The Self-Confidence Game - A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

The Self-Confidence Game

confidence

A while back, someone left a comment in one of the posts regarding my before and after shots… something to the effect of “Just comparing your posture, the way you stand.. you just look so much more confident.”

And as much as I hated it, I agree with it. I’m much more comfortable with who I am… and while I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it had something to do with my new-found figure, I’d also be dishonest if I didn’t admit that it has far more to do with what I’ve learned during my journey – not only about myself, but about the environment in which I live.

I do believe that I exuded [what I believed was] confidence, before. It was a degree of confidence that worked for me at that time. I believed that I was confident because I was almost unstoppable. And that made sense. I was proud of my ability to achieve the things I had achieved, proud of the connections I had made at such a young age and proud of how I had leveraged my abilities in a way that always kept me afloat…. however “afloat” applied to the situation.

But for me, it was always a little hollow. There was always this nagging thought in the back of my mind that there was something that I couldn’t conquer… something that I couldn’t defeat. So, for me, my self-confidence was lacking. It was visible on the outside, but on the inside? Empty. Hollow.

There was always this one thing that I couldn’t shake, and it made me uncomfortable in certain situations. I was always a little uncomfortable eating in certain environments. I was always afraid to be caught going to and from fast food restaurants. Certain situations were things that just couldn’t be explained by my amazing abilities and talents, and because I knew how judgy society could be… there was always certain situations where I felt like I was always running and hiding. Really.

As I said, I’d be lying if I didn’t experience a raise in my self-confidence when my body began to change. I look back, now, on the photos I took and posted, and I smile at myself. Not because I looked good – I did, though – but because I was proud. I was proud of my ability to achieve the things I’d achieved, proud of how I’d used the connections I’d made at such a young age, and proud of how I leveraged my abilities in a way that always kept me focused on my end result.

Sound familiar?

For some reason, my inability to control my weight dogged at me and kept me from feeling completely confident. Was it because I was aware of how society feels about fat girls? Was it because my weight was an element of my life that I couldn’t control? Or was it the fact that I felt some kinda way about my failure to manage my eating habits in a fashion that didn’t harm me in the end? I don’t know… I don’t know that I’ll ever know.

What I do know, however, was that there was a point where that all started to change for me. I started to realize how useless and stupid society can truly be when it comes to weight and wellness. I started to realize that my ability – really, my inability – to control myself was altered by things I had never even thought of before. I started to realize that managing my eating habits required more than simple efforts in this day and age. I became more aware.

That, to me, is where it gets interesting. Self-confidence is defined as self-assuredness in one’s personal judgment, ability and power.

If that’s the definition of self-confidence, then wouldn’t it make sense that mine would feel hollow? If I felt this kind of inner guilt about my inability to control myself or even manage my looks in a way most appropriate to myself… wouldn’t it make sense that my self-confidence would feel empty?

I’ve received so many e-mails from women who say that they “don’t know how to love themselves,” and I understand that feeling. When I was at a point in my life where it felt like that guilt was unbearable, it did feel difficult to love myself and trust in my ability to care for myself. No matter what I was doing for others on the outside, I always had to contend with this when I got home at night. It was much easier to lose myself in work, school, family, whatever than it was to lose myself… in myself. Focusing on myself would only remind me of this thing that I felt so guilty about. Not focusing on myself, however, would only ensure that things would get further out of control.

But why do I feel guilty? If it’s because of how people will look at me… can I really ever change that? Listen… I’m more self-confident now than I’ve ever been, and now people call me arrogant… because, y’know, heaven forbid I be aware of my power and how I can successfully wield it. I had to learn, the hard way, that society will beat you down if you let them. I think they call it “…crabs in a barrel syndrome?”

A syndrome where a group of like situated people hurt those in their community attempting to get ahead.

Often this is applied to people in an impoverished community where one person is starting to get ahead. The collective community becomes jealous or filled with a sense of self-loathing, so they find a way to pull that person back down to the community’s level.

When harvesting crab, the crab as a group will pull down any crab that starts to climb out of the barrel in an attempt to be the first out of the barrel that holds them in, hence crabs-in-a-barrel.

Sounds about right, right? In a community where very few people understand what it means to organically develop a sense of self-confidence, anyone who creates their own would immediately be shunned, clowned, insulted, or… get this:

“…brought down a notch or two.”

Get the hell outta here. I can’t be the only person who’s witnessed women (and men!) say this about someone.

