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Slices of Life

Thoughts on confidence

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I read something today that changed my perception of the concept of confidence. It said something along the lines of: 

“Confidence can’t be seen or heard. It can’t be created by anyone but you.”

I found this profound. 

I’ve always believed I lacked confidence. I’m guessing many of us feel this way. I lived my life thinking my lack was simply the way things were. I saw other people as confident – born that way – and I envied them. I thought their confidence came from abilities or talents – a knowledge that they had what it took to stand out from the crowd in a good way.

I saw confidence as this ethereal characteristic; a tenuous trait that wasn’t naturally bestowed upon me. Or, something that came as a result of the approval and accolades of others.

Neither is true.

We are all born confident. If we weren’t we might never learn to walk. 

When we were babies, we looked up at all the people walking so much more proficiently than us. It would have been easy - the default, even - to believe the hill was just too high to climb. But we all did it. We all learned to walk. 

If we weren’t confident, we’d never take that first step, much less conquer the mountain. But we did. We learned to walk and then to run and jump and skip. Because we believed we could and we weren’t afraid to try - even if it meant falling over and over again.

Confidence doesn’t come from the approval of others. It doesn’t come from coaching, pressure, instruction, support, accolades or anything else. Other people can support us and boost confidence, but they cannot create it. That has to come from within.

Confidence can’t be seen or heard, so we may not realize it exists in us, but it is there. It can’t be bought. It can’t be earned. It can’t be quantified or measured. We alone hold the secret code that grants access.

We start life filled with confidence - to walk, to talk, to eat messily with a spoon. But then, for many of us, it wanes. We allow the outside world to influence our inside voice and our light flickers and fizzles. Leaving us alone in the dark, needing to rediscover our own spark - again.

Confidence is there for the taking. All we have to do is grab it.

I know what you are thinking. Easier said than done.

I agree.

But just knowing and understanding and realizing confidence comes from within – it can only come from within – is half the battle.

Here’s the other half: There is no such thing as confidence. Simply put, confidence doesn’t exist.

Unless you will it into being. Unless you decide it should be so.

It’s as easy as that. And as tremendously difficult as that.

Here’s my takeaway. 

You may lack confidence, but no one knows this - except you. Unless you let them know - expressively or telegraphically. The same goes for exuding confidence. No one knows whether it’s real or a farce.

I’m not advocating living a farce, but I am advocating finding the confidence that is alive and well within you. And that is, most definitely, not ever a farce.

It is real, if you make it so. Sometimes you’ve got to talk it before you walk it.

You don’t have to be loud and obnoxious. True confidence is never loud and obnoxious. 

But you can will it into being. Tap into what is already there. What has always been there.

Waiting for you. To go out and do that next big thing.

With your head held high and your confidence intact.

More than intact. Palpable.

Let yourself feel it. Let yourself know it.

And even if you swing for the fence and it comes out a huge miss, that needn’t impact your confidence factor. It just means you tried. (Never say failed.)

Next time you’ll hit it over the fence. Or ask for that promotion at work. Or write the next best-selling book. Or voice the words, “I love you.” Or get the dishes unloaded before midnight. Or introduce yourself to the new next door neighbor. Or get out of bed in the morning. Or do whatever it is that makes it a win for you. 

Do it all with your head held high, like the confident person you are. I’m rooting for you.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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