No Self-Confidence and Other Issues?

By Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D.

I would like to better understand what exactly I’m going through, which is why I’m here now.  I have no self-confidence, I tend to think negatively about myself, and I tend to avoid social situations with people I don’t know very well.  Sometimes I have difficulty speaking, especially in public.  I tend to be irritable and have trouble focusing on certain things.  My main issue though is confidence, and it’s confidence that I don’t have that I feel like is restricting me from doing things, like meeting new people.  So my simple questions is: What do you think is the problem here?  Sorry to sound so vague, I’m just someone who has a problem, but doesn’t know what exactly the problem is.

A: Hello and thank you for your question:

Your question doesn’t seem terribly vague. It sounds like you are in pain and tired of living this way.  A couple of things come to mind when someone your age talks about confidence issues.  First, young adulthood is an awfully difficult time for anyone, no matter how they grew up.  Confidence is one of the most common problems, and if your peers are being completely honest, it is likely that 90% would say that they have a problem with this.

When we talk about young adulthood, we take into consideration all of the pressures you are facing. You are “supposed” to know who you are, what you are “supposed” to be doing and who you are “supposed” to be with. Whew! That’s tough, even in the best of circumstances.

The fact is, this is the time when you are working through these things. Consider that colleges don’t even expect you to know what your major is until at least your second year. That’s because they know that you may not have the information to choose just yet. 

You know those guys who seem confident, secure?  While some may actually be that way, most are not. Most are just as upset as you are.  Believe me, a lot of the patients I see who are your age are going through a life adjustment crisis. That is to say, you are no longer a kid, but haven’t quite got the tools to be an independent adult just yet. That’s OK, since it will come. Just give it some time.

The other thing that comes to mind is that you may be shy. Shyness and lack of confidence can come together, but not necessarily so. We can lack self confidence but not be really shy; we may just be avoiding others because we are nervous about them discovering that we aren’t confident.

Here’s an example: You can look at a litter of puppies and you may see that some are aggressive, some cuddly and loving, and some are shy. They were just born that way. The good news is that you aren’t a puppy and therefore, no matter what your underlying issue may be, there is help.

I’m sure that your college has a counseling center. By law, they must keep what you tell them private. That’s good news. What is also good news is that they will be familiar with what is going on for you and can help you. It may only take a few sessions and you will be on your way. I wish you the best of luck in working through this issue.

I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Walcutt, D. (2009). No Self-Confidence and Other Issues?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/01/no-self-confidence-and-other-issues/