Confidence – full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing
I used to think I had confidence. I would read articles and books on how to exude confidence. Straight posture, projecting your voice, emphatic hand gestures. These were the things I read about and dutifully did thinking “Hey look! I know what I’m talking about!”.
It wasn’t until recently that someone told me I came off meek. I came off as unsure and someone looking to others for permission. This was surprising and incredibly hard to hear when I’d worked so hard to not look that way. After some self-reflection I learned that actions/wording that I thought were polite or respectful actually came off as timid and apologetic. I think part of this “mislearning” came from my culture and childhood.
Growing up, if strength came across in my voice it was interpreted as talking back and being disrespectful. If I was curious and inquired about a “somewhat taboo” subject the majority of the responses came back shaming me for asking the question, so I learned that questions were things that naughty children asked and disrespectful to people who knew more than me.
Unfortunately, I took this misunderstanding with me to situations as an adult – don’t ask probing questions to folks more senior than you at work – who are you to question them? Don’t ask questions in your bible study group, the reason you have the question is because you’re stupid and way behind others on your faith journey.
I’ve always known that you learn from your mistakes but I’ve always felt like you could learn from mistakes like misreading a recipe, or (as a teen) engaging in gossiping and then feeling guilty when someone’s feelings were hurt. Those mistakes were okay to make and would build your character. Mistakes that were not okay to make – anything related to your career, money, or your reputation.
Because I have the fear of making mistakes in this regard I haven’t given myself a proper chance to take risks and learn from them – learn what options there are to combine my education with my passion, learn how to ask potentially dumb & potentially brilliant questions, or learn how to just be me instead of who I was taught I was supposed to be.
Because I haven’t had a proper chance to take these risks I lack a great deal of confidence in these areas and that comes across in my delivery and tone. So even if I do get the courage to stand up for what I think, the audience is paying more attention to my meek delivery than my great idea.
I’m discovering that this self-consciousness not only holds me back from real happiness but it also holds me back from fulfilling my full potential and embodying the person I’m truly meant to be.
If I don’t have the confidence to believe in myself, how are others going to have the confidence to believe in me?
Today, I give myself permission to make as many mistakes as possible…the only rule is I need to be genuine in my efforts to be my best person and I need to reflect and learn from any mistakes I make.
I’m happy that I’m giving myself the freedom and permission to make mistakes. I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned to date. I’m hopeful that this will help unlock my true happiness and potential.