Confidence. It’s a word that brings images of heads held high, and makes us think of bold, strong voices. People say that confidence is a highly attractive trait, and it’s generally believed that confidence leads to success.
It’s also something I did NOT have as a teenager.
In high school, I wasn’t confident in my academic career, my friendships, or in romance. I was awkward, shy, unpopular, and timid. A lot of it had to do with the types of popularity contests and cliques that high school is filled with. Many of the people I went to high school with were more concerned about whether they could sit with the “cool kids” at lunch, or whether you were wearing name brand shoes, than they were with doing well in school. Since I was a kid who wore cheap shoes and sat in the corner with a book all the time, I didn’t fit in there.
A lot of changes took place once I entered college. For one thing, college is much more of a personal choice than high school is. While some students might feel they are pressured by their parents to attend college, in the long run, college enrollment is voluntary. High school education, on the other hand, is required by law until the age of 16. The fact that college is voluntary means the students you meet here tend to be more interested in their education. The friends I have at school tend to discuss class projects, work together in studying and critiquing each others’ papers, and generally have a lot more concern about their success. There were kids I knew in high school that never did any work at all and who constantly wound up in detention because of their poor behavior; those kids didn’t end up going to college, most likely because of their negative attitudes.
Being around more positive, supportive people has had a good impact on my confidence and self-esteem. No one seems to care that I wear shoes from Walmart instead of Nikes. I’ve never seen someone in a college class acting up and throwing things like some of the troublemakers in high school did. There’s a lot more respect and support.
Another reason I have more confidence in college is that I can get a lot more personal support from my teachers. In high school, my teachers generally didn’t have time to help an individual student outside of class. My college professors, on the other hand, devote certain times each week to meeting with students in their office, in order to answer any questions they might have. There are times when I’m not sure if I’m doing a certain project or paper the right way, and it’s helpful to be able to get feedback that points me in the right direction. I also know throughout the whole semester how I’m doing grade-wise.
I’ve developed a lot more confidence as an adult than I used to have as a teenager. I’m sure that my increased confidence is going to help me in the future. I’m already seeing the beginnings of success, and there’s no negative people around me to hold me back.