When I was a teenager, I always thought once I hit my 20s, a sense of unabashed self-confidence would just drop into my body, leaving all adolescent insecurity behind. And while that is partially true, your 20s are still riddled with feelings of anxiety and self-doubt over career stuff, relationship stuff—just feeling like an inadequate adult in general.
But now that we’re not 16 anymore, we have to develop little ways of tricking ourselves into feeling confident so that we can carry on with our lives. After all, we have sh*t to do. Nobody’s got time for self-loathing. So, to find out what real-life 20-somethings do to up their self-esteem, I got in touch with 15 women, ages 20 to 29. From taking adrenaline-pumping workout classes to springing for a spray tan, this is the best confidence-boosting advice from real millennial women.
1. Wear a power lip color.
“This sounds so simple, but I always put on lipstick for a confidence boost. A bright, bold color—fuchsia, or berry, or deep wine—instantly makes me feel more girl-in-charge, and helps me channel my inner ’Yoncé. I like Julep’s Light on Your Lips in Happy Hour ($22) and Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution in Love Liberty ($32).” — Faith, 25
2. Put on your “confidence” face.
“My personal mantra is fake it till you make it. Whenever I’m feeling insecure, I do my best to mask it with an air of confidence, whether that’s the way I carry myself, wearing a standout makeup look, or dressing in my favorite power outfit. I’ve noticed that I admire confidence in others, so I figure if I appear the same, others will perceive me in a positive way. Eventually, or at least hopefully, that mask of confidence will evolve into true confidence.” —Kaitlyn, 21
3. Treat yourself to a spray tan.
“To boost my self-confidence, I make an effort to get a spray tan at least once a month. Nothing makes me feel better about myself than when I have a natural-looking, sun-kissed glow. I feel like I look healthier, slimmer, and overall more attractive—I feel more like me when I have some color.” — Olivia, 24
4. Punch something.
“I just started taking boxing lessons again at Prevail in Los Angeles, and I love it. Nothing makes me feel more confident than when I successfully complete a new combination. I leave my class feeling strong, happy, and ready to take on the day. Also a good, rich, dark nail color—like OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark ($10)—can make me feel super confident. It helps me channel my inner femme fatale.” —Aimee, 23
5. Remember old compliments.
“For me, it’s helpful to recall compliments that made me feel like I accomplished something. If I’m feeling a lack of confidence over my appearance, I’ll conjure up how it felt when someone told me how put together I looked. If it’s about work, I’ll think about a time someone gushed over a project or read over old emails from bosses or professors. Keeping that in mind, I try to let people know when I’m impressed with them, because I know how big of an impact a few positive words can have.” — Emily, 29
6. Adopt a “self-love” ritual.
“Rituals that keep me grounded and true to myself allow me to practice self-love and create true confidence. I feel most radiant when I take five to 10 minutes morning and/or night to do small things that bring me joy. Some of my favorite rituals are lighting some Palo Santo ($16), dabbing my wrists and neck with a signature scent like Sandalwood ($20) and setting some beautiful intentions.” — Megan, 25
7. Check something off your to-do list.
“I do something productive. I complete a task that I've been avoiding on my to-do list (pay bills, book that flight, put away the clothes lingering all over my room, etc.) Once I do that, a feel a weight has been lifted. And that sense of accomplishment makes me feel like I can do anything. That, or I do a really killer job on my mascara. It’s impossible not to feel confident when your lashes look amazing.” —Deven, 26
8. Take a fun workout class.
“I just started taking Body Pump classes at New York Sports Club. It’s a choreographed weight-lifting class with barbells set to music. I always feel awesome afterwards and definitely ‘feel the burn’ the next day. I may not have worked my way up to heavy weights on each end of the barbell yet (think Spongebob when he weight-lifts with marshmallows), but I’m slowly noticing muscle definition, which makes me feel strong and confident. Also, now that it’s summertime, I feel comfortable busting out the faux tan in full force. St. Tropez's tanning mousse ($32) gives me a super-believable faux glow that makes me feel like a bronzed babe. It's interesting how much Western society loves being super tan and deems that more attractive than my usual pale skin—and I definitely succumb to these standards—but being tan (even artificially) does have a way of making me feel more confident.” — Lindsey, 25
9. Be kind to your skin.
“Having a really, really fresh, clean face is what makes me feel my best. I really don’t wear makeup, so having cleansed, exfoliated skin makes me feel incredible and bright. After that, I just put on a little tinted lip balm, like Glossier’s Cherry Balm Dotcom ($30), and I feel like ME!” — Maddie, 23
10. Exercise to live—don’t live to exercise.
“I like boxing and yoga because they make me feel strong and proud that my body can support, bend, and defend myself, which makes me feel confident that I can handle myself in any situation that I'd get myself in. Boxing gives me the confidence to walk alone at night and yoga gives me the confidence to bend how I want in the bedroom.” —Elsa, 27
11. Fake it.
“I honestly just fake it! Standing up a little straighter and telling myself that I'm hot sh*t is usually enough to convince me that I actually am for a few moments. It also helps to remind myself that chances are, 90% of the people around me are giving themselves the same pep talk.” — Victoria, 24
12. Call your mom.
“When I’m feeling down about work, school, or anything else, calling home never fails. No one else can talk up your skills and good qualities like your parents can, so talking to them is like a guaranteed confidence boost. I also find that talking to my family reminds me of where I come from and why I’m doing the work that I’m doing. A little perspective does wonders for motivation and confidence.” — Paulina, 20
13. Push yourself.
“Recently, I have found that every time I go to the gym and work hard, I instantly feel better about myself! Even though I may not see results right away, knowing that I gave 100% perfect effort and really pushed myself makes me feel more confident.” — Amy, 21
“I feel my most confident after a CrossFit sesh that’s just kicked my ass. I’m a sweaty, disheveled mess, but I feel like I can take on the world. And that feeling keeps me going throughout the day. (It also doesn’t hurt that squats make my butt look good.)” — Allie, 20
15. Take a couple hours for yourself.
“My easiest trick is to take your time. I always feel better when I've taken a long shower, allowed myself a chance to decompress, properly shave my legs until they’re super silky-smooth, and apply a ton of coconut oil ($36). The extra moisture and sexy scent makes me feel like a million bucks. Plus, air-dried, freshly washed hair makes me feel like a goddess. It dries big, fluffy, and a little bit ’70s. The other thing I’ll do is give myself extra time to do my makeup before a night out. At normal speed, it takes about 10 minutes to do a full face. So I give myself a half hour and slowly apply, blend, and primp. I feel really great when I’ve gotten the chance to listen to music, get ready at my own pace, and really get into the intricate details. That’s when makeup is most fun, after all. By that point, I’m ready to dash out the door and strut down the street. I always know I’m feeling myself when I give the streets of NYC my best strut. Oh, and a spray tan. It's a little embarrassing, but I am obsessed with spray tans. I’m really pale, so I don’t ever go super dark. But a quick spritz gives you that radiant glow that others can’t quite put their finger on.” —Hallie, 27
What do YOU do to feel confident? Tell us in the comments below!