A person with self-belief can aspire to be whoever they want to be, take their own path, strive confidently with aspirations, without getting bogged down in having to be who society tells them they are, what society tells them they should be, what society tells them they WILL be. A person with self-belief can thrive through their potential because they believe they are worthy.
But one of the most fragile things in life is a person's self-belief - by this I mean self-worth, self respect and self pride and by the same account I feel it is one of the most important tools in life.
If I take the young people I have worked with over the years, the one common factor is lack of confidence. To give a young person a belief in who they are means they can see beyond their immediate environment and make something that wasn't even a possibility a reality. It is not the reality that shapes us but the way we perceive the world that shapes reality.
I used to automatically think everybody else was better than me or more deserving. When I first started running as a teenager I would stand at the start line for a race and before I'd even approached the line to take my marks I would think that all my competitors were almost of another ilk, a far superior one, or maybe that I was from another ilk, a far inferior one. It was the same walking into a room, sat in a classroom, walking down the street... in pretty much every situation that involved other people I was sure they must be better than me. My confidence when I was younger, as you are starting to get the picture, was very low. The perception of myself was shaping everything I did.
I think sometimes in this country, in the UK, confidence is misconstrued. Recently a comment was made to me when discussing the work I do with youths about young people being so full of themselves. I immediately challenged this, at first annoyed and then saddened. The bullish, "full of themself" youths referred to tend to be the most insecure with very little self-worth, lack of understanding and belief in who they are. Scared and always having to battle.
I should know.
I used to think that I was good for nothing. I couldn't see how I could have options, they were for other people, remember I was inferior, or so I was convinced. My self-esteem was too busy being stepped on, on the bottom of my shoe with every step I took to convince me other wise. The thought of aspiring to be where I am now and where I want to go didn't even enter my head. How could I aspire if I didn't believe in myself?
I couldn't but I did. I did because I found something or something found me that started to give me confidence, just a little bit at first but that was all I needed for it grow. The more it grew the more I achieved, the more my mind opened and the more it grew. I started to ever so slightly believe that I could have dreams and not only have them but maybe even possibly strive toward them.
The something I found was running but it can be anything from creative to entrepreneurial.
The only limit is the limit we put on ourselves.
It starts at home doing something to make you feel that sense of achievement, of pride, of self-worth - achieving your own personal best. Later, the impact that you can then have on others because you feel inspired, positive and good about yourself is endless. The bottom is the top, it's the most important bit, the start, the foundation, the you. It all starts with the individual, which is why I want all of us to strive to achieve our own personal best, no matter what it may be. My new personal best will take me back to running, taking on a challenge that hasn't been done before in order to raise funds for Woman's Aid. It's all part of a new national campaign called Britain's Personal Best - what's yours?
Sign up to take part in Britain's Personal Best, 4 - 6 October 2013 at www.whatsyours.org.