I’m pretty damn confident. Is it because I think I’m hot shit? Hardly. It’s because I know I’m not. And I know what I’ve got.
And I don’t mind being seen for what I am.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get all sorts of messed up and freaked out about how I’m received, perceived or experienced.
A colleague came up to me once, a lovely woman who shows her anxiety on her sleeve and with eyes full of awe told me how much she admired my confidence. “You can tell,” she said, “that you just don’t struggle with all that interior self-conscious, anxious mind chatter.” My mouth hung open. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass by. Woman…you have no idea.
I set her straight.
For better or for worse, you usually can’t tell when I’m nervous, anxious or self-conscious. When I’m all freaked out, I’ll usually get louder, take up more space, become more outgoing and seemingly in charge.
When I am most solidly secure, my presence is quieter, stronger and more full hearted.
My sense is that confidence builds as one confronts not only where they’re strong, but where they’re not. In the knowing and accepting of the range of who we are, we’re less likely to topple with the flux of life. We reach a big, open arm around our idiosyncrasies, around our habits and compulsions, our fears and dreams, our character that some days feels endearing and other days, utterly flawed.
Conceit is a cloak for the swaggering. The conceited are excessively self-interested and self-congratulatory but from a place that owns neither their strengths nor their weaknesses. Conceit feels like a whole bunch of architecture to elevate that which one fears is shamefully inadequate, placing walls that barricade the corridor to the heart.
Fear of being conceited is the killer of confidence and drags around the weighted question “who the hell am I to…?”
Confidence builds as we begin to accurately answer this question. Knowing what you’ve got to offer without backing out, backing down, feigning humility or shrinking away from the responsibility of who you are is deeply needed in this world. When I own what I’ve got, I can see what thwarts it, I know what feeds it, I can feel what takes me out and I am awake to taking good care of it.
Conceit occurs as our attention on ourselves intensifies and inflates.
Confidence builds as our attention on ourselves is refined and then moves outward.