Ask a Counsellor: Tips on building confidence

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My hamster gave me the finger, I’m failing my Advanced Psychotropics course and the only job I can find for this summer is cutting my baby sister’s toenails – my confidence is shot! What should I do?

Regardless of our academic prowess, at some point every student takes some sort of a hit to their self-confidence. As I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, confidence in ourselves can often be like a roller coaster; at certain points we’re feeling like we’re soaring through the skies and at others we’re feeling like there’s no way we can get up that hill. The task of building your confidence back up can seem daunting, but there are some steps that may help:

Remind yourself of the past:

— Take time to give yourself credit for the little things, even if it’s “just” waking up this morning!
— Ask some friends or family members (or even classmates and professors) what they see as your biggest strengths/abilities.
— If there have been times that you’ve felt like this before, try to recreate some of the healthy strategies that may have helped previously.

Focus on the present:

— Write down in a journal/notebook the things and people that you are thankful for in your life and then send them a thank-you!
— Sit back and look at the things you’re hoping to accomplish over the next few days – what is the most important thing?
— Be sure to match your behaviour with the behaviours of a “confident you.” Dress in clothes that are comfortable and empowering, keep a physically healthy lifestyle and take some time to clean that room… or at least the closet!

Plan for the future:

— Break larger goals into smaller ones—as small as possible; then concentrate on just one teeny-tiny goal at a time.
— Put some time into helping others, either in big or small ways; the next time you are feeling down, these people could be the ones helping you!
— Start something new without the intent of finishing/completing it; this can actually be quite enlightening!

As per usual, feel free to talk with a counsellor about any issues you may have! Counselling Services are available year-round, including throughout the summer – drop us a line at!


Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.