Low self-confidence is something that everyone experiences at one point in their life. For me, and many others, the lowest self-confidence I’ve ever felt was during the first semester of my freshman year of college. In fact, only 36% of college students feel confident in their success for the future which does not just include career success but also personal growth.

I had just graduated at the top of my high school class that past summer and felt on top of the world. Before I knew it, my life was flipped upside down. While going through my first breakup, I also had to adjust to a completely new way of life. I was living on my own for the first time, meeting all kinds of new people, learning to balance multiple hard classes, friendships, and extracurriculars on my own.

In addition, conflicts between roommates or friends can be a common issue during this time. It’s a lot for anyone to handle, especially an 18-year-old girl who had always been very comfortable before college. I know many of my peers experienced very similar situations. At my lowest point, I felt anxious, alone, and uncertain of the future. I didn’t know what would happen to my future dreams of getting a Ph.D. or EdS. To people who were wondering what is an Eds degree, my pressure seemed nothing, and this kind of made me more anxious. It even got to the point where I felt like college just wasn’t for me and I wanted to transfer or move home. I knew I had to start making significant changes or else my future would be greatly impacted.

During this time of so much change, the one thing I really needed the most was a strong sense of self-confidence, as this is what makes us resilient!

Here are a few things that helped me personally boost my self-confidence and recover from a difficult first semester, and a few things I wish I had known to do during that time.

  1. Start a workout routine- move your body!
    I started going to the rec center on campus a few days a week, and I always felt much stronger and more confident after making the conscious decision to move my body and take care of myself that day. Even if it was just jogging on an elliptical for 30 mins, the endorphins released always improved my mood. Plus, this helps beat the freshman 15!
  2. Find your people, join different groups
    I joined a women’s workout group called Chaarg my freshman year and this is where I met some of my best friends, as well as my future roommates! Joining a women’s school of health and fitness can really help you to achieve the mind and body that you want, and it’s especially useful if you find it intimidating to visit your uni gym. Additionally, look into clubs for people in your department to also benefit your academic career, but don’t be afraid to join a club simply because it interests you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to seek help and talk to someone
    As I had many roommates problems my freshman year, I chose to speak to a counselor on campus through the student services center. This service was free to me as a student and allowed me to talk about my feelings and receive advice from a trusted, understanding adult. I recommend checking to see if your school has this option, it is completely anonymous as well!
  4. Take a break from social media
    This is something I wish I did more of, and something I am still working on. When we are constantly looking at social media, we are also constantly comparing ourselves and our lives to those of others. Social media is not a true reflection of what people are experiencing, instead it is simply what they want you to see about their lives. So if you see your friends from high school having a blast at college while you’re struggling to make friends, take a break from the screen and put more energy into developing your own life! Surely they are having their own difficulties as well.
  5. Don’t let grades determine your worth and find a major you enjoy
    As my grades began to slip due to all the stress and lack of self-confidence I was experiencing, I started to feel like a disappointment to myself and my family after I was always a 4.0 student in high school. During this time, I should have been more forgiving of myself and instead of feeling bad, put that energy into studying. I also quickly realized that part of the reason for my poor academic performance was that I was unhappy with the major I was studying, and chose it simply because I thought I had to go into the medical field to be successful. Once I changed my major to something I knew I would enjoy, and would have good opportunities in (marketing and communications) I started to receive the grades I was used to. I felt much more motivated and excited for the future!
  6. Pick up hobbies
    I began rock climbing one day a week at the climbing center on campus. My roommates and I also signed up to play intramural badminton which was tons of fun to try and a great way to meet people. Instead of hiding in my dorm like I had at the beginning of the year, I had made a commitment to play a game once a week and this forced me to interact and socialize with people, which in turn boosted my confidence greatly.

The one thing that helped me the most was to dive outside of my comfort zone and try new things. In a time when your confidence is low, it helps to make changes that benefit your life even if it feels uncomfortable in the moment. Whether it’s picking up a new workout routine, joining a club on campus that interests you, or speaking to a counselor, just remember that this weird period of transition and adjustment won’t last forever. Although life might not get any easier, soon you will be equipped with the tools to boost your self-confidence and handle anything that comes your way. So take a deep breath and make the most of this short time as a young college student!

Written by Self Love Beauty intern, Sara Zennedjian