I have often wondered why there seems to be a difference in how confident men and women are in themselves. In a New York Times article by Suzanne Daley a survey was done in 1991, with 3,000 children, and at the age of nine both girls and boys felt confident, assertive, and pleased with themselves. Later when the same girls were in high school, less than a third of them still felt confident. Why do girls lose that self-esteem? Women and young girls face a lot of societal pressure. They must have the perfect body, the perfect face, and the perfect personality. For a long time America’s ideal woman was someone who was thin with long hair, and blue eyes. It was like the pressure was on to become the next human Barbie, and it was a goal that was unfair. When a goal is unreachable we tend to feel like a disappointment.
Growing up I didn’t have much self-esteem. For three years I swam on my high school swim team and after graduating I joined martial arts. The feeling of achieving something is remarkable, in swimming I would always try to beat my personal record and when I did it was one goal reached. Then in martial arts it was something I didn’t know anything about which made it more interesting. I remember having to remember the word of the belt (for white belt), each belt had a phrase that was memorized, and coincidently the word of the belt was “Positive Self- Esteem” right off the bat I had to work with who I am. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you can’t move to self-actualization without your self-esteem, but in this case self- esteem was the first thing I needed to continue on.
Fast forward to today I know that my self-confidence has grown tremendously and I am confident with who I am as a person. Sports have helped me understand who I am and they have also made be become at peace with who I am.
Involvement in sports might be one way to improve the confidence of young women. In his article Sports: Building Confidence: Part I he has four sections: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk, Balance the Scales, and Thought-stopping. In the articles Dr. Jim Taylor emphasizes that positive thoughts will be the goal to achieving confidence. In sports you must think of the positive, you’re not going to go into a game thinking you are bound to lose, if so it will happen. While in a sport with other people it also helps because your teammates are your support system and they help cheer you on so you do think positively.
Sometimes to have that complete confidence you have to find that right activity. For some it is running, hiking, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, karate, or tennis. Think about some of the women out there that have found their passion. Serena Williams, American professional tennis player, carries herself with so much passion for the game and you can see that ooze out of her. Natalie Coughlin, an American competitive swimmer, loves to spend more time in the water than on land. Just because these women have given their life for what they do doesn’t mean they have more or less confidence then anyone. Their self-confidence grew, by feeding off the accomplishments they achieved in sports. They had set new personal bests, surviving the setbacks of injuries, and work through particularly difficult skills. Their competition in sports, as in life, was not with someone else, it was with themselves.
Confidence is a skill and it needs to be practice like any other skill, so join a sports club, join a jogging team, or join a dance team. Becoming active will help with confidence building and encourage others to do the same, you never know who’s confidence needs a boost.