Are You Confident? The Answer May Not Be As Simple As You Think

A couple of days ago, I had the most amazing opportunity (understatement of the century) to see Indian politician and bestselling author Shashi Tharoor speak at the University of Edinburgh at the magnificent McEwan hall. As he entered after a lengthy introduction, I noted that he walked in as if he were another student seeing the hall for the first time; his eyes drifted around as if no one were there, in awe of the high ceilings and paintings that decorated the walls. However, what struck me most came next; as Dr Tharoor sat down at the front, a couple of feet behind the podium where another speaker was still reeling on about the achievements of the politician, he fished out his phone and began to take photos; he took no notice of the audience in front of him, nor did he look like he was about to speak about the British Raj in India. It was then the question struck; what did it take to be that confident?

Many of you will probably answer money and fame – both of which Dr Tharoor does have. However, before Shashi Tharoor became viral in 2015 with his speech at the Oxford Union, where he argued that Britain did owe reparations to the countries she colonised (we’ll leave this debate for another article), he was only really known in India as an MP. Coming to Oxford and giving that speech must have taken some guts – that too in the heart of Britain!

People often answer “Yes” or “No” to the question of confidence and self-esteem, yet I feel that actually we’re not answering the question properly and furthermore, we’re not asking the right question. Confident in what? Cooking, singing, acting, driving, playing an instrument – surely, the question is too broad?

I believe that confidence is relative – even self-confidence. We all have confidence in ourselves, just not for everything. Very few people are confident in everything. I myself am very relative when it comes to confidence, and it’s an issue I struggle with even today. I can talk the ears off my own parents and close friends about an issue, or in our small tutorial groups make points about a piece of literature at University – yet, I would never dare to put my hand up in a lecture or go beyond 30 mph in a car (my driving instructor actually told me I was dangerously slow. Dangerously slow!) Yet, for years I had convinced myself I just wasn’t confident in anything and thus, was absolutely useless. I did have self-confidence – in playing the piano or having a debate with my friends; I just hadn’t recognised it in the areas it existed in. Therefore, my whole self-esteem suffered as a result.

Well, how does this help anyone improve their self-confidence? I believe that perspective can change a great deal about how you look at yourself and life, thus I think a shift of perspective is key here. By realising that you do actually have confidence in some areas of your life, you are already changing your answer from “No I’m not confident” to “I am confident in these areas,” depending on how you answer the question. This recognition already makes you someone with more self-esteem than before, and can enable you to make those changes to other aspects where you lack this esteem.

Once you make this change, you can start channelling the confidence you have into the areas you lack it; of course, it’s not as simple as that (pushing the pedal down on the piano is not the same as clutch control.) But you can begin to dissect further; what is it I do when learning the piano that I don’t do when I learn to drive? Do I enter with a more closed mind-set before I even begin? Do I hesitate to ask my instructor questions that I don’t hesitate to ask in my piano lessons? By asking these questions, you can find answers as how to improve your outlook – and thus build your esteem – in those areas. Keep your eyes open for an article on ways you could do this (I’m still figuring it all out myself, don’t worry!)

In summary, don’t tell yourself you have a lack of confidence because it implies you lack it in everything, which is simply not true in most cases. Work out what you do have confidence in and go from there. I realise this is vague, but I believe it’s better than nothing. So many self-help guides and articles give you countless ways to be more confident in an x amount of time, without even acknowledging that everyone has different levels of self-esteem in different areas and different ways to tackle it. A list of ways can be overwhelming to apply all at once; this way, you just get a foundation to build on. Don’t expect immediate results – confidence will take time to build, and it deserves all the time and attention it gets if it means you live a happier, more positive life.



5 tips for fresher’s week from a fresher

I had my fresher’s week almost three weeks ago now and had an absolute blast! Though I definitely have some introverted tendencies, I loved meeting new people – and having some old high school friends while out partying definitely helped! Here are some tips on how to enjoy fresher’s the best way possible:

1. Know your own tolerance of alcohol

Many of us like to get wasted at fresher’s – I certainly did a few times. I knew roughly what my tolerance of alcohol was (not very much) but I thought I was handling everything absolutely fine until I woke up the day after fresher’s with a horrendous cold, which turned out to be a flu (I’m still not 100% now!) My throat was killing me, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and I felt incredibly dilapidated; it was not a good way to start university. My advice is, try to know your own tolerance as best as possible and drink plenty of water afterwards. Also, alcohol isn’t the only way you can have fun, which leads me to my next point…

2. Widen your experiences as much as possible 

As quite an anxious person, I know how stomach churning going to certain events could be – the amount of times I was analysing every possible outcome and regretting going before I even got there was numerous! However, once I arrived it turned out everything was fine! There are people just as nervous (if not even more nervous) than you are. It turns out a simple starting sentence like “there are loads of people here” or “I have no idea what I’m doing” can lead to friendship! There is so much to do on fresher’s week other than partying, go and try something new – film making, writing workshops, escape rooms, taster dance classes etc. Even if you do one thing outside your comfort zone on fresher’s, you’ve done a lot better than most people!

3. Don’t feel like you have to go to everything – or much at all

Okay, okay. I know this sort of contradicts my last point, but hear me out. I said widen your experiences as much as possible, but this might range might vary from person to person, and that’s ok! If the whole process of simply being away from home is overwhelming for you, or if the whole week is proving stressful,  slow down and take time to settle in. I read a brilliant article in The Student (Edinburgh University’s student newspaper) about whether fresher’s was for the “extroverted few”- though I think Edinburgh had a wide range of options, I agreed it was still quite extrovert orientated. If you feel like it is all a bit much for you, start slowly – you have years to make loads of new friends and try different things; fresher’s week is just a starting point.

4. Make use of the free shops and freebies fair 

At Edinburgh we had plenty of free shops and a Fresher’s Expo – both of which I benefitted from (I am literally wearing a jumper I picked up for free right now.) There will be absolutely loads of stuff to pick up, from discounts to free crockery and cutlery you might need, as well as second-hand textbooks. By investing some time at these fairs you could pick up vouchers that could be saving you money for those first vital weeks at university.

5. Get your miscellaneous errands done 

Whether it’s registering with your local GP, completing your University’s matriculation process or meeting with your personal tutor – get as much done as you need to in fresher’s week, particularly the first one. I woke up with a funny cornea on my first day of University and going to the GP and having to wait with a sore eye was not fun. Don’t leave everything last-minute!

6. And finally…enjoy it

As cliché as it sounds, try to enjoy Fresher’s – but as much as YOU can. There is a ridiculous amount of pressure to have loads and loads of fun when in actual fact everyone is stressing out all the time about where to go and who to be with. However, if you just decide to accept you’re not going to enjoy absolutely every moment and that you possibly won’t make it everywhere you want to go, it becomes so much easier. Be present and be in the moment; that advice applies beyond fresher’s week too.



Welcome to my blog everyone!

My name is Vaishnavi and I am an eighteen year old student currently attending the University of Edinburgh studying English Language and Literature. I love to read, write (obviously) and snack endlessly on bourbon biscuits and more recently, dark chocolate digestives.

I have always loved writing stories, but also love writing persuasive pieces and articles and decided to give blogging a go. I can’t promise any regularity quite yet – and this is just a hobby for now – however I plan to give it my all!

On this blog you can expect to see opinionated pieces about current affairs or strong views of mine, general findings and tips on student life and possibly some creative writing.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts as much as I enjoy writing them!