eric kim street photography - Only in America-red cowboy

Dear friend,

I think that most of us lack confidence in ourselves.

We lack confidence in our artistic abilities. We lack confidence in our ability to take risks. We lack confidence in following our own dreams, and our own hearts.

Why do we lack confidence?

I think a lot of us lack confidence because a lot of us grew up in societies, families, and environments which didn’t encourage us.

I’m lucky enough to be raised as an American — where my teachers always told me to be an individual, that failing was okay, and my parents were incredibly supportive. I thought I could never fail.

Whereas I know in Korea and Japan, failure is seen as (worse than) death. A lot of societies in the world, children aren’t encouraged to take the path off the beaten road. Rather, children are taught to become as generic as possible, to get into a good school, get a good job, make a lot of money, buy a house, and maybe one day, travel and see the world.

We don’t need to be slaves to our past.

You might have been raised by an unsupportive parent. You might have not had any social support in school or your local community.

But why let the past hold you back?

Know that you have in your control to change your destiny. Today. Not tomorrow.

Changing your mindset with your body

The first step is to change your mindset. To have supreme confidence in yourself.

I feel one of the best practical ways to build confidence in yourself is to build more physical strength. That can mean start doing push-ups, chin-ups, squats, going to the gym, doing yoga, doing squats, deadlifts, bench-press — whatever. It might mean going hiking, biking, or anything physical.

You first want to have confidence in your body. The more you build muscle, lose body fat, the more positive hormones will flow through your body. If your body is physically strong, your mind will also become mentally strong. That might also mean getting rid of your body of toxins — sugar, processed foods, alcohol, simple carbohydrates, starches, and anything else that causes you to feel bloated, gain fat, and make you feel tired after eating a meal.

Cut the negativity

A lot of the people we know in our lives hold us back. They don’t believe in our dreams. They always put us down. They are dissatisfied with their lives, so they are also trying to drag you down to their level.

If you were Henry Ford and you told your friends you wanted to create an automobile for the masses, everyone would have thought you were mad. “Why would people want a car, when horses are just fine?”

If you have crazy dreams for your life, you need to cut negative people from your life. You need to cut away negative energy, and negative vibes.

For me, that practically means disconnecting myself from social media. All you will see is horror, pain, and suffering in the world — all sensationalist news, which will discourage you. Not only that, but you will feel discouraged with all of your friends bragging about how good their lives are. You will feel little compared to them.

My suggestion: put yourself on the same level of the titans of history. Find those great people from history, and make them your personal mentor. It doesn’t matter if they’re alive or dead. Read their books, interviews, and put yourself on their level.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

We all love comfort. We hate pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. We love the status quo. We don’t like breaking societal rules.

For me, the biggest confidence boost has come through street photography. To take photos of strangers (with or without) permission is one of the strangest things. But in shooting street photography, I have built personal confidence. Because taking photos of strangers is far outside of my comfort zone.

Even when it comes to interacting with others — to step outside of your comfort zone, to make small talk, or to try to understand the soul of someone else is hard. It is tough, awkward, and not typical.

Whenever you feel comfortable and cozy in your position in life, you need to push yourself harder. Do you want to keep lifting the same weight in the gym for the rest of your life? Do you just want to stay at the same 9-5 job for the rest of your life? Do you want to live a life full of personal greatness, or just live a mediocre life, and one day die?

Tips to build personal confidence

To build more personal confidence, here are some tips or assignments you can try out:

  1. Cut out one negative person from your life, everyday: You know who that might be. Your boss, your co-worker, family member, or “friend”. Only surround yourself with positive people, who believe in your dreams. It is true that “you are the average of the 5 closest people to you”.
  2. Break a social norm: What is a social norm that everyone follows in your society? Whatever that is, break it. Don’t just do things for the sake of being “polite.” Be okay with saying your mind, or alienating people.
  3. Gain physical strength: Do the simplest possible thing to build physical strength. Try to do 5 pushups a day for a week. Try to do 5 body-weight squats a day for a week. Buy a chin-up bar, and try to do at least 1 chin-up a day. Signup for the gym, and perhaps try out squats, deadlifts, or bench-press (doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman). Or do physical exercise which is fun for you — team sports, yoga, or running.

I believe in you friend— be strong, and never doubt yourself.

Always,
Eric

Learn more: Conquer Your Fears >