Self-Confidence in the University Setting

Going to a foreign college was, in the beginning, very intimidating for me. Before coming to UC, I was nervous about studying and making friends in such a huge public institution. On my several first days at college, I was overwhelmed by how talented the student body here is: having stellar GPAs while holding different executive positions in student organizations, doing part-time research, and being an intern at top companies. I did not expect this to happen, but I started to lose confidence. I was more shy to approach new people because I was afraid I would not be as good as them.

If there was a mathematical function that captured the ‘magnitude’ of my self-confidence over time, it would be in a sinusoidal form. At some moments, such as when I got a good exam score, my self-confidence jumped. At others, such as when I failed a job interview, my self-confidence dropped. It is largely dependent on what I have achieved or failed at and fluctuates based on what I did that day. It is also closely correlated to my satisfaction after a long working day

For a long time, I have been looking for ways to maintain my self-confidence at a more stable level, instead of letting it vary corresponding to my daily emotions. With my time at UC so far, being independent of my parents, and having done many different activities and taken various positions, I start to realize the significance of every decision I make. As I meet different students from various settings (in my class, through my on-campus jobs, via student organizations and clubs, …) I learn how to self-evaluate better. Below are several points I want to share with you so that you can apply a few when you feel under pressure at college:

1. Talk to people: The more I talk to different people, the more I realize that everyone is always interested in at least one aspect of my life. Sometimes I talk about my past vacations, such as my first ever sight of a big kangaroo family on a lawn in Australia; other times my sense of humor cracked someone up. By talking, you force yourself to brainstorm what is special about yourself and what you want to talk about, and by receiving an enthusiastic reaction from your friends, you develop confidence in your self-worth.

2. Focus on personal interests: I am most confident when I do things that I like and I know I am good at. It can be a non-academic hobby, such as a sport, a musical instrument, or volunteer experience. Every weekend I always allow myself some time to play chess, either on and Lichess, or with my friends in the UC Chess Club. I also workout every Friday evening where I can put time aside to focus on my health. Maintaining a hobby is, to me, very important, no matter how busy my semester may get. By doing things that I am truly passionate about, I put a lot more positive energy into it

UC gym in the Campus Recreation Center

3. Track my progress: I have a habit of writing down things I have done in a day. On short time intervals, such as a week or a month, progress is barely visible. However, as I go farther in the past, I start to see how far I have progressed and how much I have learnt. Persistence is key; sometimes progress can only be seen when we view our life on the span of months and years.

An intro paragraph to my diary of my first 7 days in the US. I am sure, that if I read this diary after about 1 year studying in the US, I will realize how much I have grown

4. Acknowledge that everyone is unique: Everyone’s life is completely different from one another. At UC, I have seen many exceptional first-year students that, although they have not taken any course at UC, are able to do research with professors or have extensive leadership roles on campus. Comparing myself to those talented students can only worsen my self-confidence and so instead, I try to connect with them and learn more about their lives. I allow their experiences to teach me lessons that I can apply to my own life and success.

Building a solid self-confidence is a gradual and arduous process; however, overcoming it is crucial for our success in college.

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