I’m never shy about telling people I think I’m beautiful. I’m never shy about telling people I’m going to be a star one day (I even practice my autograph from time to time, but that’s probably more than you ever needed to know). And of course, I’m not at all shy about telling people that I know what’s right for them. All the time.
Yet the scary truth: I don’t know if I even believe those statements anymore.
They say a confident, bold outer you will produce a glowing, radiant inner you. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.
But what happens when that clear sense of confidence isn’t, well, so clear? What happens when the lines become blurred and you start to wonder: Is confidence ever truly genuine? Or are we broadcasting our confidence to mask deeper insecurities?
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
Some people, like my father, for instance, are confident. And that confidence is genuine. You can just tell by the way they walk, talk and generally carry themselves. It really is a sight to behold, actually. It’s not arrogance, the things they say about themselves; it’s just a quiet, ever-humble assertion that they are content and happy with who they are and where they are in life.
And until a few months ago, I too was one of those people. And then something happened. I’m not quite sure what, but that’s when the trick began. The trick I began to play on myself — and on the world. At the time, I wasn’t even aware of it, but looking back now, I suppose I became what you would call “overconfident.” Not to be mistaken with pomposity, because that’s not what it was. I just suddenly felt a surge of confidence course through my veins. I liked it. I assumed it meant I was getting somewhere, whatever that meant.
Then something happened. The trick turned on me, or maybe I turned on it. I started pealing back that layer of confidence, and underneath, I found a well of insecurities. About my looks. About my abilities. Even about myself as a person.
“You really don’t know me as well as you think you do,” I told my mother one day.
I had to bite my tongue. Those words had never come out of my mouth before. Did I really just utter that cliched-teenage mantra?
Turns out, I was right. Only the you wasn’t my mother. It was me. For years, I’d pretended to be so self-assured, so self-actualized. I didn’t care what people thought of me and I didn’t need anyone. I could do anything and everything by myself.
But in reality, I was just overcompensating. I knew I didn’t have it all figured out. The truth was I hated my handicapped body; I thought I was the world’s worst writer and I was starting to doubt if I would ever be able to live on my own, as the independent woman I should desperately want — and claimed — to be.
It’s that inner defense mechanism, I reasoned, that keeps us doing it. If we constantly project this air of confidence to the world, we’ll be safe. We’ll believe the faux confidence eventually. Others will, too, of course.
Because in the end, while, of course, it’s healthy to accentuate the positive, sometimes it’s more important to look deeper to examine that positive. And if by chance, it turns out to be a false positive, don’t automatically assume you possess some fatal human flaw that will leave you destined to walk the halls of shame for eternity. I can promise you that you’re not alone.
So maybe we should just all stop looking for that key of confidence. Let it come to us naturally, in its own time and in its own special form.
A fake key will never unlock the door. I, for one, am anxious to see what’s on the other side. But, maybe like you, I can wait. I’m pretty sure will wait will be worth it in the end. Don’t you?