Confidence is defined: “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”
Self-confidence is defined: “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.”
Do those definitions describe you? Or would you describe yourself as more of a weak, scared, directionless, lonely, worthless failure who is spending your life sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else get what they want, all the while wondering how and why everyone but you seems to have life figured out and possesses the direction, drive, strength and confidence to make the most out of life? If so, that’s okay. On one level, it’s a sign of mental health.
Everyone is born lost, weak, scared and confused, and nobody ever learns the true meaning of life. Nobody ever gets it all figured out. Nobody really has any idea what the hell we’re doing here. So nobody can prove that what they’re confidently doing with their life is right. The most confident people you’ve ever seen could just be confidently failing at everything that truly matters and making a fool out of themselves in the eyes of God or the cosmos or whatever. I’m not saying that anyone with any shred of confidence is wrong. I’m saying that humility is sanity, and the goal of becoming more self-confident can’t be to cultivate dogmatic faith in your perpetual supremacy, because that would just be delusional. So if you feel a little lost, you’re just being realistic.
Another reason you shouldn’t blame yourself too much for being insecure is because you’ve been indoctrinated to feel inferior and set up to fail by your culture. Your school raised you to assume that if you don’t excel at bureaucratic testing, you’re not worthy of having a good job and thus a good life. Your economic leaders, who don’t pay you enough to live like a real human being, constantly remind you that if you’re not a millionaire it’s because you’re lazy and not worth a dollar. Your bosses teach you that you deserve to have to follow orders. Movies and sitcoms lead you to believe that if you’re not as beautiful and funny as your favorite fictional heroes then you’re barely a real person. Commercials brainwash you to believe that you’re incomplete, and the only way to complete yourself is to buy things you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. And religions teach you that no matter what you do, you’ll always be a worthless, unenlightened, selfish sinner who doesn’t even deserve the love of your own creator. When you grow up with the whole world telling you that you’re worthless, then your lack of confidence isn’t evidence you failed at what was expected of you; it’s evidence you succeeded at the task you were groomed for.
You were born unprepared, and before you could even get on your feet, the world pushed you down. So your insecurities aren’t completely your fault. However, if someone pushes you down and you don’t do everything in your power to stand back up, it becomes your fault that you’re still down. You’re a product of your environment, but you’re not bound by your environment’s definition of you. The key to freeing yourself from all the self-defeating beliefs the world has planted in your subconscious isn’t by cultivating and exerting raw strength of mind and will power. When you do that, all you’re really doing is temporarily denying what you already believe about yourself. Your perception of your worth is never going to change until you change the criteria you’re basing your perception of your worth on.
Your objective worth isn’t defined by what people think of you, your rank, your success rate, your body fat percentage, the number of people you’ve slept with, the size of your sex organs, the money in your bank account or the clothes on your back. We’re all inherently, equally, infinitely valuable because we’re all cosmic miracles. You’re the rarest, most elegant, most powerful, and thus the most valuable thing in the known universe. Nothing you can ever do or not do can possibly change that by even a fraction of a degree.
And as long as you can think and move, you can solve almost any problem. You can grow out of any shortcoming as long as you set your mind to the task and never give up, but first you need to believe your potential is limitless, because you’ll only let yourself go as far as you believe you can. That self-assurance comes naturally when you stop defining yourself the way your primitive culture tells you to and you start seeing yourself for the cosmic machine you truly are.
To this you might reply, am I really that great? Are any of us really that great? After all, you said yourself, we’re all lost, which can be interpreted to mean we’re all failures. And on the cosmic scale of things, we’re all just pond scum festering for a brief moment in a far corner of the universe. We’re just biological waste that floundered briefly, died meaninglessly and was forgotten immediately. So why should anyone be proud of that?
You should be proud of what you are, because you’re part of something bigger than us that’s truly amazing, and the brevity of life makes our existence infinitely valuable while also rendering our fears and failures ultimately meaningless. You’re not an outsider looking in on the universe. You’re part of the grand design, and you should be flattered to be a part of it all. The mysteriousness of life isn’t cause to give up and loath ourselves. It’s an invitation to explore and be awestruck.
Having said all that, life isn’t just a rosy theory. It’s a cold, hard, stressful place full of brutal consequences. If life keeps kicking you in the teeth, the reason isn’t because you were destined to fail. It’s just that your education is incomplete. You weren’t born as a fully grown, self-actualized, confident, mature adult, but you were born with everything you need to become one. However, unlike aging, personal growth doesn’t happen automatically. Every step you make on that journey has to be done consciously, deliberately and consistently.
If you want the fruit of life, you have to climb the tree of life to get it. If you want to reach the Promised Land, you have to cross a mountain first. The journey isn’t easy, but it’s manageable. You just have to take it one step at a time and never give up. If you’re scared of even starting, the good news is that the longest journey begins with baby steps, and you don’t even have to believe in yourself to take those steps. You can hate yourself, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll just walk right out of the darkness despite yourself.
The other good news is that the journey doesn’t actually have an end. Success and failure in life isn’t black and white. It’s not a matter of whether or not you reached the finished line. The way life works is, the more you grow, the better life gets. The less you grow, the worse life is for you. Every step you take is winning. The only question is, how much of your prize are you going to claim?
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