Confidence. Franklin D. Roosevelt said these words, “Confidence…thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them, it cannot live.” His words sum up why true inner-confidence is so difficult to own. Whether it’s mustering up courage to go for a job, walk up to group of women you don’t know and join a conversation or walk out of the hospital with your new baby, confidence can quickly escape your grasp.
Growing up, I was a relatively good girl — I got good grades, I was good at sports, and was not a trouble maker. I mostly did well throughout school, keeping the status quo. Of course, I had my self-doubts and insecurities, but so did everyone else. I underplayed these as just a part of growing up.
As a young girl, I just assumed I was confident.
I would allow myself to participate in softball games, but I don’t think I ever allowed myself to be great. I would convince myself and others that I didn’t like it, so if I failed, it didn’t matter. I love to read all the books and see all the plays, but I never allowed myself to write or get on stage.
Now, 20 years later (give or take), I think about those actions and decisions. I didn’t hate softball and I could have done more. I would have loved to have been a part of the school paper or plays, but I wouldn’t let myself. I was so scared of rocking the boat, of stepping outside the box. I was afraid of failing. I held myself back to shield myself from the disappointment of failure.
I can see now, that as a young girl, I lacked confidence.
As the years rolled by, I have grown into a wife and mother. I have grown in my career and have surrounded myself with uplifting friends, but that path hasn’t always been easy, largely because I had to build my confidence along the way.
I had to learn what confidence meant and how it looked best on me.
When I pictured a confident person, I pictured someone always put together. Carrying a large presence. Being the first to speak up, with the loudest voice and having the right answer, given in the perfect presentation, every time. This isn’t me. Since I don’t fit that bill, I assumed that I couldn’t be a confident person because I didn’t have this personality type.
Through a few life experiences, I have realized that often, the loudest person in the room, is the least confident. Confidence for me has presented itself in a quieter manner. I want to observe and understand the situation before I answer. This tactic helps me feel confident that I am considering everyone’s perspective and I truly understand the situation.
A few weeks ago, I was watching my daughter play with another friend. My knee jerk reaction to watching her was concern. Her friend would jump right in and play basketball and she would hang around the edges bouncing the ball and watching. I was concerned about her confidence. One of her insightfully wonderful teachers was there and offered a perspective, “Look how she analyzes everyone and everything. Once she is comfortable, she’ll jump right in.” And she did. I almost cried seeing her confidence tactic mimic mine. I now know it’s there and how to build on it.
I want to teach my kids to build confidence in their own way, not in the way the world expects.
As a parent, my goal is to work myself out of a job. One day, my kids will live without me and even at this young age, I need to begin giving them the tools to confidently step out into this world and make a difference.