Building your self-confidence can be difficult when you start university. You are finding your place in a new location with a new group of people. In times of change, self-confidence can drop, leaving us anxious and hesitant, fuelling our inner critic. However, there are ways to counteract this.
It’s never too early to start building your self-confidence, and this should be something you work on consistently through your college or sixth form years.
Do one thing, every day if possible, that scares you. Whether that’s standing up in class to give a presentation, calling a local company for some valuable work experience, or joining in a new activity or club. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a massive leap towards building your self-confidence.
Making use of the support and guidance available is kind of a no-brainer and probably the first place to start at university or college. There will be a lot of useful information available to you which can prove essential for the rest of your university experience.
For example, many universities have a Student Services team, who offer support and advice for students. These services can range from counselling and mental health support, support for those with disabilities, and financial support and advice.
Most colleges will also have a careers or wellbeing advisor who can help you. And don’t forget… your teachers care about you and are more than willing to listen and help you.
No matter how scary it is, talking can make you feel so much better about your problems. If help is on offer, take it!
By visualising the ideal university you’d like to attend and the best course you’d like to study, you can take positive steps to achieve this. It may sound a bit silly, but making these moves can help you focus on something you really want and help you achieve it.
This attitude can also be applied during your university years and throughout other parts of your life too. As early as possible, set yourself some clear goals: whether it’s to achieve a certain grade by the end of your university experience, or to end up in a certain industry. By visualising what you want to achieve and setting out clear, reachable goals and benchmarks to get there, it can help put your achievements into perspective and build your confidence as you tick things off.
If you have a tendency to be shy, set yourself mini personal challenges, especially during the first few weeks of university. This can be simple things like smiling at the person that sits next to you in your lectures, or saying ‘yes’ to going along with classmates for a coffee or a post-9am lecture brunch. As you complete each challenge, you’ll feel your self-confidence growing.
Food can be an incredibly effective tool for getting people to bond, so whether you go out to eat or cook at home with your flatmates, it can help create feelings of trust and increase closeness.
As you go along, remind yourself of the positive steps you’ve taken, perhaps writing them down in a notebook once a week. This can help build your self-confidence back up when you’re having a particularly bad day.
Surrounding yourself with positive people is a major step towards building your self-confidence. It’s important to realise which friends build you up and which friends do not. University can be a great time to get rid of the friends who make you feel negative or encourage bad habits, and form friendships with new people you can have fun with and who don’t drain your energy levels.
However, be mindful of the fact that not all of the people that you meet during university will share the same values as you and that’s ok. It may take time to find the right fit in terms of friendship groups, and despite the fact that it’s human nature to want everyone to like you, not everyone will (and this works both ways). So, don’t feel pressured or allow people to knock your confidence.
Some of the harshest comments you will ever receive will come from your inner critic. Throughout new experiences, self-confidence can be at its lowest which can mean your inner critic will become overactive and for the most part, inaccurate.
When anxiety starts to get the better of you, ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’. By taking the time to step back and evaluate the situation at hand, it can help to give you some perspective to deal with the situation. The more you do this and improve the way you deal with any issues that arise, the more it will have a positive impact on your confidence levels, calming your inner critic dramatically.
Nothing will damage your confidence more than focusing on those little mistakes and dwelling on things you wish you hadn’t said. So, it’s easier said than done, but don’t take yourself so seriously.
You will inevitably make mistakes and have moments you wish had never happened (many of which may occur in the students’ union), but so will everyone else. Share these stories with the people you trust and learn to laugh at yourself.
Remember, building your self-confidence can take a long time. If those around you seem to have it more together, it may be that they’ve been working on their self-confidence for a long time, or it’s a façade they choose to show around others. But either way, it’s important to focus on yourself primarily and not to compare yourself to others.
Make sure you take the time to calm your inner-critic, throw yourself into new activities and surround yourself with people who build you up. The more positive steps you take, the more improvements you will see, and this will inevitably allow you to enjoy your college and university experience.
Written by: Sam Monks
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