Having self-confidence and believing in yourself does not make you unattractive. I think females are frequently looked down upon or labeled with derogatory names when we display confidence or feel empowered. The reality is that self-confidence means that you are being true to yourself and that you know your worth.

Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Lee.

Kristin Lee is the founder and author of the travel blog Global Travel Escapades based out of Southern California. When she graduated from university back in June 2021, she had absolutely no idea what she wanted to do. So, like any sane person, she put her post-graduate plans on hold to do a lot of soul-searching and traveling during a gap year. Along the way, she realized what she truly wanted out of life and is currently pursuing her passion of making travel more accessible for others and sharing her adventures.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My origin story begins in China. I was abandoned at birth and left in a box at a train station. Miraculously, I was found by a kind woman who fought tooth and nail with the Chinese government to be granted an exemption to foster me due to the one-child policy and the fact she already had a daughter at home. In the meantime, there was a few months period where I lived in an orphanage. Fast forward, I was adopted by the most loving and supportive forever family and brought home to the United States, specifically Southern California.

As you can imagine, my origin story has always played a large role in my identity and all the choices I’ve made. Throughout my childhood and even to this day, I’ve always felt this internal pressure to prove my worth. There’s a voice in my head that says, “Don’t forget that you were abandoned at birth by everyone once, so what’s to say it won’t happen again.”

This internal belief manifested itself in me always doing what was expected of me. I tried to be the best at absolutely everything I did so I wouldn’t disappoint anyone. This meant getting perfect grades, juggling several extracurriculars, working 3 part-time jobs in university, doing multiple sports, and playing instruments — essentially pushing myself to the limit. In short, I lacked confidence in myself to pursue what I wanted to and instead focused on doing the things that people would’ve expected me to.

This isn’t to say I didn’t have an amazing childhood because I know I did. I am privileged enough to have incredible parents, who are undoubtedly two of the best people I know. They have always been supportive of me and provided me with so many wonderful opportunities. Additionally, I have two older brothers, that like most sibling relationships, gave me a tough time growing up, but were always there when I needed them most. So, while I had a rough start to life, I also know I’ve won the lottery and am thankful to have lived the life I have so far.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My love for traveling inspired me to pursue my career. Honestly, I didn’t even know that I loved traveling as much as I do until I studied abroad in Paris during university in June 2019.

That summer, I spent 7 weeks in Europe, studying Jazz, but mostly traveling around to new places. Some of it was solo traveling, while other parts consisted of weekend trips to different countries for my friend group of 10+ people.

That summer in Europe was so incredibly eye-opening that I couldn’t wait to go back. I even planned to study abroad in Berlin and complete an internship over there the following summer. But, we all know what happened next. So, I put my plans on hold.

My senior year, as graduation approached, I realized that I still didn’t know exactly what I was passionate about and wanted to explore so many of my other interests. As a result, I decided that this was the best time for me to take a gap year, travel, and discover my passions.

During that period, I traveled around for a few months, visiting exotic destinations like French Polynesia, tiny countries such as Liechtenstein, and drop-dead places like Lake Bled in Slovenia.

When I got back, all I could think about was getting back out there. I wanted to find a way to make money, have lots of flexibility in my schedule, and travel the world. After taking a hard look at my life and realizing that this was my ultimate goal, I discovered this was all feasible if I could create a successful travel blog. So, in May 2022, that’s exactly what I did, and I haven’t looked back since.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when I was first starting was thinking that it wouldn’t be hard. I thought I would just post once every couple of weeks and then the money would start rolling in! I mean that’s how social media made it look right? How hard could it be?!

Oh boy, I was so wrong. When I didn’t see results after months and posting a grand total of *8* posts, I realized that I needed to put my head down and focus…but first, I decided to go solo traveling across Europe again for 7 weeks. Because I needed travel inspiration for my blog, right? Needless to say, I didn’t exactly see a lot of growth for about the first 6 months of having a blog.

However, as soon as I got back, my bank account told me I needed to get things organized or I would need to get a 9–5 job. So, I put all my efforts into my blog and worked on it as much as I could. Since making that mental switch and commitment in December, I’ve seen my blog really take off and exponentially grow month after month!

This major contrast in growth taught me that if I wanted to make it in this game, I had to be consistent. I needed to throw my absolute all into it, even when I was discouraged or unmotivated. Because in the long run, my efforts would pay off huge dividends.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Right now, the most exciting projects I am working on are scaling my blog, building my travel focused YouTube channel, and launching my itinerary planning service!

