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The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence You MUST Know for Interview

National American Miss Titleholders during rehearsals at Nationals 2016. Photo courtesy/NAM Facebook.
National American Miss Titleholders during rehearsals at Nationals 2016. Photo courtesy/NAM Facebook.

Believe it or not, there is a difference between the terms self-esteem and self-confidence.

Contestants often mix these up in an interview, as in everyday speech the terms are often incorrectly interchangeable.

However, the judges before you are often educated individuals and know the difference between the two.

So, with that being said, it’s time for you to know as well.

The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

The Basics

Self-Esteem: a confidence and satisfaction in one’s self.

Self-Confidence: confidence in oneself and one’s powers and abilities.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry, I felt the same in all of my teacher prep courses where we discussed this.


Emily Roberts MA, LPC wrote in a May 2012 article, “The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence” on healthyplace.com, “Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard or self-love you have. Self-esteem develops from experiences and situations that have shaped how you view yourself today.

Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving math (this is true).

When you love yourself, your self-esteem improves, which makes you more confident. When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of esteem.”

As you can see, the two go hand-in-hand in some situations. But it is possible to have one without the other.

“Self-confidence and self-esteem do not always go hand in hand,” explained Neel Burton, MD in an October 2015 article on Psychology Today titled “Self-Confidence Versus Self-Esteem.” “In particular, it is possible to be highly self-confident and yet to have profoundly low self-esteem, as is the case, for example, with many performers and celebrities, who can perform before an audience of thousands but then damage and even kill themselves with drugs.”


So, how does this all apply to you as a pageant contestant?

“In my opinion, self-esteem is how you feel internally about yourself while self-confidence is how you outwardly project that esteem,” said pageant coach Casey Crow McCorquodale. “I caution my pageant students that there is a fine line between confidence and cocky. A good way to ‘soften’ the tone in interview is to say, I’ve been honored/blessed to have done/won such and such.”

As many of you note, you may be confident in your interview and interpersonal skills. (Read: 10 Things That Will Destroy Your Confidence For Pageant Interview)

But, you may have negative body image issues. These issues will come across in swimsuit/fitness and perhaps even evening gown presentations. (Read: How To Build Confidence Before Competing in Pageant Swimsuit)

You must be confident in all areas of the pageant in order to succeed. More importantly, you must truly believe in yourself that you are capable of doing this job. (Read: 7 Ways to Get Winning Pageant Confidence)

The title is often for a year after that crown is placed on your head. You need to believe that you can hold yourself to the standards of the title long past pageant day.

Often, contestants who continuously place high in pageants are able to accomplish this because they have done so so many times that they have high self-esteem that radiates to the judges.

Contestants who constantly place just short of the crown should watch what is going on and find out where they may be harboring some low self-esteem from missing the cut.

Working with a coach can help identify the issue, build up your self-confidence in the area, and ultimately help you with your self-esteem to take on the stage.

Our self-confidence often comes from outward praise from others; our self-esteem comes from our inner praise of ourselves.

Going Forward

If you win and go through your year as if it is an obligation or a chore rather than an opportunity and an honor, then you had high self-confidence on pageant day but probably low self-esteem.

If you can walk off that stage proud of yourself and your head held high without that crown on your head, you’ve got some major positive self-esteem and can take on the world – no crown needed.

Remember this: self-confidence will get you through pageant day but self-esteem will take you through your entire life.

Long may you reign.

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