I find that when I talk to a lot of women who were in situations similar to my own, they try to fill the void in their sense of self-confidence by seeking outside resources to give them reasons to be confident. They fish for compliments… or they go out and engage in promiscuous behavior. And I don’t mean “Oh, I’m in charge of my sexuality” – I don’t mean “that brand of promiscuity.” I mean the “Well, he told me everything I wanted to hear… so I slept with him and now I haven’t heard from him.” brand of promiscuity. (I’ll also mention that there are people with a vested interest in making sure we are never fully self-confident… because then, they couldn’t take advantage of us. Predatory individuals, yes. They exist.) If you have a hole in your self-confidence… you will fill it improperly.

You can’t do that. I hope it’s obvious as to why. When you use outside resources to give your confidence a boost… what happens when those resources disappear? You’re left with the same void.. possibly even more desperate to fill it again. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

Self-confidence is self-assuredness in one’s personal judgment, ability and power.

Learning how to truly take care of my body and myself was what allowed me to develop my confidence. Learning what makes me tick – as an individual – empowered me in ways that no series of one-night-stands or silly compliment quests could accomplish. Developing a system where I could adequately judge what I allow in my life? Of all the things I’ve achieved in my life, of everything that I’m honored to have participated in… nothing tops that. Not even having a child. Why? Because what I’ve learned, I can still pass down to her and create a lineage of self-confident, self-controlled women. How incredible is that?

Why is self-confidence a game? Because it’s a board full of players, all trying to keep you from the goal line. So many people around you are invested in you never becoming self-assured… self-aware… self-confident. If you never think you can do it on your own, you’ll constantly seek out someone or something to “help” you. You have to cleverly maneuver your way through them all, avoid getting sucked back into the silliness, and come out on top. What does it mean to come out on top? Finally achieving results.

What better way to reinforce the idea that your personal judgment, ability and power are good enough for you to feel confident in them?

I say to every woman out there – I say to myself – take a long, hard look at your individual sense of self-confidence. Determine if you do feel that there’s a void that you’re filling with anything other than yourself… then take active – and I do mean active – steps to change that. Nothing more empowering than seeking out information, putting that into action, and seeing results.

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

15 Comments

  1. Leah

    December 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    I too feel as though I’m running from certain situations and at times feel like a fraud. In our home school co-op most of the families are clean eating,vegetarian, vegan,or raw. I hate lunch time because I am one of the very few overweight moms and feel like my family’s lunch is being analyzed. It is probably the healthiest meal we eat all week out of fear of ostracism. Of course I know that this cannot be the motivation for clean eating and a healthy lifestyle but how do I really work through that? I am so grateful for you and this blog to remind me of what I already know but have pushed to the back of my mind because of fear, doubt or just plan laziness.

  2. Tenika

    May 31, 2011 at 3:18 AM

    What u say is so true. Being a 29 year old female restarting a business in the beauty industry, being overweight I never thought I was good enough. That all changed a few months back coming across your page on fb and also a great lady impatient dieter on utube. We store so much in our subconcious mind that we feel we will fail at losing weight if we try again.You can purchase. Record ur own messgages of encouragement wake up in the middle of the night listen 4 2minutes & go nback 2 bed. That will start breaking ur old way of thinking. Also meditation for a quick 2 minutes @ night giving thanx. In the mornin focusing on what u want will help overcome those barriers. I’m talking as an overweight girl who always lacked confidence which only got worse over the years, me believing I didn’t get along with females as they had issues when in reality I felt inadequate around them.Also I got rid of the weak friends that encouraged being this way because they themselves felt they couldn’t achieve it (crabs in a barrel) I’ve always been on a search 4 self confidence happiness reading many self help books but now after research have put techniques to practice which dont take no longer than 10minutes a day & its changed my life 4 good. In 1 month have now lost 28 pounds and a further 7pounds this week as I write. I love me first then can start 2 love others

  3. Mel

    September 8, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    ::Sigh:: Erika, Erika, Erika, Erika. Please, PLEASE stop spilling my business all over this blog. SMH. I have been trying to understand in my head what it was that I was feeling. Hollow. Yea that pretty much sums it up. I have been reading your blog for the last 2 months, and I swear you have your ear to my inner dialogue. The self-compassion post, the self-confidence post, even the post about how your attitude may change toward yourself as you embark on your journey. I am having this issue and I’m pretty sure it is tearing me apart to some degree. My lack of inner self-confidence is beginning to permeate every other part of my life. I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams. Hopelessness, not desperation, is what I feel trying to attempt weight loss. Honestly I feel foolish; embarrassed even. I feel like I have all the tools I need, but there is something that is keeping me from getting started. What it is, is beyond me. Pride? Probably. I’m usually the one with the answers, but as of now, I have none. However, I appreciate BGG2WL and the beacon of hope it lends itself as. It’s a great resource. I believe I have some serious soul searching to do.

