College life abounds with new experiences. Whether you are taking a new class, attending your first club meeting, or living away from home for the first time, you are bound to leave your comfort zone. This is a good thing! It is good to challenge yourself with new experiences, responsibilities, people, and ideas. However, leaving your comfort zone can be a little uncomfortable at first.
When confronted with so many different experiences at once, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and unprepared—a combination that can lead to a whole lot of self-doubt. If you find yourself struggling with these feelings, take a deep breath; this happens to everyone from time to time! Take a peek at this list of strategies that can help build your confidence and self-esteem.
1. Know yourself
Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals for yourself. For instance, are you a night owl? Signing up for 8 a.m. classes might challenge your ability to get to class everyday. If you miss too many classes, your grade will be negatively impacted causing you to feel crummy about yourself. See how this vicious cycle could have been avoided? While stretching yourself is a good way to grow, be sure you give yourself challenges that suit your personality.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others
One sure fire way to make yourself feel less than is to compare yourself to other people. Listen, everyone has his or her own strengths and their own areas of improvement. It isn’t fair to compare your struggles or wins to those of your peers.
3. Swap negative self talk with positive affirmations
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to say mean things to yourself. Telling yourself “I’ll never get this,” or “I’m just bad at math,” or asking, “what was I thinking—I would never have succeeded at this” only makes you feel low. Instead of filling your head with negativity, try turning these around. Try: “I know math doesn’t come easily to me, but I’m proud at how far I’ve come,” or “it’s good I’m challenging myself!” This change in perspective helps fuel your fight to grow, change, and experience new things.
4. Use mistakes as opportunities for growth
Mistakes are not just errors that prove you never should have tried a new skill in the first place; mistakes are opportunities to learn! When you get a bad grade on a quiz, look over your missed questions. Where did you go wrong? How can you ace this material on your upcoming test? While making mistakes can be discouraging or frustrating, embracing them as a necessary component of improvement is a good way to make the most out of every error.
5. Reach out!
You don’t have to do this all on your own. Nervous about joining a new club? Have a pal go with you! Are you struggling to improve your writing skills? Head over to your campus writing center. Are your grades not where you want them to be? Join a study group! Are you really struggling with your self-esteem? Make an appointment with the campus counseling center.
Whatever issue arises, there are people there to help you. If you have any questions about how you can conquer your fears and frustrations, reach out to your College Completion Coach to learn more!