Self-Confidence in College

Photos taken by Leigh Shields

College is a huge milestone in life, where it seems like every aspect of it is changing. For some, it may be the first time away from family and friends. While college is a time to explore yourself, the pressure to make life decisions can become overwhelming. As a result, students can struggle with a positive self-image. To keep a healthy relationship with yourself, it is important to understand your values. There is no straight path to finding confidence but adopting some wellness practices can help you grow your self-esteem. 

Having confidence and keeping it can be hard, so here are some ways to improve it: 

Improve Academic Skills 

As college students, educational progress is one of the main life stressors and can harm self-esteem. It can be difficult to balance life and school, especially if you do not have well developed study skills, organization skills, etc. By understanding how to be the best student you can be, learning will be improved. By honing these skills, you can start strong and become a confident student. 

At UTK, there are seven hand-picked courses offered through LinkedIn Learning. This “self-improvement” tool can help you reach your educational goals and is available to you mobile anytime. The courses include: 

  • Learning Study Skills (1h 36m) 
  • Academic Research Foundations: Quantitative (1h 41m) 
  • Writing with Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer (5h 8m) 
  • Writing with Impact (1h 1m) 
  • Writing Articles (29m) 
  • Improving Your Memory (1h 29m) 
  • Learning Speed Reading (58m)

Attend Health and Wellness Workshops 

At UTK, there are a variety of activities offered to students that focus on mental and physical wellness. It can be a type of therapy that allows one to learn new skills to gain confidence. There is a personal responsibility to nourish ourselves spiritually, and workshops can be a way to do it. 

Student Life at UTK offers “Wellness Wednesdays” that strives to work on the 8 aspects of wellness: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. The the Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW), RecSports, the Student Counseling Center, the Center for Financial Wellness, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Campus MultiFaith Council all work together to offer weekly opportunities to engage students and make them the best they can be. Here are some upcoming events

Participate In Volunteer Work 

Volunteering in your local community has many positive benefits for your health and mind. Helping others not only provides a sense of accomplishment but can also help find a sense of identity; all in all, it can boost your self-confidence. It can also help battle mental illnesses such as depression that would harm your self-esteem. Volunteering will allow you to avoid isolation from people and have the opportunity to build relationships and support systems. 

UTK has a civic engagement platform known as ServeUTK. By signing in on your student account, you can find hundreds of volunteer opportunities each month and can filter them by your interests. You can help with post-game day clean ups, food pantries, local shelters, and more. 

Find a Hobby 

As a student, the cycle of school, work, sleep, and repeat can be tiresome and repetitive. Find something you enjoy or are passionate about outside of everyday life. This can help you recharge and improve self-esteem by being productive and having fun. Anything you enjoy can be a hobby, and there are some that are widely adopted. 

  • Solving puzzles: Puzzles work your mind to find solutions and have a rewarding end when all the pieces are together. 
  • Journal: Journaling can allow you to write down your feelings, so emotions do not get bottled up and implode. You can even write down goals for yourself to keep motivated and be able to accomplish tasks, no matter how small they seem. 
  • Cooking: Preparing meals for yourself is a great way to set aside time for yourself daily and be creative. Not only does this have mental benefits, but it can improve your overall health by cooking simple meals instead of getting fast food. There are many easy meals to choose from that are targeted for students. 
  • Enjoy Nature: Taking time to be outside is a great way to ground yourself and have a temporary disconnect from stressors. UT Gardens are available to appreciate nature and walk around peacefully. This can allow you to connect with yourself and take a breather. 

Practice Self Affirmations

Learning to love yourself will boost your self-confidence. By practicing affirmations, negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones. With affirmations, you set an intention to become your best self. You can repeat them as often as needed; the more you repeat it, the likelier you will start to believe it. Some common affirmations are: “I deserve happiness,” “I value myself as a person,” and “I am at peace with myself.” 

An Important Message from our Student Body President Jordan Brown

“Honestly, I could do a better job at working on my self-esteem. We all could. Being in a leadership position like the one I am, sometimes doesn’t feel the most conducive to my self-esteem and overall confidence. 

However, the best way that I have found to work on my self-esteem is being kinder to myself. Taking a moment to celebrate the little things —whether it’s small accomplishments or having a chance to do something I enjoy—is worth it. 

Sometimes, as students with multiple other responsibilities, we can get so caught up in our schedule that we may not acknowledge all of the amazing things we do on a daily basis. We put alot of pressure on ourselves to have it all together and be perfect. When in actuality, no one is perfect and we all need to give ourselves grace.

Despite having so much responsibility, the friends that I have made in SGA have been a big help in this area. They provide me with a community of support, where I don’t feel like I have to be so hard on myself and pressured to do everything.

 The best advice I could give for raising self-esteem and confidence is to be kind to yourself and create a support system around you that will be there for you even when you do not feel at your best. Even when you’re not able see the positives in you life, they will.”