Almost every dating blogger has done a post on confidence at some point. Most posts of these tend to focus on body image. This post however, is going to go down a slightly different route.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my issues with body confidence back in the day. In school, I was the class freak: at least a foot taller than everyone else in my class, stick thin in a time when magazines were doing the whole “Guys prefer curvy girls!” thing, plus frizzy, mouse-brown hair, bad dress sense, and braces. I was completely invisible to the opposite sex, and I knew it.
But when I started sixth form, everything changed. I put on about half a stone, dyed my hair blonde, and no longer restricted to school uniform, my dress sense and make-up skills improved. People treated me differently. People started conversations with me and invited me to do things. On my first night out drinking, boys initiated conversations with me and took an interest in what I had to say. This had never happened before. To my surprise, I’d hear people start to describe me as “pretty”, or even “hot”. Don’t get me wrong, I was no supermodel, but I was slim and attractive. When I started going out more, for the first time in my life, guys actually showed an interest in me.
But, only up to a point. I was always the shy one in school, and that side of me was something I still struggled with. People at school would show interest in me initially, then get bored. I had a good group of friends outside school, but while they all coupled up, I stayed single. I had the odd drunken kiss here and there, but it never progressed further than that. My friends would get with guys at parties, and the guys would go on to pursue them for a relationship. But when it came to me, I never heard back from them.
“I think guys like the look of you…” I remember a friend saying to me one time.
But they didn’t like me as a person.
My looks were writing cheques that my personality couldn’t cash.
The same trend continued when I went to university. Guys would try and sleep with me, but they didn’t want to date me. The attention went to the louder girls.
“You need to be more confident!”, people would tell me.
But confidence is a bit like a vicious cycle. If you have people fawning over you telling you how great you are, you’ll feel confident. Then subsequently, end up with more people fawning over you. If you have people telling you you’re not that great, or just passing you over, you’ll feel unconfident. Then subsequently get passed over more. I had people compliment me on my looks, so I felt confident in that area. My personality however, was always criticised, or just overlooked, so in that department I always felt insecure.
Once I got into my twenties, I took a gap year where I volunteered in Tanzania, started forging my career, ran various blogs, and just generally did a lot of things on my own. It put me in a position where instead of relying on other people’s opinions about myself, I began to rely on… my own opinion. And I started to quite like myself. I formed my own opinions and wasn’t afraid to express them. I formed my own identity. One other people could either love or hate. But one I was happy with.
I find I still don’t get the reactions from other people that I want. I moved to London earlier this year without knowing a huge number of people there, so I’m still in the process of “branching out”. I’ve met a few cool people through work and Bumble BFF, but it’s happened plenty of times where I’ve met someone I got on with, hung out once or twice, then they’ve disappeared on me. I find when I go on dates the guys usually want to see me again, but on the rare occasions I actually like a guy, they’d get with me, but they don’t want to date me. They like how I look, but they don’t like me as a person.
I’m not shy, but I’m not loud. I have a short fuse for inconsiderate behaviour and I’ll let someone know if they’re being a fool, but I don’t seek attention or create drama. I’m considerate, and don’t flake out on people last minute without a decent excuse. I’m the girl who would show up to your birthday with a card and a present. I’m the friend that you could rely on if you needed something. I’m extremely passionate. These are qualities that I value about myself, but they’re just not what other people value.
I think my criteria is different to others. I like people who are considerate, reliable, and up for doing things. I like people who have passions. I like people who take an interest in things like elephant conservation, charity fundraising- anything that’s not themselves. But others, like the drama queens. The people who are centre of attention. The people people. I like outgoing people, but I like the ones who extend that to everyone, not just those they want to impress. I have beliefs and opinions that not everyone agrees with. I’m conservative, but western culture glorifies promiscuity. It’s not that people, or men, want someone better than me. They just want something different.
However, I use Twitter a lot, and I’ve seen tweets where men have expressed a preference for a woman like me. I’ve met people online and bonded though shared opinions. I’ve bonded with other conservative women. I’m just catering to a niche market. But finally, I’m comfortable in my skin, and I’m happy with that.