Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

What EVS offers to your personality

What EVS offers to your personality

Hi. My name is Denise. I am a 17 year old from Brühl, Germany and as far as I can remember, I’ve always been a very shy girl. At school I didn’t talk to many people. I also didn’t participate very much during lessons. But as I got older this changed. For the last two years I’ve been volunteering in my small village as a handball trainer, and this really helped me build my self-confidence.  

Fast forward to today, and now I am volunteering for six months with INPRO through the European Solidarity Corps. It didn’t take long for me to see the opportunities I have here concerning my personal development. At the moment I am working at the office. I am generally responsible for the website which I’ve never done before. It feels like a challenge to master all the exercises I get, sometimes I really have no idea how to do it but that’s no problem. There are people around me helping and that’s how my skills are getting better.

What I want to share with you today isn’t really my new computer skills, but the development of my personality and the improvement of my self-confidence. But first things first, what is self-confidence? To me, self-confidence is being able to trust in your abilities, qualities and judgments. If I look back, I’ve never had much trust in my abilities or qualities. But that is slowly changing.

During my stay here in I can: create a lesson, talk about my country and work with young people, I am getting better at speaking in front of a larger group and leading classes. So my shyness takes a back seat during  this time. Moreover Polish society forces me to be self-confident and speak the language even if I’m uncomfortable and I can’t pronounce words correctly. Every week, I get three hours to study Polish, but of course I can also study it during my free time just by talking to locals, sometimes  conversations can turn out to be really funny, because of the language barriers.

So in general, to be self-confident you need to have a goal. For now mine is to study Polish and conquer my fear of being criticized.

Obviously there are plenty of factors that can stop you from building your self-confidence, but in general I think most of us just want to stay in our comfort zone. And the thought that we need to be perfect in order to be accepted by others is quite frightening, because while trying to seem perfect we limit ourselves and our potential.

In my case for example, I didn’t participate much during lessons because I didn’t want to fail or I was afraid of what people would think of me. I thought it would be a shame to say something wrong, so I preferred to stay quiet. But then in the school yearbook I got the title “potential A grade student”. Maybe I was. But looking back now, I just wanted to stay in my comfort zone and it prevented the growth of my self-confidence in speaking up.

Besides wanting to be perfect, I also think there are other factors that have to be mentioned when it comes to self-confidence.

One of them is the wishful thinking that leads to hopelessness. By saying: “If I only had…or I wish I could…” This can really hinder you from making decisions or learning something new. Honestly, this is often up to you. You have the power to change your life, to change things you really want to. It just takes a bit of courage and persistence.

A practical example for this is body weight. “If I only had a perfect body.” Generally there is no perfect body. You should love yourself as you are, but even if you want to change, you can! What is important is to have small, achievable goals and to make big successes out of it. So rather than stopping completely from eating sweets, make it into a small goal by not eating them once a week. You will feel more accomplished and it will not be such a big deal. Then slowly you can increase your goals and they will become a habit.  

What I am writing here seems to be really easy but it isn’t. Often help is needed to conquer fears. There have to be people supporting you and appreciating what you do so that you can get better.

So being here on EVS has already started making its effect on me. I believe more in myself and my abilities and the way I do things. I’ve also gotten more mature, which I consider a trait made up of several factors: generally self-awareness, self-control, self-acceptance and open-mindedness. Now I’m also living in a small flat with three other volunteers. This is quite a big transition for me, because in Germany I was living at my parents’ and prepared more or less everything for me. Now I have to be responsible and do things on my own.

At INPRO, the tasks I get make me want to create my own way and do my own projects. I am also very free in how I want to solve tasks. So, for example I’m writing this article and I can choose the theme I want to write about. I chose this one because it’s something I had to handle in my past and which still keeps me occupied. I also think there are lots of young people just like me who are shy and are struggling with self-confident. So if you’re reading this now, don’t give up! Take small steps and soon everything will start to fall into place. You can start volunteering at your local association, or get a hobby, or even find an Erasmus + project and go on an adventure. Volunteering has slowly changed the way I see myself and I’m glad I took that first leap.