The Thin, Red Line Between Arrogance And Confidence

Ashley Campbell
Ashley Campbell

I used to be pretty insecure as a teenager. You know, like most people are around this age, about your looks, about your body, about being or not being cool enough. The thing is, somewhere along the road, I came up with a peculiar way of dealing with my lack of confidence – and that was making a 180 degrees turn and becoming extremely arrogant.

It is easier to be a dick than to be a loser, so I started to pretend like I was confident by being cold and indifferent to other people. It wasn’t real confidence, it was a fake, but it still lasted me pretty long. Because, as they say, “fake it till you feel it.” And if you fake something long enough you’ll start believing it yourself as well in the end.

But the thing about arrogance is that it doesn’t really survive a clash with reality. Arrogance is something that comes from the outside, not from the inside and it is not built up on any real basis. Arrogance is knowing deep down that you’re not the person you would like to be and trying to hide it. And not only that this mask will eventually break – it also makes you a proper dick in the meantime. Since not being as good as you would like to be pretty much means that you can’t let others to be better than you. And so you end up putting down the people around, in one way or another.

The problem with arrogance is not only that it makes you delusional, it is also the lack of empathy that essentially comes with it.

If you’re walking around, convinced that you are better than anyone else, you eventually stop caring about other people. Since you view those people as so much below you, it makes them unimportant, not really worth giving a thought or contemplation. Also, empathy requires the ability to imagine yourself in other people’s shoes and often in shoes of people who are just really not handling their shit.

But arrogance blocks you from seeing and accepting your own weaknesses – and so you obviously cannot and don’t want to understand the weaknesses of others.
But what is confidence?

Confidence doesn’t come from comparing yourself with others.

Because there will always be someone better than you. If you’re confident because you are the strongest guy in your gym, it lasts only until you go somewhere else where you’ll meet someone stronger. If being confident meant that you’d have to be better than others, truly confident person could be only someone who is better than everyone else in the world in every possible way. Which is obviously not why the truly confident people take their self-esteem from.

In fact, confidence is the very opposite of arrogance.

Confidence comes from the inside – it is what YOU think about YOU.

Truly confident people are fine with themselves, they are happy and proud about who they are. They set their own expectations and follow their own values – they don’t waste time trying to fill expectations of other people. They walk their own paths and make decisions that they believe they’re right. Being a confident person means being someone you can respect and perhaps admire by your own standards.

These two things can be confused for one another. People tend to perceive arrogant people as confident because they give out the external signals. But they are not and it never last – because it is no more than a mask – a wannabe confidence. On the contrary, really confident people never behave in an arrogant way. The most self-confident people I’ve met were always incredibly nice people with so much behind them in terms of what they accomplished or what they’ve been through. But at the same time still always interested about others.

Arrogance doesn’t come from confidence, it comes from the opposite – the insecurity.

And I know that this might sound like the biggest cliché. But it that’s because it is one of the things that are so hard to understand – that the people who keep putting others down are just trying to hide their own issues. Which doesn’t excuse them and it doesn’t make it any less of a bad thing – but it is something that’s good to know.
I’m not an insecure teenager anymore. And I like to think that I’m not an arrogant asshole anymore either. However, I’m certain that I’m still not where I’d like to be yet. Going from one to another, from arrogance to confidence, is one extremely hard, since you are going from zero to million, across the whole spectrum.

And maybe I’ll never fully get there.

But I am sure that throwing away arrogance and becoming truly confident is one of the traits of a person I want to be. And I’d say that’s a pretty good start. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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