Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Is confidence a quality or trait that is learned?

I am so puzzled with the whole concept "confidence" and "self-assuredness."

(sidebar: spellcheck is telling me that self-assuredness is not a word, and I am feeling highly self-conscious about this, and as a result my confidence in my ability to complete this blog post has significantly plummeted within the last three seconds. But I will carry on).

My question tonight - a question I ask myself often - is, when does confidence kick in?

If it is something that is learned, when the hell am I going to learn it, if ever? I mean, for all intents and purposes my life is half over and I still lack confidence.

Maybe it isn't something learned. Maybe you are either born with it, or you aren't. Some people just seem to have a natural sense of self and nothing can take that from them. I am not one of those people.

Maybe, we are all born with confidence, but at some point some of us are robbed of it. Being overly criticized by another person, whether it is an authority figure (a teacher), a family member (a parent), or a significant other has the potential to strip that from us. An unkind glance or an ugly comment can cause self-doubt, and before you know it you start to examine yourself with judgmental and unforgiving eyes.

Maybe it is a fallacy. Maybe no one truly has confidence. Perhaps we live in a world where no one actually possesses true confidence, but some just have better game faces than others. There are those that can "fake it 'til they make it," but deep down inside they are just as insecure as the next person.

And then, of course, there is arrogance. Arrogance is NOT confidence. I know plenty of people who think they are confident and honestly, they are nothing but full of themselves, which is so unattractive. I tend to think, too, that the arrogant ones are deep down probably the most insecure of all, those who always feel the need to remind everyone around them about how "great" they are.

Which goes back to my last point, that maybe there is no such thing as confidence at all.

But that cannot be true. Can it? I see confidence in my child. True confidence, not arrogance. When I tell her she is really smart or really beautiful, she smiles and says "I know." I LOVE that response. It is not snobby or conceited at all; she knows that I truly believe these things about her, and she accepts these remarks as truth.

I was struck the other day when I told her she was adorable and she rolled her eyes and said "no I'm not, Mom." When did THIS happen? When did her response change? When did she start to sound like......like ME?

(sidebar: this is some truly shitty writing, and I blame it on the fact that I am still dwelling on spellcheck not liking "self-assuredness." But I will carry on).

So....let's reverse the thinking. If confidence is potentially something that can be robbed from us, is it something that can be given to us? Was my daughter confident because she was born that way, or because her father and I gave her lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement? And on the flip-side, is lack of confidence something she is learning by watching me and watching how I respond when I receive a compliment?

I can be very self-deprecating. I cannot take compliments, and often find a way to insult myself when a compliment is sent my way. It has become reflex. Or - is that how I have always been?

I just don't know. How do we learn how to love ourselves? When and why do we learn to hate ourselves?

If I still haven't figured this out for myself, how am I to pass this knowledge on to my daughter? I don't want her to put herself down; I don't want her to grow up with self-doubt. I want her to believe that she is truly capable of anything she is willing to work hard at.

I really don't understand it. How can I learn to have confidence? Did I ever have it to begin with? Did I lose confidence in myself somewhere along the way, or have I truly never had it? And when will I gain it? When I am 80 years old? When?

Is it an exercise in futility? I will keep trying, keep striving, and hope that with every passing day I can learn to love myself a little more than I did the day before, and hate myself less than I did yesterday.

I hope it is indeed learned behavior, and that I will learn it so that I can teach it to my child sooner rather than later.

All I can do is carry on. And try to remind myself that while I may not be the best, I am definitely not the worst.