You might have heard before that the key to forming successful relationships in college is by being an outgoing person: not being shy when someone sits next to you in lecture and always being the one who asks questions in class. The burden of making lifelong connections suddenly now weighs on your shoulders alone. A major component to becoming this outgoing person is confidence. Without it, it may seem like you will never speak to that one cute person in class, or more importantly never make connections with professors. Confidence is an arbitrary state of mind that it can be hard for many college students to channel that energy. In my experience, confidence is all about faking it until you make it.
Freshly-admitted 18-year-old me struggled with this exact confidence dilemma. Having to integrate myself into a college culture filled with people who looked so well put together was very intimidating. Sitting in the back row of the University Lecture Hall away from all the students with color-coded notes became my new normal. This, of course, also plays into the first-generation college student plague of imposter syndrome — simply feeling out of place because you weren’t supposed to make it this far. These feelings can have a very negative effect on college students, especially when trying to make friends.
When it feels like everyone around you is constantly putting their best foot forward, it can feel like you’re not doing enough. Tired of feeling like a constant underachiever, I decided to push myself into becoming a more outgoing student. I was once in a Career Center workshop that centered around preparing for job interviews. During the workshop, we were strongly advised to try our best to come off as a confident candidate, as someone who is witty and charismatic while simultaneously being effortless. I can only speak for myself, but being effortlessly perfect isn’t something that comes naturally — unless you have an extreme superiority complex, or maybe you were just born a white man. In which case, every crowded room you enter probably feels like the perfect opportunity to practice your stand-up comedy routine.
Regardless, the pressure to come off as a confident individual is always going to be present in adulthood. The big secret to becoming a more confident person is actually pretty simple — just fake it. College is the perfect time to live by the mantra of “fake it until you make it.” It’s safe to say that the majority of the people around you right now are faking it to some extent. The beautiful thing about false confidence is that no one is going to call you out for it, because they probably can’t tell the difference from the real thing.
Feeling confident in yourself is all about putting yourself in the correct mindset: wearing that outfit that makes you feel good, doing your makeup or having a killer skincare routine. These are all simple ways to amplify your self-confidence, which in turn will ultimately make you a more confident person. So don’t be afraid to fake it and embrace the ambiguity head on.