Living in a world that is wrought with the idea that your behavior has to be approved by others innately creates issues with self-esteem, confidence, and self-efficacy. Just thinking about the day to day staples of our lives such as likes on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, politician’s approval ratings, and even satisfaction surveys after a phone call with your local TV provider is enough to have you second guessing every move you make. This article from the Association for Psychological Science discusses the idea of social acceptance and rejection even further, which helps contextualize how society is constructed around these concepts. I believe that when we focus our lives around what others want us to be doing, we don’t even allow ourselves the opportunity to figure out what we’re capable of doing.

As a college student and a human being, I often let what others thought about me define what I was able to do and as a result this depleted my self-efficacy and confidence. I’d like to delve deeper into the concepts of self-efficacy and confidence as we explore the thoughts and insights of the students of Region VI and their student leader, Rachel Horras.

Rachel is the graduate assistant of facility operations at Washington State University. When I asked her at the start of our leadership journey what quote she lives by she responded with one by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The more time I have spent with Rachel, the more I have come to know how she has woven this quote into the threads of her work and her life as a whole. I had the opportunity to work and live with Rachel through the UCLA internship program. Through that experience, I learned quite a bit about her. I learned that she is always prepared, probably due to the fact that she keeps a multitool in her purse, but also because she feels that her work is a direct reflection of herself. Rachel is fiercely loyal to her friends and family, has incredible vision for what excellence and professionalism look like, and constantly challenges herself to be vulnerable despite the fact that she “hates feelings.” Rachel tends to be the comedic relief on our team, but whenever we come at an impasse, she has the ability to look at it from a 10,000 feet view to provide us with a strategic solution with the big picture in mind.

Her quote made me think of how much emphasis society puts on approval and how little it puts on developing one’s own sense of self. To dive deeper, I asked two students in Region VI about self-confidence and self-efficacy respectively.

Emma Juneau is the graduate assistant of competitive sports at Utah State University. She shares more about her efforts to build her self-confidence, saying, “The journey of building my self-confidence can be traced back to a lot of little things. One of the things I have done is I try to see the good in others and compliment them. I have found that when I am seeking out the good in other people, I subconsciously seek out the good in myself. My overall thoughts are more positive when I do this, and I also tend to not compare myself to others which I have found can be detrimental to my confidence. Another way I have built my self-confidence (still a work in progress) is trying to always notice and express gratitude for the blessings in my life. Even when I have a really, really bad days I try to remember that ‘every day might not be good, but there is good in every day.’ That quote is SO true…there is always something to be grateful for, even if it is something small!”

Self-confidence is defined as a broad term for an individual’s perceived strength of belief in their abilities. Self-efficacy refers to a person’s perceived ability to accomplish a specific task.

Casey Muth, an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon, says when he thinks about self-efficacy he thinks about, “Believing in yourself and having confidence in yourself. That can be related to doing your job or tasks at work, where you are confident in your decisions and don’t second guess yourself. It’s also important if an emergency arises, to be able to trust yourself that you have the knowledge and training to handle certain situations. Last, it’s important to believe in yourself so you’re not hesitant to take on new challenges so you can continue to grow and improve in whatever you do.”

I’d like to challenge each of you to take time to thank yourself. When I first practiced yoga, I thought it was bizarre that we thanked our bodies for what they allowed us to do. With the ideas of self-confidence and self-efficacy in mind though, I see the value in making time to thank ourselves, in body and in spirit, for what we are capable of doing. Sometimes, we spend so much time worrying about filling everyone else’s cup that we don’t realize how empty our own cup is. Intentionally building your self-confidence and self-efficacy is a way to fill up your own cup so that you can keep pouring into others. The end of the semester is in sight, but we can only get there if we remember to take care of ourselves.

“The most important progress and success can’t be seen. If you can validate yourself internally, then external validation becomes a byproduct” – Brittany Burgunder

Lastly, I’d like to extend my heartfelt sorrow for those who are mourning or are living in fear after the anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. My thoughts are with you and your NIRSA family is here for you. I truly believe that “Hate has no home here” and it will take many people from different faith backgrounds to come #TogetherAgainstAntiSemitism.

You stay classy, NIRSA family.

Graduate Assistant – Facility Operations at University of Mississippi | NIRSA Profile

Caroline Ciell, NIRSA Student Leader, is currently Graduate Assistant – Facility Operations at the University of Mississippi.