Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does Confidence Improve With Age?

Last night I went to see the movie The Help with two of my friends. I didn't like it better than the book, but for a book turned movie, it was very good. Abilene's attempt to instill confidence in Elizabeth's poor daughter with the lines "you is kind, you is smart, you is important" got me to thinking about confidence.

When I'm teaching kids, the number 1 way I develop their confidence is to build their independence. I wish I had a video of the day a girl in my summer school class put up a chair by herself with no help. To her, it was more exciting than winning the lottery or even extra recess. When a child proves to themselves they can do something, there is no greater confidence booster.

I remember being told more than once by people older than me that we gain confidence as we get older. Certainly in some areas of my life, I have absolutely gained confidence. In others though, I disagree with this statement. Here is a brief list of times I have exhibited confidence:

*I have a friend that I have gone to school with since kindergarten. Our paths really crossed in high school when I started dating one of his friends. Somehow I found out that he did not like me, for reasons I cannot remember now. What I do remember was my reaction, which was to make it my personal mission in life to get him "on my side." I made a serious effort to get to know him better, and he ended up being one of my best friends in college. I showed confidence in my belief that if he knew me better, he would like me.

Okay fine, this picture makes it look like he still doesn't like me, but I am dressed as a 50s housewife and he is a ?, so who knows really!

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*In July 2004, I got on a plane and traveled to the other side of the world by myself. I showed confidence in my belief that I could do it on my own.

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*In college, I had the same roommate all 4 years, still one of my best friends. Ash is a very smart and beautiful girl and many BC boys had crushes on her. A couple of times, they were turned down by her, and then decided I was the next best thing. Yeah... no amount of Keystone Lights can make that seem like a good idea :) (funny story now though!) I showed confidence in my belief that I am better than that.

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*In September 2007 some crazy person put 22-year-old me in charge of 21 kindergarten kids. I showed confidence in my belief that I could keep them safe, make them love school, and maybe even teach them to read.

*In April 2009 I started a blog. I showed confidence in my belief that someone, somewhere might actually care to read my stories.

Would I still do all of these things? Well, I'm sure I wouldn't get on a plane and move to Australia :) Experience improves our confidence as we get older. I have already jumped on that plane to Australia, I know I can do it and don't need to do it again to prove it to myself. I have already survived that first year of teaching and 4 years after it, I know I am a good teacher. By the time you reach your mid/late twenties, you've had people criticize you, you've failed many times, and hopefully you've come out stronger on the other end.

But, circumstance may also lower our confidence. In college, my confidence was tested weekly in many different ways. I was constantly put in situations that were unfamiliar, and forced to take new risks. I would still say my confidence continues to be tested on at-least a weekly basis, but now it's very often at work in very similar ways. Therefore, 90% of the time, it involves having confidence in myself as a teacher. I think when we "grow up" we have to really force ourselves to not get too comfortable :) That's especially hard for me because I am not a big risk taker, and I love comfort. Also, with my dearest husband- risks now involve much scarier things like helicopters with no doors...


Tell me about a time you showed confidence :) Do you think your confidence has improved with age?


  1. Parenting brings confidence, no matter what. Even if you don't think you can handle the challenge, you are amazed at just how much you are capable of when you are solely responsible for another life. It's cliche, but being a parent has changed me in so many ways, and I see that confidence in all I do

  2. I really like this post! I will never forget when one of my best friends told me that she was envious of how confident I was when I was 19. I felt like that was a really nice compliment for a 19 year old.

    I would say the one area I've struggled in the most throughout my life is body confidence. But I've VASTLY improved on that over the years and I would say I'm happy and confident with my body 90% of the time now.

    To be honest, I feel like I'm a fairly confident person. I don't doubt myself often and even when I do I usually give myself a good pep talk and get over it. I definitely think EXPERIENCE helps with confidence levels. I was not feeling so confident when I did my sprint triathlon but now if I was to do another one I would feel great about it I think!

  3. moving across the country? i think that the past year (since graduating college) i have gotten so much more confidence. last summer was definitely a turning point for me and i hope i can continue to shine! hahahah. that sounds wayyyy nerdy!

  4. I think it's experiences that help you gain confidence. Like in teaching, I imagine the first time you stepped in front of a classroom, you were 100% confident but as you've done it more and more, you've gained confidence. I just think life gives us confidence but it can also take it away. A bad experience in a teaching internship has given me self-consciousness in my working style. But I think as I show myself and others how much I am capable of, my confidence will grow again.

  5. Interesting.... I definitely think I have grown more confidence with age. Things like getting married, buying/caring for a home, running a marathon have taught me a lot about myself.

  6. First, I agree with you on The Help! I loved the book and the movie, but the book definitely wins it all.

    For me, I definitely have gotten more confident with age. I used to care so much about what people think and that held me back a lot in middle school/high school. I "came out of my shell" in college and that has definitely been a good thing!

  7. My confidence has most certainly improved with age. And the older I get, the less i care about what others think of me. I think studying abroad was a huge confidence booster for me. Same goes for living alone.

    My confidence was REALLY tested when I made the decision to leave a horrible job in the spring of 2010. I was miserable and depressed and sort of a shadow of myself and it took a long time to shake that experience. But now I am stronger as a result...

  8. My confidence has definitely gotten better throughout the years. As I have grown up and had successes and failures I have gained perspective and that has given me so much confidence. I do not rely on other people's opinions anymore as I did in my early twenties and am willing to stand up for what I believe in without knocking someone else to the ground with my beliefs.
    The biggest decision I had to make that has boosted my self confidence is quitting my job to enter a new career. Some people still think I am crazy, but they are not me and I am doing what is right for ME. Feels incredible.
    Great post, Kelly! Loved it! :)

  9. Great post KElly. I think I have always thought I was more confident than I really am. Either tha, or it's decreasing with age....I can't tell. It's strange too, because you would think I'd be MORE confident now that I have someone who loves me, and a GREAT job. But no, it's almost like there are more people to compare myself too, and that dwindles my confidence. But you're right, independence and the ability to be independent is KEY to confidence development. I'm working on that one :)

  10. I like this post : ) I go back and forth a lot about whether I think I'm a confident person or not.. haha I can't even be confident in the fact that I'm confident! I think it depends on the situation, and like Stephany said - it grows with experience, but I'd say in general I am a confident person.
    I also agree that you shouldn't ever get too comfortable with your routine/life/etc. I'm like you (must be genetic) but I'm trying to force myself to not be afraid of change and not get too comfortable.