Interviewed by Sania Ahmad.
I see that you founded the page self_idence on Instagram. Could you tell us a little more about it?
SELFidence is a youth organization spreading awareness on the importance of self-confidence. Our goal is to empower all the youth around the world to have confidence and believe in themselves. Having confidence and believing in yourself is so important in society and I believe that we should try to spread more awareness on it! In the society we live in right now, it is very easy to care more about what others think of you than what you think of yourself and how much you believe in yourself.
I see that you’re South Korean. Do you believe that the stigma around mental health is prevalent to a notable extent in the South Korean community?
Yes, I would say the stigma around mental health and mental health conditions are very much strong in the South Korean community. Since most of the value of students place on the scores and academics, South Korean students get stressed a lot about the colleges they go to and the ranking of the college. Even through their whole life, there are a lot of people who are struggling with their mental health, but with the stigma, not a lot of people get support even from their families.
What got you interested in creating an initiative focused on mental health?
When I was in middle school, I didn’t really realize the importance of mental health. However, through becoming a high school student, I realized that believing in myself is so important in order for us to take risks and try out the things that I truly want. There was a moment when I realized that I was giving up all the opportunities and interests just because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Through this chance, I started to review myself mentally and what I have been thinking these days. It wasn’t easy for me to realize this and try to gain more confidence in myself, so, I thought that creating an organization that can help others through this journey and raises more awareness on the importance of confidence would be really wonderful!
What do you usually do when you’re feeling down?
When I am feeling down, I like to take a self-care break! Sometimes, I go on a date with myself, doing all the things that I like to do, and have a chill day. I mostly go to a bookstore and maybe go to a lake to take a walk and have a good meal. Also, I like to write all the things that I am grateful for. This definitely helped me to feel much more grateful and happy.
Your organization, SELFidence, seems to be focused on advocating for self-confidence. Where you believe the line is drawn when it comes to confidence and overconfidence?
I think the borderline would be when you start to only care about yourself. Caring about yourself and appreciating yourself is absolutely important. However, I think when you do not appreciate the important and positive people around you, it would get easier for you to be overconfident.
Do you want to pursue mental health as a career?
Even though I would love to be a mental health advocate, I am not considering pursuing mental health as a career. Learning more and sharing about mental health is very interesting and important to me, however, I would like to keep helping others additionally.
What are your future plans for SELFidence?
My future plans for SELfidence would be to constantly try to spread more awareness on confidence and mental health and help others through their journey of gaining more confidence. We will be constantly posting on our social media and hosting projects and events to help the youth around the world struggling with lack of confidence or mental health.
How do you think social media affects one’s self-confidence?
I think social media affects our self-confidence both positively and negatively. By meeting like-minded friends all around the world and using it to connect with others, one can gain a lot of confidence and support. On the other hand, through all the negative comments and judgments that are easily conveyed through social media, I believe that one’s confidence can drop a lot too. I think we could get more positivity from social media if we focus more on the positive people around us and believe truly in ourselves!
What are some practices you’d recommend to acquire confidence in oneself?
I would definitely recommend having a morning routine journal. I started using this from about May 2020 and this helped me to gain confidence so much. I mostly write down things I am thankful for, a daily goal, and a positive quote for myself in the journal. Also, I would recommend exercising in the morning. This helped me to feel much fresh and believe in myself from the beginning of the day.
When do you believe positivity becomes toxic?
I think when one is getting pressured and stressed from positivity and self-care would be when positivity becomes toxic. Positivity and taking care of yourself is a great action and affects you a lot. However, when you are getting pressured from all the positivity and the fact that you have to be positive would be rather negative for you. Even though positivity is important, we should try to find other ways to keep ourselves positive when it starts to be toxic.