Confidence is a word that is often misconstrued or misunderstood. The context and tone can be everything. I’ve heard superiors condemn confidence in a workplace from being intimidated by it. And I’ve heard people claim to be confident, when really they are just arrogant, egotistical assholes. Sometimes it’s hard to really pinpoint what confidence can look like when attained and carried out in a healthy manner in one’s life. So I thought it might be fun to share what I’ve learned thus far and see what you might have to add to the conversation.
The Insecure life
I’ve spent most of my life not really thinking I was very confident. I had spent many years misunderstanding what confidence was. I was actually quite confident. I was just confident in a lot of the wrong things. I knew exactly how to make a great first impression. I knew which cards to play. I knew how to fool anyone into thinking I was tougher, stronger, and more intelligent than they were. This worked great for a little while. But soon I’d begin to second guess myself, over analyze every word I said and move I made. Before long, the broken, flawed, wounded part of me would come out, and it was never pretty because I was never really fond of being intensely vulnerable with people. So I would close off, push them away, and never talk to them again. This was my life for a long time. Tack on emotional wounds that I would carry with me for years on end and it was a recipe for disaster. To me, confidence was merely a facade to get people to like me, or girls to fall in love with me. Confidence was a manipulator. Nothing more. And it only worked for very short sprints.
It seems like 20 somethings and teens have become increasingly more debilitatingly insecure. Paralyzed by a lack of self-worth and very fractured images of themselves, most of this generation seems to be dying slowly on the inside, while becoming a shell of their potential selves on the outside. Our culture fosters intense deep insecurities of all types in all of us constantly. Bullying, assaults of all sorts, and human inequality in all of its forms have constantly reminded us that we are not as good as someone, or that we think we are better than someone else. These are amazingly constructed and even more perfectly executed lies. We’ve all bought into it in one way or another, and it effects our cultural DNA.
Discovering The Different Types Of Confidence
Eventually, I realized I was flawed and wanted to be different. I imagined what type of person I might be if I was in a healthier state. How would I carry myself? How would I dress? How would I communicate? I looked to others for examples of confidence. I found very disturbing and unhealthy versions like:
- The Jock
You know this one by his/her bullying mindset. They have to be the center of attention, and they enforce their authority with violent and threatening behavior. They are the leader of the group simply because they find people who are weak, insecure, and easily manipulated. This person is convinced they are better than everyone else, and yet often doubts and questions this fact deep down.
- The Know-It-All
This type is always the “one-upper” of the group. You have a crazy awesome story to tell your friends? Well this person will have one better. They are quick to steal the thunder and regain control of the situation. They are smarter, more experienced, and will remind you at every turn. They exude confidence through sheer force of knowledge, but they usually are quite insecure about the reality of if anyone truly likes them. They may even see themselves as the least valuable of anyone they know, and are constantly trying to prove their greatness to everyone in a feeble attempt to also convince their inner self that they are valuable.
- The Jezebel
Beware of the outwardly beautiful. Especially if it becomes apparent that they know they are beautiful. Usually not the favorite in religious circles, this type is highly manipulative, and will do anything to get the attention they feel they rightfully deserve. They are charismatic, and often highly extroverted. Whether they follow through with their flirtatious manipulations is irrelevant. Just the act of leading you on for the thrill of control is dangerous enough. The irony is that usually their insecurity is a very intense and devastatingly painful emotional wound that has caused them to believe that they are worthless outside of their beauty, and are not worth any more than the physical attention they can get. They desperately want someone to show them they are worth more than their looks, but they don’t know how to get that type of attention, so they settle for the cheapest expressions of love.
I could keep going but I think these three are enough. You get the point. There are plenty of personality profiles that exhibit different kinds of unhealthy confidence.
The flip side of this is actual living, breathing healthy confidence. I know, it’s like a unicorn. Almost mythical. But it is out there. If only in momentary lapses of rational, proper, respectful, loving, selfless behavior.
Stumbling Upon The Healthy Ones
One day it was almost as if I woke up and there was this light bulb in my head, shining a new light on information I had previously missed. All of the sudden it made sense to me. The way to be confident in a healthy way was to be ok with myself, and let go of past things. Let go of what I had done to people, and let go of what people had done to me. Just be content with who I am as a person. This has only actually begun to happen in the last 6 months or so. Coincidentally, this was around the same time I left the Church. Though I don’t believe this is a coincidence at all. If you are around a people group that is rarely ever genuinely themselves, and harshly criticizes and judges you for being yourself, then how are you ever supposed to feel any amount of confidence in who you are?
Once I left my former life and began a life free of consequences for authenticity, I suddenly started to understand myself a lot better and actually be ok with who I am.
I started speaking with more authority in my life. I knew what I wanted and was no longer afraid to go get it. I started taking risks. And I actually physically started standing up straighter. Seriously! It was comments made by friends that even brought this to my attention!
What I learned was that healthy confidence comes from a place of knowing who you are and being ok with yourself. Realizing there are always things to work on, but having the guts to admit these things and tackle them head on. I used to live in fear of being myself. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m willing to try new things, go to new places, travel the world, pursue my dreams, and make as many mistakes as it takes to get to where I want to be in life and become the man I want to be.
The Implications Of A Confident Life
Now my future doesn’t seem so bleak and depressing. I used to feel like I was never actually going to amount to very much. It felt like tomorrow wasn’t really worth living for. Today I feel very differently. It truly is amazing how far a little healthy confidence can go! I’m willing to try new career paths. I believe in myself and know that I can and will accomplish great things. I almost instantly started creating new things. I started writing blog posts one after another, I started writing new songs, I took on trying to make playing music more of a job and began trying to get gigs out of town and start traveling to play music. I even took on the project of figuring out how to have a new album of songs out sometime this year! Let’s just say if I had a new years resolution, it was to make 2016 the year of confident living. To have a of risk-taking, adventure seeking, traveling, loving, passionate life.
One last thing…
Being confident in myself brought another strange surprise. I started to feel compelled to bring confidence out in other people. I started being a better friend to people who are in my life or just came into it. I felt this deep seated need to be better for others. I felt that I had the ability to speak life into someone’s life and encourage them to be better too. This is by far the greatest of all the things I’ve gained from confidence. It’s nice to feel better about myself and my life, but to have an impact on someone else’s life in a positive way is of much greater value.
I hope this post has encouraged you in some way. It’s an ongoing conversation, as always. So if you have something to add, feel free to comment. I certainly don’t claim to know anything about anything really. I’m just sharing what I learn in my own experience, which is always relative. My only desire is to be vulnerable, authentic, and encouraging to you. I hope you take something away from this post that is all of those things and pushes you to do the same in your own life.
Until next time…