Learning Self Confidence As a Post Graduate

Let’s talk about post grad confidence.

It’s been 8 months since I graduated college. Imposter syndrome and anxiety have been really hard on me lately. I’m having an existential crisis every week, and have no idea why.

It can’t be my job. I have a great gig. I dodged the ‘job-hunting rat race’ before graduation hit and got employed as a software engineer at a well-paying company with awesome nerd culture.

By societal standards, I should be leaping out of bed in the morning — happy and confident — but I’m not. I’m anxious, lonely, craving social acceptance, and questioning my own decisions. Worthlessness and confusion nag at me if I don’t keep busy.

I know that feeling lonely or disconnected is normal. I just got ripped away from a psuedo-life of convenience and close friendship. Everything — school, clubs, hangout spots, the boyfriend’s dorm, my tubs of ramen and that old microwave — were away.

It’s normal to feel distant and helpless in the wake of that massive change, especially since I had friends that moved away after graduation. They don’t teach you adaptation in college.

A lack of confidence makes sense.

If a jarring shift in routine was the problem, my confidence should have returned after getting settled into adulthood but I’m still crawling across the shaking high-wire of my life.

So what happened to my confidence?

When academics were removed from the picture, I floundered because the base of my confidence was gone. My positive self-image was dependent on how well I performed.

Now, there are no more academic challenges to slaughter. No more textbooks to pour over. No more exams to stress over and then feel proud for struggling my way through.

This can happen to anyone whose self-confidence is based on something temporary (i.e., work, productivity, body image). Everything in life will come and go except us.

It’s pointless to base your confidence on something changeable just to go through another phase of confidence building when your life inevitably changes again.

Pour your life into preparing for your dream job and then get crushed when you don’t get employed? Fall co-dependently in love and then get emotionally destroyed when your partner leaves?

It’s a recipe for disappointment.

Placing confidence in a personal goal, peer approval, or relationships make people so dogged to get that source of confidence — they’re lost without it — that they become desperate.

We’re in 2019 people, and boys in college still go through frat hazing to earn social approval. Young people still suffer through abusive relationships because they view themselves as worthless without one.

How do we gain that confidence back? Here’s my first point.

Self confidence comes from knowing your intrinsic worth and knowing you deserve love and happiness. Period.

I was raised protestant Christian with a spice of forced evangelism on the side, so I grew up believing: you don’t deserve shit. God you deserving of love with his sacrifice, so therefore, ‘do unto others what God did for you’ because he created the self worth you never had.

Respectfully, I want to say that’s bullshit.

My religion taught me that I was undeserving of love and acceptance. That ‘truth’ gave me a negative self image, which was then reinforced by the 90s magazines, Instagram models, and a society telling all women they would with just a little touch-up to hide the worst parts.

You know what makes people shine? Confidence in their own worth, beauty, ability, and uniqueness. I’m convinced is the long-lasting solution to the post graduate struggle.

So how do we know our self worth?

In order for self confidence to take root, you must view your intrinsic worth as an immutable truth.

In order for self confidence to take root, you must view your intrinsic worth as an immutable truth.

Basically, you must see your worth as an unchangeable fact, rather than allowing it to be controlled by your emotions or circumstances. Emotion should be felt but not worshiped.

Sharon Shalzberg said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Self confidence won’t make the roller-coaster of adult life slow down. What it will do is slow down.

Instead of every wrong move being , you can start to become an emotionally stable person who learns from their failures instead of being crushed by them.

You will also be in a position to become a supportive, empowering force who can lift others up. If you know your own value, you can teach others theirs. This brings me to my next point.

One of the hardest parts of leaving college is losing people. I lost so many friends after graduation—roommates, classmates, dance and climbing friends, people who had my back — folks move on.

As if that isn’t enough, college never actually teaches you how to maintain friends in the real world.

Here’s the good news. Working on self confidence ( aka ‘valuing your worth over circumstance) will not only help you remain flexible despite post grad ups and downs, but will also help you form new relationships to replace the ones you lost.

Basic psychology, and the United States’s heavily, extrovert biased culture (read Quiet by Susan Cain), says self confidence attracts others and is the basis of forming healthy relationships.

Discover your own value and gain self confidence through that process, and new relationships will find

If you find healthy new relationships, they will give back to you 10 fold and boost your confidence even more. Good relationships are how people blossom into their most confident selves.

So go find some new friends. Now, for my third point.

Post grad life is hard. It’s a mind fuck of new experiences, decisions, and emotions. It can be a struggle to decouple your worth from the frustrations bombarding you on a daily basis.

I love being an adult.

Some days though, I just want to curl up in bed and cry.

As a female post grad in computer science, I have experienced unfair scrutiny and sexism in the field. Admittedly, it’s tough for me not to revert back to old habits and base my confidence on work success, productivity, or impressing my coworkers.

Like “If I can just ace this software presentation, then I’ll be happy with myself.” This mindset is toxic because my worth now has conditions attached to it.

Self confidence takes practice, practice, practice. Start with the little things. Tell yourself “I deserve love and happiness” to your evil alter ego in the bathroom mirror while brushing your teeth.

Be flexible and understanding with yourself when you make mistakes. I love beating myself over the head with a halo 4 hammer when I explain a network protocol wrong or don’t know the answer.

In those moments, tell yourself “It’s okay to make mistakes. I deserve this opportunity and nothing will change that.”

“It’s okay to make mistakes. I deserve this opportunity and nothing will change that.”

Make those mental responses automatic. Imagine that feeling of relief when your practice begins paying off. The nail-biting worry and stress over making decisions as a post grad will ease.

Things controlling your confidence — success at work, social media likes, your partner’s approval, good sex — will lessen their grip on you. You can pursue your passions with full knowledge that whatever the future holds, it doesn’t matter because you are worth it.

Who knows.

You might even not feel like a post grad anymore.

Software Engineer | Musician | Dog Rescue Work | Bisexual poet and creative dark romanticist who writes about mental health, sexuality, & love.