For most women, daily life means juggling competing pressures and demands. We’re expected to maintain our successful careers, keep our families happy and lead impressive social lives — and look amazing while we’re at it.
As a result, many women are plagued by guilt and low self-esteem. We impress the boss, then berate ourselves for neglecting our families. We spend time with the kids while worrying we are neglecting our careers. Throw in the fact that we are all continually bombarded with images of beauty and perfection from the media, and it’s not surprising that the 2017 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found that peer pressure and media influence directly correlated to over half of the world’s population of females experiencing low self-esteem.
March 8th marks International Women’s Day. We would like to join the effort to break through the roof of social pressures and unreasonable expectations of females by giving you some simple tips for boosting your self-esteem through solo travel and becoming a truly confident woman. If you’ve had a wanderlust for months — possibly years — but never made it further than the local park for fear of going alone, now’s the time to take a leap of faith!
What Is International Women’s Day and Why Do We Still Celebrate It?
International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually around the world on 8th March since 1911. It is a chance to celebrate women and their achievements across all spheres of society. The event draws groups, organizations, and communities together to raise awareness of the inequalities between men and women that continue to exist today. According to the World Economic Forum, we are still over 100 years away from closing the global gender inequality gap. It is as important as ever that women take time out of their daily lives to find time for self-care and love.
For this year’s International Women’s Day, why not seize the moment and take the first steps towards becoming a braver and more confident you?
Traveling alone for the first time
We all have a dream travel destination, but many of us never make it a reality. Often, this is because we fail to find like-minded souls who want to commit the time, money and effort to the same holiday or travel experience. To travel alone for the first time can be nerve-wracking. There are visas to arrange, airports to navigate and unfamiliar cultures to brave, all without your best friend or partner at your side. But traveling solo can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Think of the sense of pride and achievement you’ll feel to know that you felt the fear and did it anyway. On your own, you get to make all the decisions, letting you create your dream trip, exactly the way you want it to be. You can do exactly as you please, without having to consider anyone else. Do you want to leap out of a plane and eat fried insects? Who’s going to stop you? Would you rather hit the shops than spend three hours chanting in a temple? Do it.
But how do you build the confidence to really go for it? Fortunately, we’ve put together a solo female travel tips article and there are some other small, unintimidating steps you can take in your everyday life to gradually boost your confidence and take you one step closer to finally booking that dream trip.
Try Something New
You know how it feels, don’t you? You’re bundled up in a snuggly blanket with a hot cuppa and the TV on, hearing the rain beat down outside. You’re safe, warm and happy in the comfort of your own home. Are you going to make the effort to go for drinks with your new colleagues, or are you staying put in your PJs with your favorite TV show?
I’m pretty sure that many of us will opt for familiarity and comfort over trying something new. Leave my sofa for a night out with new people? That sounds like far too much effort, not to mention a little bit intimidating.
This natural inclination to default to the familiar and safe option is human nature. We tend to make decisions that shield us from risks and uncertainties. However, it is this habitual decision-making that stops us from developing and becoming more confident. If you never break out of your comfort zone, you’ll never challenge your fears or give yourself the opportunity to develop confidence in new situations.
Break free from this cycle and try something new today. Why not try that soul-cycle class you’ve had your eye on, or maybe dive into swimming lessons to overcome your fear of water to finally learn how to surf? Fear can be crippling and stifling. The rewards of trying something new and challenging your personal boundaries will give a much-needed boost to your self-esteem. Doing something out of the ordinary will give you a new perspective and enhance your self-awareness — and, you never know, you might even enjoy it.
Learn to Say NO!
A large number of women struggle to say no with confidence. In both social and work environments, we want to please and are reluctant to let people down. Your friend invites you to dinner and you don’t want to offend them, so you accept, even though you have a pile of work to catch up on. Your boss asks if you can get that file to him by the end of the day. You’re swamped, but you just can’t say no for fear of losing credibility.
We all enjoy making others happy, especially those close to us, but if you neglect your own needs and desires, you are likely to feel unfulfilled and frustrated. Learning to say no will give you the time and energy to invest in your own wellbeing. If you don’t look after yourself, you’ll have no energy to help others, anyway.
In this situation, you can be assertive without being unhelpful. A “no” doesn’t have to be an outright “no”, but it can still help you to achieve the outcome you want. If your boss asks you to get a document to him by a deadline you will struggle to achieve, try replying with, “Sure. I’m currently working on X and Y, which would you like me to move to tomorrow so that I can meet that deadline?” Here, you’re establishing your boundaries and making it clear that you can’t achieve it all, as well as giving your boss the responsibility of deciding what will and will not be achieved today. You are saying “no” to doing it all by 5 pm, but without giving a harsh response that seems unhelpful.
Spend Time Alone
Are you feeling a little unmotivated and down today? Modern life is fast-paced and full of competing demands, but such a lifestyle has a different impact on men and women. Research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that women are twice as likely to experience anxiety than men.
Juggling dirty nappies with financial worries and employment instability can lead to high levels of stress and stress-related conditions. Who doesn’t crave a little me-time when life gets busy? Being alone is often confused with being lonely. Although similar by definition, they are very different experiences.
Spending time alone by taking a few minutes out of each day to do something that you enjoy can be enough to recharge your energy levels and boost your motivation. Meditating and focusing on breath work is also a great way to take a break and focus on you. But sometimes, we just need to escape the familiar and have a real break. Few of us have time to jet off for weeks in the Caribbean, but a weekend spent traveling somewhere new can provide a whole host of benefits for your health and self-esteem. Wellbeing short breaks offer the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors, enjoy new experiences and focus on you.
Every woman experiences her own challenges. There is no definitive, one-size-fits-all solution to improve self-esteem. But if your goal is to feel brave enough to book that dream solo holiday, that’s one hell of a motivation. Devote some time to yourself and think about what makes you take the safe option and why that is. Then, try something new. Stop worrying about what could go wrong and feel excited about what could go right, and you’ll be on your way to making achieving happiness and confidence a new habit.