One of our former intern, Sarah Smith, has been teaching out at Haileybury International School in Beijing, China. She recently heard this inspiring speech from one of her students, Beverley, about her journey with developing her confidence.
Over to Beverley...
May I ask you a question first? Do you like yourself?
When we were children, one of our favorite things to do was to staring at ourselves in the mirror. We absolutely love our reflections. When I was young, my father used to take a lot of photos of me, I was so happy and I gave lovely poses to my father, but now, I don't like taking photos of myself anymore because I think I look terrible in those photos.
When is it suddenly not ok to love the way we are?
Some of my friends have healthy body shapes, but they are always saying:" Hey Beverly, you know what, I decided to lose weight, so please don't ask me to go to dinner!" I also heard that a friend of a friend went into hospital because of wearing colored eye lenses. She was obsessed with changing her eyes. Apparently, people don't like themselves, especially teenagers. They are doing things, sometimes even harmful things, to change or cover their own appearances. These kind of stories keep happening around me every day so I asked myself, why does it happen?
In fact, people's pursuit of beauty has a strong connection with self-confidence and self-esteem. You are not confident enough so you try those things to make yourself look good.
Now, I want to ask you two questions. Firstly, have you been called fat, ugly, short or anything else that make you feel bad? Secondly, have you judged others with these words?
I remembered that some of my classmates were judging the appearances of new students when they met them for the first time. I guessed that they did the same thing on me when I was first came to the school. These judgements were absolutely irresponsible and insulting. I've been called ugly, dark skinned, short…mostly short. So I started to doubt, am I really ugly? I asked my parents the same question, their answer was “NO!”, so I got confused. If you think back, you will find you have a similar experience to me.
Maybe you have done these things to others, but you though it was ok, it was just a joke, but people's irresponsible judgements can easily destroy teenagers' fragile confidence. Another point I want to raise is about how the society keeps providing stereotypical images of women and men. A stereotype is a fixed general image or set of characteristics that a lot of people believe represents a particular type of person or thing. Nowadays, businesses keep providing advertisements that spread ideas like beautiful women should be slender and tall, or a real man should have muscles and a strong body. This is one of their main strategies of selling their product, but the influences of these advertisements were poison. Zero-size models... Beach bodies... Muscles...
People start to compare themselves with such images and feel less confidant.
I want to urge you to stop making irresponsible judgements about yourself and other people. Your words give impact to people's inner lives. We are already teenagers and we have to be responsible for our language. We have no right to takeaway other's confidence, and no one has the right to take away ours. People can judge others only because of what they do, but not what they look like. Secondly, every single one of us should be aware of how to build up our own confidence. It is an essential part of your personality. Without confidence, you will suffer and live in the shadow of depression. Everyone has strength and weakness, but because of inferiority and shame, your weakness can be overstated, so my suggestion of building confidence is to find your strength.
I want to share my experience with you. When I was in middle school, my scores were lower than my friends, and I also didn't know my strength. So I doubted my ability and therefore, lack of confidence. However, when I started to study in an international school, I found myself pretty good at English, and learning language is the thing that I enjoy. Now, I feel much more confident than I used to be. So, please find things you like or you are really good at, and keep doing those things. You will grow a sense of achievement or happiness, and then, confident will come back to you, slowly, but continuously.
The time to act is now! Confidence is the stepping stone to success. Don't let others' judgements control your mind, and be aware to love yourself. Step out from the shadows. Love yourself more so that other people can love you more! Thank you!