Ask my best friends from home and they’ll tell you I have enough self-confidence for three people, a mouth that rivals a truck driver, and a sense of humor so sarcastic you might actually think I mean what I say. Ask any of my friends from college about me and they’ll tell you I’m one of the loudest people they know, that I’m a far cry from shy, and probably, that I’m a lunatic. If you ask me, though, I’ll tell you that although most of what they say is true, one thing isn’t, the confidence that I exude isn’t really all that genuine.

Most of my life I’ve been fairly outgoing, joining sports I’d never done before, singing in school plays throughout middle school, getting up in front of an audience and thriving off the attention. People often commented on my outstanding self-confidence and applauded me, telling me they would never be able to do something like that. I was always able to do things without worrying about what other people thought and I took pride in that. Over time that self-confidence started to deteriorate and was replaced with self-doubt, which grew into social anxiety, which I now struggle with on a daily basis. The girl who could once sing a solo, or be interviewed for the news with no problem, now worries about speaking when attendance is taken in a class. Participation grades don’t exist and oral presentations are a definite no for me.

I live for the saying, “Fake it till you make it,” because since sophomore year of high school I’ve been pretending I have more confidence than Kanye. I always present myself in a way that makes everyone around me think that I don’t care about anyone's opinions of me. I try to find it in me, somewhere, to love myself as much as I pretend I do. I’m insecure and socially awkward. When I meet new people, I spend more time worrying about what the right thing to say is than actually talking to them. Even around people I consider to be good friends, I find myself overthinking the conversation when I’m alone with them. When it comes to me talking to guys, I usually find myself mumbling about my dog until the poor sucker finds an excuse to leave. I wish more than anything I could have a casual conversation with someone easy breezy. Even after talking to someone, I find myself dwelling on the conversation later and worrying about what they thought of me.

I like to think that I'm becoming more confident with time. When I'm surrounded by people who I know won't judge me for the stupid things I say, I'm relieved of a somewhat crushing pressure. I've spent the last year working on building up confidence and meeting new people who make me feel like it's okay to be myself, and be a little awkward sometimes. I still present myself in a carelessly confident way, but maybe it's starting be real?