A lot of the advice we're given about building our confidence comes from a place of wanting to make our egos feel better, or at least comparatively "good," as opposed to what genuine confidence is made of: believing in ourselves. That phrase is nauseatingly cliché, but for good reason: your beliefs construct your life. If you don't think that's true, you probably also don't know why a lot of your life has unfolded the way it has (but that's a topic for another day).
The point is that confirmation bias will have you seeking out what you already believe. If what you believe is that you don't deserve the life you want, you'll have that experience. If what you believe is that confidence is just a matter of being as good as you are better than someone else, you'll perpetually be at war with other people, and yourself.
Real confidence comes from believing in who you are. It comes from having goals and dreams that are beyond just "looking good," or doing things because they appear a certain way. It comes from understanding that love is just happiness shared, and that to love yourself you must give yourself happiness, and to love other people, you must share it with them too. People don't create each other's happiness, they just share their own.
What it comes down to is this: to receive happiness from yourself, you must belief that you can do [whatever it is facilitates it for you]. To believe you can do [that thing], you must prove to yourself that you can. This, and all the other things nobody ever teaches us about what real confidence is made of:
Do The Thing You're Afraid Of Doing — It's What You Want Anyway
We're not afraid of things we don't want. We are indifferent about things we don't want. We are afraid of things we genuinely do want and fear that we won't be able to achieve them or deserve them or be able to handle them after-the-fact. For example: you're afraid of losing your job. You think that must be because you love your job and don't want to lose it, but it's usually because you don't like your job and want to leave. (It seems like some reverse-psychology craziness, but it will really help you if you evaluate your deepest fears in light of it.) The more you do what you're afraid of doing, the less the fear controls you, and the more it's transformed into pure knowing that you're able.
Imagine The Best Version Of Yourself Possible — That's Who You Truly Are; The Work Is In Letting Go Of All The Disbelief
People like to say that life is about creating yourself, not finding yourself, but it's really about unraveling all the ideas and fears you have to reveal who you are at your core. If you create anything, it's the mental and emotional strength to be vulnerably yourself. You don't really "create" who you are, you just create circumstances in which you can fully actualize that person. Experience most often proves this true: traces of who we become are always present in who we were.
Choose To Do Things You Are Proud Of; Confidence Is Something You Earn
Mindy Kaling's most recent guide to confidence outlined this beautifully: people tend to operate under the assumption that confidence is something you're born with or you're not; or worse, that it's something pretty and outwardly successful people naturally have. At best, both of these are untrue; at worst, they're destructive beliefs. No matter who you are or what stage of life you're in, confidence is something you earn, because it's something you build. You can't lament not having it and then not do anything about it and expect it to just appear one day when you look better or make yourself consumable to others in some other way.
Images: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Giphy(3)