I can’t speak to new people without my face going hot. Is there a secret to being more confident?

There sure is, says our elder. Fake it till you make it.

Dear EWC

Hello, I am 16 and I want to make more relationships with people. I have been a very hesitant person when it comes to people for most of my life. When there is a group conversation I usually never talk at all even if there is something I want to say (mostly because I feel like I’ll seem stupid or irrelevant). Also, I know that inwardly I’m not a shy person. With my sisters, I am the most talkative and confident person ever and I really want to just let loose and talk to other people and make them laugh and feel better. However, when I have the opportunity to do so my words come out seriously wrong and my face gets hot. (Let’s not even talk about public speaking). I really want to be more confident this school year but I have been acting this way for so long I believe these things will happen: 1. I am going to get all shy and blushy like usual and will just give up and try again when I’m a senior. 2. I will actually try being confident but that will catch people by surprise since I usually never am which will discourage me. Is there some kind of trick people use in order to be confident that isn’t on the internet? Even though I know I’m overthinking things, knowing hasn’t really done anything.

Peace-of-Mind replies

Hello there! I wonder how many young (and older) people can relate to your letter? What you have described is actually way more common than you probably realize. So — what to do?
I like your idea #2. Have you ever heard the expression, “Fake it till you make it?” Basically, it means pretend on the outside that all is good (fake it) even if you are dying on the inside. After a while, all that faking actually starts to sink in and become the real you (you have made it). So for you, since you know you aren’t actually shy and you do have things to say, you just have to go for it. If people look at you in surprise or make a comment, just flippantly say, “Surprised you, didn’t I?” or something equally light and maybe mildly funny. Then ask someone a follow-up question regarding your conversation. That is a good strategy because it immediately takes the attention off you as they start to answer the question. This gives you time to regroup and mentally prepare for your next comment, etc.
Also, do you have a friend you trust that you can talk to this about? If so, that person could be really helpful in these situations. He/she could be prepped ahead of time to ask you questions in the group or give lead-ins like, “Oh yeah, so-and-so went there. What did you think?” You have to be on your toes because you never know where the conversation is going but at least this gives a direct opportunity to participate.
And try not to worry about what other people are thinking. The reality is that most of us are so focused on ourselves and what we want to say, that we are often not good listeners. So my guess is that much of the time, they aren’t paying any attention to what you don’t say — or even say. Watch your friends next time. Most of the time people will just piggyback on the comment before theirs. You can do that and someone will immediate say something after you.
I hope this is helpful. The first time you try a new strategy is always the hardest but I promise — it does get easier! I’ll be thinking of you!

Letter #: 406650
Category: Self-Improvement

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