I was dubbed as the shy girl of the class since I first started school. I was the girl who had answers to all of the questions thrown at me, remedy but still struggled to make my voice loud enough for everyone to hear. On the inside, try it hurt. In fact, drugs it stung. Because I knew that deep down inside, I had something special.
In June of this year, I decided to give a talk at my church about my journey to becoming confident. It was insane. At both my fifth and eighth grade culminations, I had the choice to make a speech, but I backed out because I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough. When I finally gave a talk at my church, I felt like I fulfilled my dream. People were listening to the words I had to say and I felt the connection. But being confident was never part of my personal description growing up.
There was some type of shame placed on people that held themselves at a high standard and knew where they stood. As a kid, I would walk with my parents at the store and they’d spot someone wearing something supposedly shameful, but they looked unbothered. While my parents were conservative and weren’t in favor of it, I was confused. Being naïve, I only saw a person shopping for groceries. And they were okay with what they were wearing. As I grew up, the older generations of my family would talk about what they spotted in public. And most of their comments were aimed towards women that were dressed in shorts or tank tops.They would wrinkle up their noses and make repulsive facial expressions as they spoke about what they’ve seen. I wouldn’t dare to say a word.
Confidence in a strict and conservative family was difficult to find. While other people my age were wearing shorts when it was hot, I wore jeans. I noticed that my best friends could wear makeup, go out with the opposite gender, and wear clothing that was actually appropriate for the weather. I wasn’t one to break out the Bermuda shorts that I’ve had since fifth grade, just to say I’ve worn shorts in public. Along with that, social media convinced me that being sexy and seductive at seventeen years old was normal, but I was conservative and merely “cute.” Other girls in my grade were taking selfies with amazing makeup, perfect eyebrows, and the perfect angles. I, on the other hand, refused to take selfies after seeing that my bare face wasn’t as pretty as those that were dolled up. I was stuck in this mindset that not wearing makeup or not wearing sexier outfits made me less sexy than others that did. And that’s where I lost who I was.
My family was always there for me, but this topic seemed like something they wouldn’t be able to give proper advice for. If anything, it was as if I was asking for a lecture. TV seemed to be my savior. Because I didn’t have an older sister to confide in, I turned to relatable TV shows. During my early teenage years, I watched shows on MTV, like Awkward. and Faking It. Both shows were provocative in the way they portrayed teenage life, but covered relatable topics. In Awkward, the main character Jenna Hamilton weasels her way through high school after going through contrasting phases. Faking It, on the other hand, explored sexuality in high school. And now at seventeen years old, The Bold Type on Freeform has filled that void that I’ve had since both shows on MTV have been cancelled/finished.
When I first watched The Bold Type, I immediately fell in love with the subtle awkwardness that the main character, Jane Sloan, had. To be honest, I intended to watch the show for the actress that plays Jane, who is Katie Stevens herself, since she starred in Faking It. The show is based around three young women working for an empowering magazine known as Scarlet. The situations that the women undergo to not only explore themselves, but also their horizons as part of the magazine industry are both insightful and entertaining. However, the most amazing aspect of the show is how it refuses to stay within a boundary. It explores sex, coming-of-age, and following your passion. Quoting Jane Sloan in the show’s pilot, “It’s kind of why I fell in love with Scarlet, because when I needed it, it was like getting advice from an older sister that I always wished I had.” And that’s exactly what this show feels like to me.
My family was amazing. In a family of five, we’ve always felt strongly connected and have bonded as if we were all on the same page. I couldn’t be more grateful for the family I have. I have an amazing group of friends. I’ve always kept my circle small, and I have five best friends that know how to keep my spirits high. But one of the biggest factors that contributed to my newfound confidence this year was the group of people I discovered at church. For some people, I might sound crazy. But believe me, it’s true. The youth ministry at my church became my family and the ones I found myself turning to for advice. They inspired me with how they were able to be bold and passionate as they spoke in front of huge crowds. You would’ve never guessed that the boldest and most extroverted people could be found at church. And it made me realize that the people you surround yourself with truly impact the person you become.
The Bold Type challenges me to be bold. The people that I’ve surrounded myself inspire me to become even more daring. And although I’ve heard my aunts and uncles bicker about the new generations, they’ve contributed to my views today. I’ve always known that I was special. I’ve always know that women were empowering and confidence always reached out to me in the most satisfying way. When women are able to share the confidence they have, it makes us become a stronger force. Confidence is not something you are born with, it is something you develop. If you love makeup and you feel confident in your sexy outfit, you keep doing you. If you’re conservative and you like it that way, keep doing you. The advice I’ve always needed is that I don’t need to change my image to become sexy or confident. Because being confident itself is sexy.
Written by Charlene Franco