Take a moment and imagine yourself at a bar, at an office meeting, at a soccer game — any place where a group of people is interacting. Now imagine two people who seem more or less exactly the same. Their job, their clothes, even their facial features are the same. Imagine them as twins if you like. There is, however, one key difference: one is the embodiment of confidence and one lacks it altogether.
Which of these two would you like to spend time with? The answer should be obvious. You, too, can be this person and should aspire to be this person. Of course you want people to look at you and think, “Yeah, that’s the guy I want to hang out with!” But how do we get there? We can’t suddenly become confident any more than we can buy confidence at a store. (Alcohol doesn’t count.)
Confidence is a decision, and that decision starts with acting confident. Do what confident people do. Act like they act. In due time, you will become that person and you will wonder why you were ever shy to begin with. In English, we say “fake it ’til you make it.”
When I first arrived in Japan as an English teacher, I had no real teaching experience. Sure, I had tutored groups of students in math and occasionally helped people write essays, but I had no actual training as a teacher. I believed in myself and I believed in my English skills, but when I first stood in front of my first class I had a mental panic attack. “They’re going to see through you! They’re going to know you don’t belong here!” I was plagued with doubt and started to sweat, so I had to make a decision. I could quit, pack up my bags, and head back home, or I face my students like a teacher and say, “Ok class, today we’re going to study such-and-such so turn to page such-and-such and let’s get started!” After a week or two, though the students had already accepted me as their teacher, I finally accepted myself. From then on everything was smooth sailing.