In my younger years, I struggled to obtain self-confidence. After a lifetime of weight fluctuations, low self-esteem, and a bevy of unforgiving insecurities, I had a hard time accepting myself. Then, right around the end of my high school career, I managed to accumulate a fair amount of confidence. I stood a little taller, spoke a little louder, and cared less about the opinions of others. Then I became a mother. There are definitely some things I'm glad I knew about my self-confidence before I had a baby because, well, if I didn't know the following I'm not too sure I would have made it through new motherhood in one piece.
Once I had my first baby, any confidence I had managed to find post-high school, suddenly vanished. With a body I no longer recognized, new mom doubts, and postpartum depression (PPD), the elusive feeling of self-assurance seemed so unattainable. I spent a lot of time wondering how I let it slip away, and how in the hell I was going to get it back. I couldn't walk out of the house proud, or with a specific poise that says "look out, world," and I couldn't help but wonder (and worry) if I'd ever feel that way again.
Sometime later, after suffering through two miscarriages and the delivery of my second child, I went through the same process again. The second time around, however, was different. I knew I couldn't go the rest of my life lacking the courage to openly be exactly who I am, without apology. I deserve better than that. I knew it then, and I know it now. Around my son's first birthday I felt more determined to re-discover the pieces of myself I had lost. With that, here are some things I'm glad I knew about my self-confidence before I had a baby. Without my specific experiences prior to becoming a mom, I never could have fully appreciated the confidence I exhume now.
It Comes & Goes
I never really thought about it before children, but after I became a mom I could clearly see how confidence ebbs and flows (much like relationships). No one can feel that amazing about themselves all the time, but I still put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to feel good immediately after giving birth. Then I remembered how many times throughout the course of my life I found confidence, only to lose it. Again. I knew my self-esteem was capable of coming back at any time, only to leave just as quickly. When I accepted that fact, I didn't beat myself up over not feeling 100 percent after labor and delivery (or any other time postpartum).
It Varies In Intensity
Confidence isn't something that's constant, in any way. Judging by my struggles growing up, the struggles of high school life, and the struggles of adulthood, It's obvious that sometimes I felt really good about myself, and other times I just feel OK.
For example, I could walk into a room without a single insecurity, but the moment I was asked to speak I would fold into myself. There's never any one, specific way to feel about any one, specific situation. So, to me, confidence is learning to be OK with the different levels of assertiveness.
I Can't Base It On One Instance
I can an awful day full of insecurities due to weight or a breakout on my face, or a day when everything I touch turns to gold. That's why I know not to base my entire view of myself on any one situation or circumstance. If the confidence was there at some point, it'll come back. Likewise, if I have it, I know there will come a time it fades.
When It Returns, It's Stronger Than Before
Maturing into my skin and accepting my flaws are part of the confidence learning curve.
Before I had a baby, I could feel my confidence flow in and out of me, as often as the oxygen I breathed. I would always panic when my confidence left, but when it returned I always felt a little bit stronger than I did before. Growing up and becoming a mother have definitely contributed to my added confidence, but because of how I dealt with it years prior, I already knew I'd end up this way.
Motherhood Will Help Build My Confidence Muscles
There's nothing like the responsibility of raising children to bring you back to your senses. My kids have both brought me down from feeling confident ("You're not wearing that, are you, mom?"), and lifted me up ("You're the strongest person I've ever seen, mom"). I knew a certain level of confidence would return upon finding my footing in my parental space, but I had no idea how powerful it would be in helping me feel this way all the time.
It's Mostly Mental
Sure, a good outfit or hair day helps pull the confidence into the open, but it's all a mental game. No matter what I look like or how I feel, I knew before I had a baby, if I let my doubts get the best of me, it'd take that much longer to ever feel confident again.
The Journey Is So Worth It
While I didn't know exactly how I'd feel about myself after having babies, I knew the journey would be worth it. I was right. Becoming a mother taught me more about myself than anything else possibly could. After enduring depression and low self-esteem, I held onto the hope my confidence as a mom would return someday. I was right, and it has.
If you're having one of those days where confidence is lacking, remember: it always comes back.