One Simple Thing to Improve Your Self-Confidence
It’s easy to be alone when you’re alone. It’s hard to be alone in front of other people.
When you’re alone in front of other people, you’re vulnerable. People judge you—they might think there’s a reason you’re alone. If there’s a reason you’re alone, maybe you’re unworthy.
And when we see people who are alone in certain settings, like the movies, a restaurant, or at the beach, we might wonder why they’re alone. We speculate, and judge, sometimes harshly. Maybe they’re unworthy. Which is what leads us to feel insecure when we are alone in certain settings.
This belief, that people might judge you negatively if you’re alone, means your value as a person is only measurable by the number of people you keep around you. Your value inherently rests in other people and significantly diminishes with the absence of other people.
Stop Allowing Others to Determine Your Worth
If you feel like you are judged by being alone, in any situation, try doing this one thing to help you get comfortable with yourself.
Go out and eat alone.
Go to a restaurant or bar, have a drink and order some food. Eat by yourself, drink by yourself, and enjoy your own company.
You can scroll through social media or text friends and family, but don’t talk on the phone. Just be alone. You can bring a newspaper or a book, but don’t bring a person, and don’t plan on meeting anyone at the restaurant either.
Show up alone, eat alone, and leave alone.
This probably sounds devastating and outrageous to some. I worked at a restaurant as one of my 15 jobs and remember a man that would come in and eat alone, once a week. I used to feel sad for him. I’d sometimes consider offering to sit with him during his meal.
He didn’t seem sad though and he didn’t seem lonely. (Read: I wasn’t judging him based on the actual appearance of his emotions but rather the projection of my own.) He was cheerful and friendly. He always carried a briefcase and a newspaper, although he dressed more casually than what you’d expect for someone who always carried a briefcase and a newspaper.
As an adult, I realize that he was probably just enjoying a quiet lunch hour and didn’t want to eat in his car—like I did when I was 18 on lunch breaks and none of my friends were working with me that day.
As an adult, I realize how precious those moments alone really are. It’s a chance to think quietly, to get to know yourself, to process things you may otherwise avoid, or not think about.
Get Really Comfortable Being Alone
Being alone, by yourself, doesn’t truly help you get comfortable being alone or build self-confidence and self-worth.
When you’re alone, by yourself, you don’t have to have the internal battle over whether you’re being judged or if what you’re doing looks “stupid.” When you choose to be alone in front of other people, you publicly declare your worth to yourself. You have to fight [yourself] for it. (And really, if you never take yourself out in public, then it sounds like you’re in a relationship you’re ashamed of… Ask yourself, how does that make you feel?)
When you go out into a public setting and choose to eat alone, to watch a movie alone, or to enjoy a concert alone, you’re showing yourself and others that you deserve to enjoy places and experiences, and your ability to do so is not dependent upon other people.
If you always need a partner to do something, you’re declaring your own company to be subpar. You’ve decided that you cannot be present to take in a moment unless you’ve been validated by the presence of another.
Also, bonus: when you do something alone, the time is yours to control. The moment is yours to take in. When you’re alone, you give yourself permission to suck in a little more air, to take up a little more space. When you’re with someone else, it can diminish the quality of your experience.
Some experiences are more fully enjoyed with others, and some are more fully enjoyed alone.
When you eat alone, you show yourself that your own company is just as valuable as another's.
Practicing this one thing—taking yourself out and enjoying your own company—will help you feel stronger in your own presence, it will bring more conviction to the choices you make on your own behalf, and it will help you build resilience to perceived judgment.
Really Ask Yourself
Imagine you had a coworker or friend and you asked them to go out to lunch and each time they say “Is Beth coming?” or “Can we ask Rob?” This coworker or friend never agrees to lunch with just you.
How would it make you feel? Maybe you would question whether you’re good company, or if you smell, or if you have weird eating habits.
Continually being included, only on the conditionality of another person, would eventually cause you to question how this person felt about you.
We don’t ask ourselves if our actions have had a negative impact on our own psyche. We don’t tend to evaluate how our own behavior impacts the way we feel about ourselves. And as humans, we’re seemingly predisposed to self-sabotage.
So, ask yourself, how would it feel to only be included on the condition of someone else? How would it feel to only be invited on the condition of someone else attending?
We give subtle messages to our own subconscious by isolating ourselves unless we have another person to accompany us. We deem our company not sufficient for public display and therefore we wait for another person so we can show the world that we are worthy of someone’s time.
Matter to You First
Be worthy of your own time, you’re important too, your opinion of you matters. Show that to yourself, and to others.
When you do, something magical happens. You become proud—of the you who wants to be out and the you who took yourself out. You get comfortable dismissing negative thoughts; your own, and the perceived or projected thoughts of others.
You form a relationship with yourself and you begin to treat yourself with the kindness and dignity you’d offer to any invited guest. You become just as important as the company you keep.
So go, take yourself out. Have appetizers, and dinner, and dessert. Order the bottle of wine. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated, so you know your worth.
Once you know your worth, confidence rolls in like the tide.