When I was in the sixth grade, I played the part of School Janitor #2 in the annual children’s-church Christmas play. You’re probably thinking right about now, “wait… did she just say a janitor? What does that have to do with Christmas?”. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t remember how the part of school janitor fit into the Christmas story. I don’t remember any of my lines. I don’t remember any of the songs that we sang (because of course it had to be a musical).
All I remember about that play is this one thing: I was terrified.
I had stage-fright and I had it bad. If you’ve ever experienced this awful sensation before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about: sweaty palms, shaking knees, blurry vision, the feeling that you could projectile-vomit at any given moment… yeah, it’s a real blast.
I guess I made it through the play without any issues, despite the fact that I was in a fear-stricken daze the whole time. Like I said, I don’t really remember much about that night but, from what they tell me, it was a success (“they” being my super-rad parentals… hey mom 🙂 ).
Thankfully, I haven’t experienced this awful feeling in quite a while. Though I spend a fair amount of time on stage in front of people, my experiences with stage-fright are few and far between these days.
Looking back, I realize that the reason I had such extreme stage-fright that night was because of the lack of confidence that I had in myself. I was so worried that I would embarrass myself in front of hundreds of people because I was convinced that I was not smart enough, talented enough, or brave enough to play School Janitor #2 successfully. I was convinced that I would fail, and the thought of it terrified me.
This mindset has come to be known as The Confidence Conundrum.
Catchy name, isn’t it? Well, the meaning of the phrase is equally catchy… and that’s where our problem begins.
First off, let me explain our conundrum. The Confidence Conundrum is this: The belief that in order to be confident, you must be liked, loved and accepted. But then, you must first have confidence in order to be liked, loved, and accepted.
In order to have confidence at your job, you must have affirmation from your superior.
In order to have confidence in your social life, you must be liked and accepted.
In order to have confidence in your relationship, you must be shown constant love and affection.
In order to have confidence in the pursuit of your dreams, you must know that other people like and support you and your ideas.
Confidence is a feeling – a state of mind. Confidence is the perception that you lack nothing and that you are well-equipped with everything that you might need to be successful. (Those are the common beliefs, anyway).
The most common answer to this problem would be to simply start believing that you lack nothing. That you already have whatever it is that you need in order to make you confident. However, this kind of thinking can get us into trouble when we start believing a sort of false reality in the name of confidence. For instance, thinking that you’re a successful entrepreneur when you haven’t made a dime in your life, or believing that you are the most beautiful creature to walk the face of the earth even though your personality is extremely ugly.
No, the answer to The Confidence Conundrum is not to feel as though you lack nothing and live in delusion. The solution is to be comfortable with your imperfections and failures and willing to learn from them.
For example, people who are confident in business are comfortable with failure. People who are confident in their social lives are comfortable with rejection.
We often fall into the belief that if we accept and embrace our failures, then we become a failure. But that’s not the way that it works. Confidence is accepting the truth that you will fail, and being able to learn and grow from those failures. It’s being comfortable with who you are exactly how you are.
When we learn to accept our failures as a part of life without letting it define us, then we can make decisions boldly, live without fear, and love unconditionally.
The Confidence Conundrum – Solved.
What do you think? How has The Confidence Conundrum impacted you, personally?