MS-CS: My Self-Confidence Story

I don’t know much about other people but I do know about myself. I tell my stories better than anyone and here’s an example of just that: self-confidence.

Me in Canary Wharf in London, UK

I spoke yesterday about earning the right to call yourself self-(anything). Earned by yourself by growing through experiences and making mistakes. It’s the first taste of self-employment, you taking charge and responsibility for yourself.

I figured I’d share my own story of becoming self-confident.

I’m self-confident enough in myself to post mid-shot pictures that show my real emotions in the moment. No matter how crazy I look, the emotion is pure and one of happiness.

I’d like to preface by saying that you will not always feel self-confident, it’s an emotion that, like any other emotion, has the ability to move in and out of the frame. If someone tells you that they’re constantly self-confident, they’re lying. Everyone has fear and it’s okay to admit that.

Second admission is that my self-confidence is at a steady state now. Enough so that I’m comfortable sharing the journey, however there is one area I have always struggled to muster up the courage and belief in myself. That is with girls. I’ve mentioned this before in another blog but it plays a central role to this story so it’s worth another mention.

My self-confidence story starts in a town called Plumstead. Nestled in South East London, I lived there for 9 years before moving to Sidcup. In Plumstead is where this journey begins.

I think from an early age it was noticeable that I was quite outspoken. I had views and I didn’t particularly like working in a team. I was independent and always wanted to be centre of attention. Whether that directly affected my self-confidence is unknown to me — it did affect my development.

It could be perceived that I was self-confident. I received a lot of attention at home and I was always listened to for my ideas and revelations about the world. Perks and curses of being an only child I suppose. I was sure of myself. I was confident, right?

Not quite.

I was bullied during primary school. Because of these outspoken views. I had few friends and my confidence within wore thin.

Being outspoken and sure of your opinion doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be self-confident.

I moved schools for a better future and the same happened again. I remember at the time I thought it was a cycle that I was trapped in. I never questioned my personality, but who does at 10 years old?

This story is probably making yawn. Let me spice it up a bit.

Me at Shooters Hill Golf Club aged 8 in London, UK

The drama and realisation that my personality was a problem came when I joined Sidcup Golf Club. I was already a member at Rochester & Cobham Park Golf Club but it was too far to go after school and too much hassle, Sidcup GC was close. By this time, I had no friends to play golf with at Rochester. Not because there wasn’t anyone there.

I had annoyed everyone with my cockiness and arrogance. When it came to golf, I was always told I was talented so I didn’t work hard. There’s an excellent quote that I had as my phone wallpaper during this time:

Simple but effective. That quote summed me up. It was the epitome of my existence.

I came to Sidcup and annoyed people there too.

You’re probably thinking how I annoyed people? I tended to laugh if someone hit a bad shot or make a sarcastic comment to make them feel less of themselves.

I didn’t do this because I wanted to, I felt the urge to. I had been bullied all my life and I wanted my own back. My envy and jealousy got the better of me and I paid the consequences. Playing golf on my own.

For a kid around the age of 12, that’s demoralising. I think that’s when I started to think the world was against me. The world hit me down when I was bullied and didn’t accept me when I turned into the bully. Where was my place?

Me in 2015 having had a successful season at Sidcup Golf Club in Sidcup, Kent, UK

I worked on myself. Focused on mental game. So much so that I didn’t care about anyone else’s golf game. It led me to success and a return of self-confidence.

Not arrogance. Self-confidence and self-belief. I no longer had to prove myself because my ego had been satisfied.

While my self-confidence in golf was on a high, my personal self-confidence was terrible. I had no idea how to dress correctly, present myself or act in social situations outside my comfort zone.

This means girls. I never knew the best way to interact with them for fear of embarrassing myself or looking immature or incapable.

This was a problem until I finished sixth form and started university. It’s still a problem today. I don’t want to give the wrong impression and I’m always checking myself to make sure I limit the ambiguity.

It might have something to do with the fact I went to an all-boys school. But friends of mine had girlfriends and knew these things. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t popular? Maybe it’s because I was so focused on academics I never saw anything else as important?

Whatever the reason, I soon overcame my fear and immersed myself fully in university life. Making new friends, boys and girls, it was an enlightening experience and brought my self-confidence up for sure.

Around December 2016, I slipped into an arrogant phase again. But this time I was hurting myself and not others. I had starting writing freelance on top of my job at Orpington Golf Centre. I earned good money but I decided to spend it and give it to charity. I didn’t class myself as a writer and I had ‘imposter’ syndrome. I thought the best port of call was to get rid of the money. After all, I wrote for fun but I just thought it was cool to get paid.

This was a mistake I later discovered. By depriving myself by reaping the rewards, I destroyed my self-confidence when contracts ran dry. I didn’t train myself to do better and get better contracts. By February 2017 I was earning good money and placing it into my savings. Keeping it for me. Best decision I made to stop the selfless arrogance. I’m not in a position yet where I can make everyone happy before myself. Why I did that I will never know.

Me at 360 Point in Austin, TX

Study abroad came around and a chance to salvage and restore self-confidence. I had already had a rush of it by achieving the first academic success un-pressured my society and only by myself.

I would say I came back much more humbled and with a better appreciation of myself and my surroundings. I realised I could do anything if I put my mind to it and moving abroad was never going to be a problem.

Coming back home after that adventure hit my self-confidence hard. I felt lost. I didn’t have a job and I was just a university student. Study abroad was over. All I had known went out the window.

From summer 2017 to now, I have doubted my appearance. Never seen how others would be appealed and I didn’t care much about how I presented myself. I found my style, shirt and black jeans and I didn’t think much of it.

After a little while I started to feel demotivated. I got a job which raised my moral self-confidence but my superficial self-confidence was at an all time low.

Finding a relationship I thought was the only way to escape that. I was wrong. I soon realised that finding someone that has equally as much ambition and drive as I do will inspire me to be better. Self-motivation only gets you so far, you need a support system to help you along the way too.

From that moment I stopped looking and looked at myself in the mirror. I said that no-one who isn’t as ambitious nor driven won’t be suitable for my lifestyle. It would be a toxic relationship.

My self-confidence was back. Priorities set and I knew what I wanted.

Everyone has a self-confidence story. Mine is a bit longer than most, it started a long time ago.

Alejandro (left) and I in Canary Wharf, London, UK

Talking to friends like Alejandro, who has done extremely well — working in One Canada Square after graduating from QMUL, is someone that shares similar experiences. It was great to get his insight today and it helped me to shape this blog.

People who are on paths to success you tend to hold onto because you want to be part of the journey. Alejandro is one of those people who has always looked confident. He might have feared things but always plays it cool. It’s admirable and I definitely look up to him.

Self-confidence is something that is earned definitely. I went to prison (metaphorically) essentially and upon my release vowed to make myself a better person for society.

It’s been a journey so far, I focus more on myself than worry about others.

I just need to remind myself ever so often.

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Danial Naqvi

Joint PhD Candidate Business & Management at Manchester & Melbourne| MSc UCL Science, Technology and Society | BA (Hons) QMUL Human Geography |