What I learnt from participants about boosting your confidence

The word impossible is written on a blackboard with a hand covering the letters I and M to boost confidence

If you’re a 16-year-old or the parent of one, you don’t need reminding it’s GCSE results day. Whatever the outcome, a lot of young people will be wondering about their next step today. Our Arts Engagement Worker Sophie has some tips about maintaining and boosting your confidence.

Hi. I’ve been doing lots of thinking about confidence recently as over the past month Participation Manager Dan and I have been running a Confidence Building Course for young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) through West Norfolk Council‘s Boost Programme.

I’ve really enjoyed the experience. It’s been great to watch them trust their own opinions and stand their ground to communicate what they want as their confidence has grown.

It got me thinking about confidence more broadly and how much the environment around us impacts our ability to implement it in our everyday lives.

In week one we met participants who were hesitant to share their thoughts and were self-conscious in games and exercises. By the end of the course they were armed with a plan of how to move forward to achieve their goals.

For some, without the course they would have been at home not engaging with others. Throughout the programme I could see them building relationships with other participants and enjoying the activities – finding motivation and enthusiasm.

They even stepped into the role of tutor and delivered exercises to the rest of the group themselves in week three, which would have been a huge mountain for them to climb when we first met.

I’ve always liked to think that I’m a confident person. Growing up I was never afraid to get up on a stage or talk in front of those I didn’t know. But I don’t think I fully recognised the stepping stones that existed in my life to make me feel that way.

I had supportive parents who never let me feel that goals were impossible. I went to a stage school that made me feel as if every actor, dancer and performer in the world was just another person. Not a mythical creature that simply came into existence as a famous person. My older sister often led the way ahead of me, so in true fake it until you make it mode, I would imitate her.

I had possibilities and, most importantly, I knew that. I could see pathways through jobs, pathways through education. I felt like I had the ability to explore. As I look around now – admittedly, older, hopefully wiser and more politically engaged – I can see how difficult it must be for some young people to find confidence in the current day.

Everywhere they look as they try to find their pathways, they are met with a predicament. The climate crisis, the cost of living crisis, an energy crisis; breaking points for staff in healthcare, education and the public sector. I wonder how accessible it is for young people to feel confident, to trust completely when all they can see is catastrophe around them.

I don’t mean for this blog to be shouting into the void or feeling disheartened. I want it to be helpful and supportive. So I shall share with you the top three confidence building tips that I learnt through the young people participating on our recent course.

Don’t wait to describe yourself as the person you want to be.

Take the time to write down three statements starting “I am…” about yourself that are true. Then write down three that you want to be true. Say them aloud to yourself each day, all six of them.

Recognise your abilities.

Take time to do a skills audit on yourself. What are you capable of? Go through everything – big and small. Can you use technology? Can you drive? Can you cook? You don’t have to have a qualification in something to be good at it. I often think my strongest skill is my ability to listen.

Set small goals.

Start small and realistic. If the ultimate dream is to run your own business, break it down. Maybe for the next week you just set yourself the challenge to get into a regular routine. Then move on to planning, networking and building your skills. In the first instance, a goal that is quick and easy to complete is best and you are much more likely to stick to it!

Give it a go and see if you find yourself feeling more confident. Hope it helps! Speak soon, Sophie.

Confidence tips graphic repeating three methods mentioned in blog text. Accompanied by a photo of Sophie

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