When I was a teenager I always thought confidence was one of those things that some people had and some didn’t – just a matter of luck, like big boobs, long legs or parents who weren’t divorced. As I got older, especially as I entered my thirties, I realised I’d got it all wrong; whilst some people are more confident as a result of their upbringing or certain personality attributes – things you could attribute to “luck” – confidence isn’t something that can be defined in such a binary manner – that you either have it or you don’t.
It is something that can be earnt and developed – through hard work, positive application and effort, through having words with yourself, finding your own path and any number of other things. It’s elusive though, and even more easily than it can be gained it can be destroyed. Often in an instant, and frequently by things that we have absolutely no control over. Like a piece of soap in the shower, one minute it’s there, sitting firmly in our hand, gliding over our hot bodes and making us smell of orange and bergamot. The next it’s crashed down into the bath, scaring us with the sudden rap, denting its previously unblemished form, and, as we bend down, our flabby white ass hanging in the air, we just can’t seem to get a grip of it.
Starting to understand the often ephemeral nature of confidence has made me realise that it’s not something that you just end up with, but is something that requires both effort to acquire and constant vigilence to maintain. The way I see it now is this: you build it yourself. What you do affects how you feel about yourself, and if you don’t do things that are positive – that take you forward, push yourself, and make you feel like waving your hands in the air and shouting “FUCK YEAAHHHH BITCHES!” – then you’ll never get it, have it or own it.
I know if I let myself be full of fear, doubt my own abilities and worry about what other people think then I’ll never achieve that positive momentum. And I know that if I stop my journey and let those negative thoughts on board then that will also be the case. Looking at it any other way was over-complicating the matter. I could justify whatever I wanted to myself, attribute feelings and opinions to others that they didn’t have, or let my views of myself be clouded by my own lingering insecurities, but all that matters is what I can control. And the flow of positivity in my life is one such thing.
I try not to let myself drift into these meandering philosophical posts – I’m all about practicality and real-life applications and keen not to let this blog become a platform for my rambling musings – so, what can you do, day-to-day, to make it work for you?
Make an effort.
Effort is rewarded by results. They say that the people who are the luckiest are those that work the hardest, and that is absolutely correct. Often the rewards aren’t even the things that you were looking for or wanted – they’re the by-products of putting yourself out there, meeting new people, looking for opportunities and, as they say, creating your own luck.
If you sit on the floor sobbing and wailing, tipping a big bucket of negativity over your head then don’t expect some fairy to jump out from behind the sofa and rescuse you with a soft, fluffy towel and cup of tea. You’re an adult – act like it.
By its very definition, moving forward involves taking a risk – you are going somewhere you’ve not been before and so there’ll always be an element of risk as to what you’ll find. Embrace this – learn to be excited by this and use that nervous energy to propel you forward, not hold you back.
Learn to be rational.
There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have irrational thoughts and make decisions based on those (and if there is, I’m not sure I want to meet them!), but learning to recognise when your emotions have a valid place and when you are just being stupid and need to get a grip will make it that much easier. Often stopping and thinking is enough.
Understand that it’s all down to you.
This is a point I feel I often labour on this blog, and probably in real life too, but at the end of the day is all down to you. Getting your confidence on the basis of what others think is a false situation that will never benefit you, because you’re trying to please them. It’s your life, and you’re the only who is in a position to take charge of the course you’re going to take. Going back to that soap analogy, if you just leave it in the bath, watching forlornly as the water spills over it, gently pushing it around the plug hole, then don’t be surprised that in a short amount of time it will be all gone.