My travel blog is meant to spark inspiration for people’s next travel escapade with very specific content about visiting destinations across the world. Similarly, my YouTube channel aims to make travel more accessible by giving travel tips and travel hacks and having tough yet honest discussions about life.

I think there is a gap in the travel industry with people of color who perhaps aren’t the most aesthetic travelers. For me, I’ve never been one who loves being in front of the camera, posing in huge dresses at 6 AM for the perfect picture in front of landmarks, or seen myself as being the most marketable person on social media.

So in a way, I’m hoping to fill this gap. I want to show how average people of color can easily travel the world, especially to places deemed dangerous or taboo. Similarly, I hope to encourage university students to travel post-grad and normalize taking a gap year. Within American society, we have a very toxic hustle culture that’s almost non-existent in so many other parts of the world. I try to have honest discussions about pursuing a non-traditional career path and hopefully inspire people to lean into their dreams, even if they are terrifying.

The last project I am working on and hoping to launch within the next month or so is my travel itinerary services. I know that not everyone has time to curate their ideal itinerary. So, I am hoping to take that burden off their shoulders and create custom itineraries based on their needs and interests at a more affordable price than travel agents and big companies.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?

It’s crucial to believe in yourself because there are going to be moments when the people around you don’t believe in you. To keep going and not become too discouraged by rejection, you need to believe in your abilities, your work ethic, and your worth. This is something I fully believe in this for all aspects of life.

For example, there were several times when I was nearing graduation from university and my peers or professors advised against taking a gap year. They told me it was a mistake and that I wouldn’t be nearly as employable afterward, as if getting a job immediately after university was the only reasonable choice to be made. However, I knew that I not only owed it to myself to take a break but also that I absolutely had the skills and knowledge to find a job even if I took a gap year.

Another reason I think it’s vital to believe in yourself is so you can fall back on your belief in yourself to pull yourself up when you’re having a bad day. There were so many lows during my gap year where I questioned my decisions and whether I had made a mistake. But it was my belief in myself, my abilities, and my mission to find a way to travel and make money that allowed me to preserve through the extreme lows.

What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?

Believing in yourself means having faith and confidence in your abilities. It means that even if you don’t succeed, you believe you gave it your best effort and won’t let that failure stop you from pursuing other dreams or goals.

Furthermore, I think a large part of believing in yourself is focusing on the areas of your life that you can control. For example, I believe in myself and that I can be a successful blogger and make a high-paying income with enough hard work and consistency.

However, it would be unfair to say I think I can become the best blogger in the world and if I don’t, I must not have believed in myself enough. We can’t control how others go about their lives, so we shouldn’t base our level of belief in ourselves on the actions of others or make it contingent on reaching arbitrary benchmarks.

Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?

As much as I would love to say I’ve always believed in myself, there were so many times when I didn’t believe in myself. For instance, my original major in university was Bioengineering. The university I went to was rated #2 in the country for its Bioengineering program, so I was surrounded by the best of the best.

In my second year, I started to struggle a lot in my classes and felt so discouraged. My lack of belief in myself caused me to change majors without really giving myself the chance to seek help or understand why I was struggling.

I prematurely gave up and as a result, constantly think about what would’ve happened if I stuck it out. Maybe I would’ve pushed through and maybe I would’ve still switched majors. Regardless, it proved to be a critical decision in my life as my life’s trajectory changed from that point forward.

And it’s often during these times of self-doubt and not believing in myself that I normally make irrational or not well-thought-out decisions.

At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?

I realized that it would be necessary to build up my confidence about 7 months after starting my travel blog. At that point, I wasn’t seeing nearly as much growth as I wanted and knew that there were others like me succeeding. I so desperately wanted to see that same success, so that’s when I realized that if I wanted to make this travel blogging thing work out, I would need to truly believe in myself. On days when I didn’t feel like writing or days when I felt overwhelmed, I had to be willing to push forward and put in the work both mentally and physically.

What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Dig deep and identify what you want. People oftentimes become discouraged and lose faith in themselves because they get caught up in comparing themselves with others. This was something that I struggled to grapple with often during university, and it’s what made me lose confidence in myself. However, I eventually decided to ask myself the hard questions. Where do I want to be in a year, 5 years, or 10 years? Would I be happy if I just did what I thought people expected me to do? Having clarity on what you want can help you believe in yourself because you may realize that you have not been true to yourself and are instead following societal expectations. Similarly, taking time to find clarity may make you realize that you are way more than qualified than you previously thought. And if this isn’t the case, you can at least have more faith in yourself knowing that you have a clear goal on where you intend to be.

