In Need of a Confidence Boost
I've never had difficulty with confidence. I’m like a duck in the rain. Mistakes happen, I acknowledge them, I learn and move on. That’s life. I do admit there is one thing that really shakes me and it’s called Rheumatoid Arthritis.
This measly little condition brings out all my demons, physically and mentally, and I become less confident and more doubtful.
Morale is a fickle thing. It comes and goes as easily as the sun rises and sets and I find my entire life affected.
How RA affects self-confidence
Let me start with the physical side. I am not your typical beauty. I have interesting features and I’m proud of them (surprise, surprise). However, RA wreaks havoc on my appearance. I get obvious rashes, bumps, lumps, patches scars and veins. My joints swell asymmetrically and they get visibly red and warm.
I am especially self-conscious about my feet. A couple of years ago my big toes stopped growing. They are brittle, thick and discolored. I wrap my toes and play it off as a climbing injury, but they look bad and people notice.
Constantly worrying about different interactions
Mentally, RA destroys confidence even more. I worry about everything. How do I look? Am I capable? Can everyone tell I’m sick? Do people judge me behind my back? Do they think I’m an idiot when I slur my words or struggle with vocabulary? Do they make fun of me when I can’t open a packet of food? How do I maintain my relationships? How do I talk to people without sounding self-absorbed or seeking pity?
How I boost my self-confidence
My chronic illness drains my confidence faster than it drains my energy but I have to keep up appearances. I can’t rely on my brain to stay positive because once I’m in a negative space I stay there. So I’ve come up with a couple of tricks to keep my spirits high.
Remind myself of what I am good at
First, I do things I’m good at. When I do well, I remind myself I am not just managing but actually talented.
Do things that make me happy
Second, I do things that make me happy. I love nail polish and makeup. I am proud when I find pain-friendly ways of playing with them. I use bright colors because I love them. They make me feel alive and pretty (and hopefully distract from any physical flaws).
Vocalize and negate my worries
Third, I vocalize and write. I say my worries out loud. I let the universe hear them. I then write them down and negate them.
“I can’t stand for a full day of work because my feet are so swollen and painful.” I change it to “I will keep up with full-time work by taking frequent sitting breaks and stretching as often as possible.”
It's no secret RA robs me of my confidence but without that determination, my life would be a disaster. How can I work, how can I socialize and how do I pursue opportunities in life? Confidence is a fickle thing but it’s necessary for me to continue my life with an invisible illness.
How do you stay confident?
Right now, what RA tips would most be helpful for you?