. Soon I realized the characteristics that made me an exception in Albany were just not that big of a deal in New York.  Maybe in my small hometown and in my master’s program, but in the heart of NYC, I was one of a multitude of pretty, intelligent and charismatic girls all on a mission to “make it.”

Because I was thousands of miles away from home, I no longer had my family there to combat the letdowns. I started to wonder if I even belonged and if I had fooled myself into thinking that a girl like me from a small suburb in Georgia could even leave a scratch, much less a mark, in the Concrete Jungle. I spent many of my days crying and trying to figure out where and how I fit in. With less than six months before graduation and still no plan, I had to check myself. I was forced to stop with the pity parties and get it together. After some self-discovery, I realized that my confidence was only circumstantial. It was only alive when other people validated me; I was dependent on their approval. I had to modify and reconstruct my confidence to be solid and unshakable, regardless of circumstance and who did or didn’t affirm how special I was.

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To get past this, I began discovering my value on my own, without someone pointing it out to me. I heavily leaned on my faith and prayed that the natural attributes my Creator blessed me with be revealed along with how I was to use them for the betterment of myself and others. With lipstick, I wrote positive adjectives reflective of myself on the mirror so that I’d see them every day when I woke up–eventually, I began to believe them. My confidence was now organic and it translated as such to other people.

Others started seeing something special in me because this time I genuinely believed in myself. As a result, more opportunities were presented. I brainstormed professions that would allow me to use my attributes and strengths in a creative form. Just in time, with a little less than two months before graduation, a fashion and beauty writing opportunity came my way and I didn’t even have to search for it. Since then, it seems as though the door of opportunity and progression has been revolving.

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Many of you can relate, as you too have left, or will leave, the comfort of your hometowns in pursuit of something greater. In your journey, rejection is inevitable and may provoke feelings of self-doubt. Ask yourself, “Is my confidence circumstantial, and if so, how do I fix it to be unconditional?” If you find yourself second guessing what you have to offer every single time a door doesn’t open for you, try some confidence reconstruction exercises:

Note the pros: Write a list of your natural skills and positive traits.

Place them somewhere visible: Write them in lipstick on your mirror or type them on paper and stick them around your room. Read the words aloud with conviction every day.

Talk to yourself: I know it sounds a little crazy, but when things don’t work, verbally say to yourself, “This is no reflection of my shortcomings. I have what it takes and in due time my opportunity will come.”

Rely on your faith: If you have a Higher Power, ask that your strengths be revealed to you and how you are to utilize them. I’ve found that often in the event of rejection, it’s because we’re trying to do something that we weren’t destined to do. When we use our gifts and skills in areas we’re supposed to use them, our confidence will enhance because we feel a natural sense of belonging.

Hello, Beautiful! Do you have any Confidence Reconstruction Exercises? Can you relate? Share it all below with your fellow beauties!

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