By Corinne Farago
My first invaluable lesson in romantic self-confidence came from a long-standing infatuation with a 5th grader named Paul.
From grades 2-5, I prayed Paul would be in my homeroom class, and maybe, just maybe, he’d notice me. I’d coyly walk by him in the playground, stealing glances of him from across the monkey bars. I’d stand near him in gym class and, of course, I wrote about him in my diary.
I did what every little girl was taught to do when you like a boy, which was nothing. I passively waited 4 years, for a boy to notice me.
Until, one day I made the decision to take decisive action. I decided to break the unspoken rule of girl/boy etiquette, and called him at home in the evening. With a pounding heart and a shaky voice, I asked him point blank, with no preamble, if he liked me. It was the most honest, obvious question I could think of.
“Yes, I like you” Paul said. That was all I needed to hear. “Thanks” I said, “I like you too.” And then hung up the phone, without saying goodbye.
It felt like a bold and dangerous move. I did it! I went to bed that night with a new sense of confidence, swooning in the confirmation that Paul liked me, and now he knew that I like him. I felt powerful and proud of myself for overcoming my shyness. It was a triumphant, albeit, short-lived celebration.
The next day at school, I was outed by Paul in front of the whole class during ‘Show and Tell’.
Paul proudly stood up with something to tell. “Last night Corinne called me at home and asked me if I liked her. I said no.”
Not only did Paul publicly betray my vulnerable heart, but he lied about his answer to my question.
From a 5th grader’s perspective, the universe came crashing down around me.
My head flushed with blood, and I stared at the floor trying to avoid the eye contact of snickering classmates.
I got up from my desk and ran home, sobbing to my mother that I would never return to school ever again.
Within 12 hours I’d experienced my greatest high of romantic self-confidence, as well as my lowest low of public shame.
I did go back to school the next day, and no one mentioned it. I tore out all references of Paul from my diary, and told myself that boys were never to be trusted with vulnerable confessions.
I got on with my life, and what was to become, a long trail of romantic triumphs and defeats, all in the name of love.
Thank you Paul, wherever you are. You broke my 11 –year-old heart, but you helped teach me 6 lessons about romantic self-confidence that I’ll never forget.
1 – Stepping out of my comfort zone to ask for what I want, built my confidence and self-esteem.
If we don’t advocate for what we want, why would we expect anyone to know what we want? We bring our self-esteem with us, wherever we go. If you struggle feeling deserving of pleasure, or feeling worthy of attention, you need to check your inner dialogue with yourself. What messages are you telling yourself that are holding you back from asking for what you want, in relationships and in life?
2 – The excitement of putting myself out there was worth the risk of failure.
Not every bold act is going to end the way you hope it might. But, the excitement of ‘going for it’, is often the part of the experience that’ll put a smile on your face every time you think about it. Stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself vulnerably on the line, empowers every act you take, going forward. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
3 – Shame is more of an inside punishment, than it is an outside judgment.
Shame is our way of punishing ourselves. If we allow others to shame us, we’re accepting their verdict of our unworthiness. Our worth comes from within, not from without. Banish shame, learn from any regrets, and make choices based on your own healthy self-respect and self-care. (Note: Other people care less about your shameful acts than you think they do.)
4 – Girls don’t have to wait for boys to initiate.
Even though girls are often socialized to wait for initiation, it’s important for every women to feel what it’s like to take charge and connect to their own directive power in the bedroom. Confidence is bold and self-assured. It’s able to both lead and follow. Romantic confidence is strengthened by owning your desires, being proud of your sexuality, and enjoying your freedom of romantic/sexual expression.
5 – You can’t force someone to like you.
As we grow in our romantic self-confidence, we open ourselves up to rejection and disappointment, but that doesn’t hold us back from loving. Rather than being the victim of someone else’s choices, exercise resilience in the face of disappointment. Speak your truth, no matter what, forgive someone who can’t meet your needs, and keep your heart-centered friends close by for support.
6 – True romantic self-confidence is always vulnerable.
We can’t boldly build our romantic confidence, without being vulnerable at the same time. A romantic/sexually confident person knows that intimacy is based on opening up and being vulnerable with another human being. Intimacy requires us to let feelings in, and to let the armor down, even when it’s risky.
As Brene Brown says,
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
Confidence is more than a thought. It’s a feeling.
When I think about the story of Paul, the thing I remember most, isn’t the betrayal or embarrassment, it’s the feeling I had when I hung up the phone, after hearing him say “I like you.”
My 11 year-old self, felt enlivened and excited with this new-found sense of confidence. That feeling was worth whatever the outcome would bring. If I could do that, I thought to myself, I could do anything.
Think about a time when you stepped into your own romantic/sexual confidence and made something happen. Recall everything about it. What you did, thought and said. Walk through it in your mind and remember what it was like to embody confidence.
Remember that feeling. Draw on that embodied state of confidence the next time you take a leap, whether it’s initiating passionate love, speaking your honest truth, asking for what you want, or like me, many years ago, telling a boy you like him. 😊
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