I tear myself apart, inside and out, pretty much every minute of every day, but I wish you wouldn’t call me self-conscious like it was the defining characteristic of my personality. Hell, I’m self-conscious because I’m trying to figure out my personality. I have stuff to work on. I know that. That’s the difference between some insecure people and others. I know people say you don’t have to be. But they still notice when you’re not. They still criticize. They still make you feel like you’re not only wrong but also this little, insecure speck of a person. Shit, doe. I am human. You don’t have to make me feel so horrible about it.
“People treat you the way you want to be treated.”
Hey, guess what? People don’t always like themselves. The ones who need to work on their self-esteem issues don’t always treat their own selves with respect because they need love and don’t know how to get it. So they end up constantly needing validation, feeling unable to accomplish their goals, anxious about asking someone out. Not because they have some weakness that makes them unable to like themselves. Why should you make them feel worse about it? Just because they weren’t “confident” in something that they weren’t even able to be confident about in the first place?
So no, you don’t always “want” to be treated the way people treat you. It ends up happening because you might hate yourself and sometimes that’s not entirely your fault.
I understand what confident “should” look like to people and I wish I could say I’m sorry for not always showing it but I’m not because I don’t have to be what you think is confident. I will get frustrated if I don’t do something right. I will get nervous. I will stumble on my words sometimes and then beat myself up for it. I am working on myself. I can get mad if I want to. Just don’t think that’s all I am.
People often like to help by offering the pat advice, “be confident.” As if that’s all there is to it, really. Of course we need to be confident. That’s the whole point. I’m not right now. And its not because I somehow forgot and only remembered because someone else noticed I suck. Its because I have shit to work on. And I totally understand that some people need that “be confident” pep talk because they aren’t owning up to their sense of responsibility to themselves. But sometimes, people are working on their personal crap. And you have no idea what they’ve been through.
Again, I’m not saying that trying to be society’s idea of confident is a bad thing, I mean, you want people who look like they know what they’re doing. But why can’t I mess up or say “um” in a presentation just once or blush a little when I get nervous without everyone telling me that I need to show more confidence? Why can’t you take me seriously despite my less-than-confident looking demeanor? Why am I not a person you can respect if I look nervous?
Can I just point out how stupid it is that an audience will believe anyone who can BS their way to a good speech even if they don’t know what they’re talking about, just because they were “confident”? There’s more to personality than the utter belief in one’s personality. There is depth. There is your personal truth and imperfections. There is your sense of humanity.
You can be self-conscious and self-deprecating yet talented and smart and good-hearted all at the same time. I’m not saying it’s okay to not like yourself. No. That is a different issue. If you don’t like yourself and let other people tell you who you are and aren’t confident because of that, then yes, try to seek out some sort of confidence. You’re worth finding your own self-worth. But what I am saying is, you shouldn’t let anyone else define what “confident” looks like except for yourself.
I’m just tired of the ingenuity that comes with the idea of confidence. “Fake it ’til you make it”. Oh yeah, it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it. If you can say it in a way that convinces people that its true, you’ll be fine.
Don’t be confident if you’re not genuine. Believe in your cause because it aligns with your values. Have faith in your interview skills because you are prepared and have a strong work ethic. Deliver that speech because it’s important to your company. Believe. Don’t try to be confident because it’s an image you think you have to project to someone.
You might not know what your version of confident looks like yet. But be honest with yourself, and don’t think you have to project a fake societal ideal of “confidence” just because you think people will take you more seriously.
Be confident in the fact that confidence isn’t everything.