I used to think the key to finding self-confidence lay in perfecting myself. If I was more this or less that, I would never be sad or feel pain again. But confidence doesn’t emerge in one defining moment. It’s a never-ending journey! Here’s a look at mine:
Step 1: I made friends with my hair.
In my teens I tried to wear my big, luscious curly hair straight. I slept with huge curlers, got up early (with a stiff neck) and stayed up late trying to master my ‘do. Every day I punished my hair with heat and products until one morning I woke up and realized that I was tired and so was my hair. I called my mom (Diana Ross) in tears, and she said, “Honey, just let it do what it does.”
Now it’s curly; sometimes it’s wavy or soft or sweet or tough. But it’s always Tracee.
Step 2: I took a deep breath.
My personality can be loud and silly. That’s helped me get work as a comedic actor and set me apart from the sea of faces in Hollywood. But my exuberance hasn’t always been a plus in the dating department. When I was nervous or liked a man, I used to get louder, more giggly – basically, I’d turn into a 12-year-old.
Finally a good friend of mine lovingly suggested, “The next time you feel like your personality is running the show, take a deep breath and trust that you are enough.”
Soon after that, someone I’d had a crush on for ages approached me at a party. I felt myself about to launch into high-wattage mode, but I took a deep breath instead – just the opening he needed to (finally!) ask for my number.
Step 3: I gave myself a break.
This year I received two NAACP award nominations for my work as lead actress and director on Girlfriends, a show I’d worked on and loved for eight years. The morning of the ceremony I woke up with a terrible flu. I braved it anyway. I put on a simple but elegant dress instead of the dramatic beaded one I’d planned on. Then I won the award for Outstanding Actress. I am so grateful that even with a head that felt the size of a balloon, I was there.
If confidence is not within your reach, grace and humility make lovely substitutes.
Tracee Ellis Ross appeared in the film Labor Pains and teaches self-esteem workshops for young women.
(Material is from the article The Seven Different Kinds of Confidence Every Woman Needs, Glamour Magazine)