The Reason Why Confidence Feels Like A Rare Commodity

Flickr / markusspiske
Flickr / markusspiske

Why does confidence seem so scarce? So unattainable? So far out of our reach? It feels like something that some people are born with, and others will never get. Like being born with blue eyes, or having freckles. Either you have it or you don’t, and there’s no way of changing it.

Confidence can sometimes feel nearly impossible to obtain. It’s made out to be an almost-mythical concept, meant only for the most beautiful, glamorous celebrities out there. Meant only for the girls with flawless Instagram photos, the ones who get an insane amount of likes for their sheer perfection.

Confidence can feel like a rare commodity because we’re made to feel like we don’t deserve it unless we earn it. Unless we have a perfect body or an insane amount of money or expensive clothes. We can’t be an average person who has self-confidence just because we’re comfortable, and happy, with ourselves and our appearance. That’s just unheard of.

In today’s world, you’re not allowed to have self-confidence unless you have a reason.

And when you do defy the odds and have confidence – when you actually dare to be accepting of yourself – people don’t know how to handle you. When someone gives you a compliment, have you ever just said “thanks” without following it up with something self-depricating? Saying “Oh, thank you!” when someone compliments your hair, instead of saying “Oh thanks, but it looks disgusting. I haven’t washed it in a couple days.”

Have you ever noticed how people react when you just accept a compliment without apologizing for anything?

Sometimes they’re actually, openly surprised that you dared to accept a compliment. That you dared to humbly agree with them, instead of contesting it with something insulting about yourself. Sometimes there’s just an awkward silence. Because you’re waiting for them to speak next, but they’re still waiting for you to deflect the compliment.

Having confidence is praised and encouraged when it’s just a hypothetical situation. But when you actually have it, and you’re bold enough to openly like yourself, people are thrown off. People assume you’re arrogant or vapid or self-centered.

Sometimes it feels like we’re being taught that we should hide our confidence, if we do have it for some bizarre reason. If you’re going to be confident, be confident on the inside. On the outside, make sure you’re still belittling yourself. Because you don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

Obtaining confidence is also difficult because it feels like we should only have it based off of physical and material aspects of ourselves. The way we look, or how thin we are, or what kind of clothes we have, or what our apartment looks like. It’s perfectly okay to like the way you look and the style you have, but those aren’t the only ways to feel good about yourself.

Why aren’t we taught to feel confident if we’re intelligent? Or compassionate? Hard-working? Funny? When we’ve mastered more than one language? When we’ve learned a new skill that we’ve wanted to achieve for a long time? These are all things to feel proud of, to feel confident about. But the world is trying to trick us into thinking that that’s all worthless unless we have a pretty face to go with it.

If you dare to have self-confidence, never stop. Don’t let anyone take it away from you, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to give a reason for liking yourself.

If you don’t have much confidence, it’s not going to change overnight. But a good place to start is to stop putting yourself down to make other people feel comfortable. Stop asking for permission to like yourself. Stop hoping someone will validate your physical appearance or your sense of worth.

There’s always going to be naysayers. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t want you to feel good about yourself. Acknowledge that they exist, but do not give them control over how you see yourself. This might take a while, but you only need to start with a small step. Try saying “thanks” the next time you receive a compliment. And don’t apologize for it. TC mark

Kim Quindlen

I'm a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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