2 . Read mindset books and listen to podcasts. I know some people look down on self-help books and listening to positivity podcasts — I used to too. But, once I started reading them and starting my day listening to mindsets podcasts, I realized they made a whole world of difference in shifting my mindset. For example, I am currently reading Jen Sincero’s “You’re a Badass at Making Money” and it has been completely changing my relationship with money and instilled a belief that I can scale my blog into something that will lead to financial independence. Mindset books and podcasts provide mental and emotional support even when the people around you aren’t. And for me, they were instrumental in helping me in the early days when I was too afraid of judgment to let people know what I was doing.

3 . Create a Cookie Jar. This is something I discovered while reading David Goggin’s book “Can’t Hurt Me.” The idea is that you sit down and think of anything you’re proud of that you’ve done. Did you get good grades in university? Did you help your parents finish a home project when you really didn’t want to? Maybe you just completed your first half marathon. You can write these achievements digitally in a note on your phone or physically write them down. Then, whenever you’re sad, feeling discouraged, or losing belief in yourself, you can reach into the cookie jar and grab a cookie. Remind yourself of the times you persevered or accomplished something you’re proud of. It’s all too easy to forget or disregard our past achievements and focus solely on the next goal or big thing we are working on.

4 . Track your progress. When you’re working towards a big goal, make sure to track Every. Single. Win. It’s so easy to only think about making giant leaps and bounds. But, these take time and you might get discouraged if you don’t see the progress you had hoped for. Remind yourself of the small picture and big picture by tracking your progress along the way. Seeing even baby steps of forward momentum can be incredibly reassuring and help you believe in yourself when you think something isn’t worth it or you begin to doubt yourself. I track my blog’s progress at the end of every Sunday and reflect on where I could improve and where I’ve made gains.

5 . Find your community. My last tip is to try and find a community. Our journeys can feel so isolating when we don’t see anyone around us pursuing something similar. This is how I felt when I graduated from university and realized I was one of the only people in my friend group who decided to go a non-traditional route and not get a job immediately post-grad or not pursue a masters or Ph.D. So, I joined a Facebook group with other travel bloggers and it massively helped keep me encouraged. Even though we were coming from all different backgrounds, I felt supported and gradually gained belief in myself because I saw that others like me were achieving success.

Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?

Saying positive affirmations and reminding myself of my personal ‘why’ are the two things that have grounded me in the most difficult moments. My biggest downfall is going on social media and immediately comparing myself to others. I get caught up in all the perfectionism and have to remind myself that I am also capable and that growth takes time. Then, I like to think of why I am doing it. What does achieving my goals look like and mean for me? Keeping these powerful messages in the forefront has allowed me to push through the tough moments and acknowledge that my journey is different from those around me.

Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?

Having self-confidence and believing in yourself does not make you unattractive. I think females are frequently looked down upon or labeled with derogatory names when we display confidence or feel empowered. The reality is that self-confidence means that you are being true to yourself and that you know your worth.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?

I’m pretty sure everyone has faced imposter syndrome at one point or another. It’s like a right of passage almost haha. During these times, I think the most important thing is to acknowledge your own achievements and the work you’ve put in. Personally, I struggled a lot with imposter syndrome during my first couple of years of university. Everyone seemed brilliant, and I felt leagues behind them.

But, I had to remind myself that I, too, had accomplished a lot and worked pretty hard to get to where I was. So, whether you were selected by someone or some organization for a program or you took initiative and advocated for yourself, remember your worth, your capabilities, and what you bring to the table. At the end of the day, we all have something different to contribute, and we can’t all be the smartest person in the room.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I hope to inspire people to spread kindness and be less judgmental. This message isn’t new or profound, but it is something that every single person can do. Nowadays, people are so quick to judge and cancel people for the slightest infractions. But, we are all living the human experience and doing our best.

Imagine what a world of difference we would have if we opted to show grace and spread kindness. It could be something as simple as smiling at a stranger or something much grander. Either way, I believe the world would be so much better off if we showed a bit more compassion and empathy.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Ah, there are so many people I would love to have the opportunity to just chat with for even 15 minutes. But, the person I probably look up to the most is Rafael Nadal. He is someone that I deeply respect, both on the tennis court and off the tennis court. I’m someone that has watched him for well over a decade and looked up to for his unrelenting determination, humbleness, sportsmanship, and humanity. I think it would be equally over the moon and terrified to talk with him. But hey, if the opportunity presents itself, I would never say no!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you’re interested in reading some of my work or reaching out for travel itinerary services, you can reach out through my blog at https://globaltravelescapades.com/. I also have a travel-focused YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/@kristinleevlogs, but will sometimes hold honest life discussions there.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thanks so much for the opportunity, and I wish the same for you as well!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.