It is a word used so often in our vernacular that I almost forget what it means, or, at the very least, I never stop to really and truly contemplate it as a word or concept.
But confidence is this huge thing;
it is what parents and teachers are supposed to instill in our kids;
it is the message of so many children’s books and movies;
it’s what makes the bestsellers for adults and what makes celebrities into stars.
But, it wasn’t until today that I really realized how crucial confidence can be in practical life.
I would say that on the confidence spectrum I am doing alright. I feel as though I can be honest about my strengths and weaknesses and I don’t think that my views are too distorted.
For instance, I am not confident in physics, loading the dishwasher, playing baseball, history before WW1 or my ability to bake a pie from scratch.
I am, however, confident in my ability to read thoughtfully, my skills with children, my palate/ability to tease apart and identify different ingredients by their smell and taste, remember obscure dates and tongue twisters.
But what just occurred to me, to which you might just say, “Um, duh.” is this: Confidence actually can make you better at a skill.
There. I gave you space to say the, ‘Um, duh.” but really, have you thought about it?
I think that the general sentiment is that when one is confident in something they are more likely to do that something.
But I am saying that when one is confident in something, they are more likely to do that something well.
Here is how this revolutionary breakthrough happened for me this morning:
Today, I had a bit of time to kill between getting a chai latte and a catch-up with a bestie and going to lunch for some girl time with another bestie. And so, I decided to have my nails painted.
I realize, by the way, that what I just described above seems like I am living like a RHOLM but no. Not even close.
I went to a new-to-me salon that was the closest place to me, as I walked through the rain, and when I sat down to have my nails painted, Rosa, my manicurist, spoke to me with a friendly confidence, though English was clearly her second language.
“Where are you from?” I asked her in Spanish. She is from Ecuador. And then I gave her my famous line, about how I used to be fluent in Spanish, having lived in Barcelona but how now, a decade later, I have lost it.
“You have a wonderful accent, though!” Rosa complimented me, kindly. And that gave me a sudden, unexpected boost of confidence. There was a time in my life when I could speak Spanish just as easily as I could speak English, yet now, I find myself paralyzed with fear and self-doubt, when I try to conjugate verbs in my head or remember which tense is appropriate to use at which time or think, “but isn’t ‘idioma’ a masculine word, despite the fact that it ends in an ‘a'”?
I ended up spending the next half hour speaking Spanish with Rosa. I say that generously, as it was Spanglish to a degree.
It went something like this:
She asked me if Barcelona was pretty.
“Es muy bonita allí. Yo recuerdo cuando llegué allí vi palm trees y yo no lo podía creer.
And she didn’t understand what I meant by “palm trees”, so I broke out my iPhone and showed her a palm tree emoji.
In any case, during our exchange, much of my Spanish came back to me very naturally. I didn’t think, I just spoke, and it wasn’t perfect, but we were communicating, and because she had complimented my accent, I made sure to speak as properly as I could.
Rosa’s compliment to me not only made me feel better but it actually made me better because it took away the anxiety surrounding something about which I do not feel confident at all, and without that anxiety, I was able to perform to the best of my ability. I was not just speaking more, but I was speaking well.
And I think that this is universal.
And so, I am going to try to start a new movement of confidence building.
I try to compliment my friends, always sincerely, on their many strengths and gifts, but in doing so, I am not trying to boost their egos, but rather to actually help them to better themselves.
I am a better writer because I decided to write honestly on this site. I am a better writer because I write more often, and the more often I write, the more I hone my skill.
But I am also a better writer because I am willing to be brave and take risks and that confidence has helped me to turn my “online baby book” into a passion and business.
So here is my challenge for today:
If there is something that you want to do but feel a bit afraid of doing it because you fear that you will suck at it, I implore you to try. Just try.
I bet you that you will surprise yourself.
And do you know what is really awesome? And infectious? And attractive?