    • KANEKA

      June 14, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      Mel,

      I think any self-reflective person will feel the EXACT SAME WAY. I think Erika is a bit more eloquent than I would be, but more often than not I experience some form of déjà vu while reading this blog.

      I feel like she’s peering into my life so much that she’s hiding in my closet or something!

  4. Michelle

    September 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Thank you so much for this blog post! I really needed it. I myself have struggled with the confidence thing allowing others to feed off of me. As long as I was in my place they were all right but when I got tired of it there was a problem. I know that my light needs to shine and it doesn’t do me or anyone else any good to hide it. I know now that I MUST free myself of this weight not just for the look but because it is holding me back from doing the things that I want to do. I also know that there are people watching and I want to be a good example for my younger family member. Thanks again. Your posts are very insightful.
    Michelle

  5. Andrea

    September 8, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    God Bless you Chick!!!! i needed to see and read this!

  6. Cherished131

    December 11, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I been on the commitment to loose weight roller coaster for quite some time trying lots of different things. In my recent counseling session, I learned that I didn’t love myself and that had a great affect on the choices I was making in my life. Since the start of December I have been able to stick to my workout regime with a vigor that I have never seen before for both my physical and emotional health…and as a consequence of learning to self-love my self-confidence has gone up. I only wish that I would have learned this earlier in my life journey. I recently uploaded a picture to FB via mobile for my profile pic’. I didn’t delete the post right away so I have dozens of people comment on how pretty the picture was. I’m 100% convinced that it wasn’t the outside they were looking at but the inside: A true mirror reflection of self-love. I pray this post helps someone in their journey to finally commit on all levels to themselves.

  7. marie

    December 19, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Definitely the best article!
    The life journey actually starts there
    It is now time for me to take action! :)

  8. Jenn

    May 10, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Thank you for this!!!

  9. Rooo

    May 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    “I’ll also mention that there are people with a vested interest in making sure we are never fully self-confident… because then, they couldn’t take advantage of us. Predatory individuals, yes. They exist.”

    I needed that reminder, E.
    Thanks (I think. LOL).

  10. Heather

    February 26, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Thank you for shining a light on what I’ve been going through. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me, but something clicked when I read this. I’ve been working out and eating better for a while, but it’s really the past few months that I’ve felt this confidence boost that I couldn’t explain. I’ve been educating myself in various ways – how exercise affects your body and mind, how to lift weights with proper form and why, how certain foods affect your body and how to balance macros, etc. You’re absolutely right: Learning is so empowering. I approach challenging situations differently now because I’ve done some research and I have a higher degree of confidence going in. I might not be successful, but I give it all I’ve got. Thank you! <3

  11. Ann Clyde

    February 26, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    So on point..I have grown in self confidence over the last year, and I’ve lost twenty pounds in this same time period..chicken or egg? I don’t know. This post puts my assumptions about who I am to myself on blast..standing firmly in my power and potential has taken me a lifetime…losing weight is not a joke..emotionally I feel with each pound I lose I am becoming more raw..becoming more grounded in what my body and life needs to grow..internalizing my sucesses is important to me..keeps me in the game when my ass wants more than anything to slack..keep the conversation coming..I am listening..bless you girl

  12. Victoria Ross

    July 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    At this time on my journey I really needed to read this. Your blog has helped me to realize not only who and what I want to be, but HOW I’m going to get there. And I will be forever grateful for that!

    Thanks a million.
    Victoria

  13. Greg

    July 16, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Erika, I really like this post. I think you’ve nailed it here. Self confidence exists to a degree in all of us but I hadn’t realized that we can always have more until I read your story here.

    We also have “crabs in a barrel syndrome” in Australia but we call it “tall poppy syndrome” because those that stand out above the rest get chopped down.

    A weight loss journey can be very difficult. It does take a lot of self control, and getting through one builds character. You have done really well with what you’ve achieved. I hope, personally, to achieve something similar.

    Don’t pay any attention to the “board full of players”. Sorry but, to hell with them. It is self-confidence afterall and they should have no say in how we feel. Anyone on a program to slim down needs to realize that they are already taking active steps. Enjoy your wins and don’t let others drag you down or ruin them for you.

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