As anecdoted earlier, I am someone who likes to practice alone. I love the control it affords me. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want. I get to be at the center of my work, and this pleases me.
To be completely honest, however, finding this joy in isolation came out of necessity. I was alone for most of my young life. There simply weren’t many kind, similar people around. Because of this, I learned to live inside my head — altering reality as I saw fit, and entrenching myself in worlds no one else had access to or would ever understand.
Rearing myself in isolation allowed me to excel at two of the three facets characterizing confident people. The third I fought until the bitter end, until I realized it handed me my greatest offering.
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Self-Reliance is the sureness that you are able to do something, It’s not cockiness or bragging. There’s no swagger or talk about what you can do. It is a quiet, willful, unwavering sense of belief that you can figure out how to get things done. You don’t compare how well others can do the same things. You’d rather not look at your neighbor’s methods. When the plotting, planning, and execution of work is the most sought after action, you don’t mind if it takes a little longer than necessary. Learning and doing is the goal, and, regardless of the outcome, there is always a victory you can credit yourself for.
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Hand in hand with self-reliance is the ability to disconnect and return to your absolute truth of self. Here lies the most marvelous of intellects – the capacity to disagree. To trust that you are right (or at least just as right as the next guy) is the best favor you can award yourself. It means that all the things you have done have been worthwhile. It dictates you have a purpose and a meaning and something to say. Your past work and experience have given you a sense of certainty. You can defend your ideas. Yes, you will absolutely be wrong at times, but on the other side of that is simply more correction. Admissions change the pencil marks so they can be darkened in ink. The ability to hold your own thinking sacred in the midst of contradiction solidifies your sense of self and value as a placeholder in this world.
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This is the one that terrified me. I did not like sharing myself. I was outstanding at asking all of the right questions to find out about them. They didn’t need to know about me. Luckily, very few ever asked. Even then, I made for an excellent actor. I was a sponge and a chameleon all at the same time. If I opened up they’d know exactly where to strike. You remember your hurts and harden your scars.
If you’ve ever heard Brene Brown speak, (she’s the gal up there on the right) this noble hiding of the soul doesn’t play out well. Self-protection is also self-stifling. Since those who rely on themselves also insulate themselves, battle lines get drawn. Shielding yourself from hurt also wards off jubilance and bliss.
In my dark years, where I sat in pain and unaffectedly paid attention, I understood very well what suffering and sadness is. Little did I know I was practicing of discomfort. I was preparing myself to pinpoint hurt and cultivate empathy.
What I once thought was my greatest weakness – my emotional sensitivity — has proved to be my greatest strength.
Discomfort doesn’t seem as scary if you can allow yourself to sit in it. It becomes old hat. There’s a faith that future uncomfortable situations will turn out just fine. You almost welcome the unease to find out what change it can bring.
In the end, confidence goes beyond knowing you can do anything. It gives you the satisfaction and delight that you have something to contribute. If not your ideas and self, then the belief in others. Confident people seem to beget more confident people. The result is a plague of riches and giveaways, with everyone taking just enough and sharing everything they have. The most Utopian of cooperatives are populated by confident beings.