Confidence, to me, is not being sure of being liked or of being the best, but it’s being comfortable with failure and rejection. It doesn’t take courage to ask someone out (either in friendships or romance) because to do so, you have to be confident of getting a “yes,” but it takes courage to ask because you have to be okay with a “no.” You have to be comfortable enough with yourself to not have a rejection crush your entire identity.
The same is true for artists and writers. Many never share their work, not because they don’t think they are good, but because they know a rejection with cause their entire identity and view of Self to crumble. When you give that much power to someone or something external, you risk an identity crisis at every turn. This is why I don’t like to think of confidence as a goal, because it implies that you are sure of success, when in reality, success is never a sure thing, either in relationships or careers. Instead, I like to make comfort a goal. I can be okay with failure because I know it doesn’t change who I am as a person, and I can always improve and try again.
A related concept I like to alter in my own mind is the advice to “be yourself.” I feel like this is misleading. For one, who even really knows what this means or knows how to do it? Sometimes I see people trying so hard to be themselves, it looks exhausting. It’s as if they are screaming their personality at me. “THIS IS ME. THIS IS HOW I TALK. THIS WHAT I LIKE. THIS IS WHAT I FIND FUNNY. DO YOU LIKE ME YET?” And they are so busy “being themselves” they forget to try to get to know me at all. And I feel like saying, “hey I can be funny too and I have goals too and I’m a person as well. Don’t you want to get to know me too?”
So I prefer to remind myself, instead of “be yourself” to “just be.” Your personality will be naturally apparent. Your sense of humor will naturally be revealed. Work on getting to know those around you instead of focusing on making yourself known, and those who care will put in the effort to get to know you as well. Just be and the “yourself” part will come naturally. It’s better than everyone trying to shout their personalities over each other.
We don’t have to try so hard to be anything, even ourselves. It’s pretty hard to impress people, so you probably are not going to anyway. And all the things about you that you think are embarrassing are probably not half as embarrassing as the things other people think are embarrassing about themselves. So relax and work on getting comfortable with not everyone liking you and with failing at a lot of things all the time. You have nothing to prove to anyone, not even yourself.
Originally published on Aud Comments. Republished with permission.
As well as a member of OK Nerdy Girls, Audrey Lentz is a poet, creative writer, and freelance writer and editor. On her blog, she writes about feminist issues, literature, and current events. Follow her on Twitter @audrey_lentz