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A partner recently told me “you need to be confident to be with me”.  My first reaction was to wonder why he was with me in the first place.  My next was a dissection of exactly what “confidence” means.   As little girls we are conditioned to believe that confidence is expressed in catty competitions with other little girls.  As confident women we are called conceited, bitchy, and shrewish.    As a woman who has had to suck it up and be all of these things at one point in my life, I hate the word “confident”.  I haven’t survived the worst parts of my life because I was confident.  I don’t keep pushing forward, growing, learning because I’m confident.  Strong, sometimes.  Stubborn, undoubtedly.  But confident?  Where does it come into any of this?

I first had to ask myself this:  What is confidence, and where does it become hubris?  Am I confident for wearing a two-piece bathing suit with an extra forty pounds on me?  Was I confident when I quit a stable job to chase a career in hopes it was the best move for my family?  Was I confident when I stepped out on a stage and shared some of the most vulnerable moments in my life?  Or was it stupid?  When we talk about risk and the unknown, what’s the difference?

The answer was simply: The difference is knowing it might fail, accepting that, and not givingup so easily.

You see, confidence does not mean I’m not also scared shitless, that I don’t sometimes feel like I’m a mess just faking it well enough to get through the day, that I don’t have moments where I am an intricately and inexorably flawed human.  Confidence is not the absence of weakness or doubt, but the willingness to meet it head on and give it a decent fight.  It means knowing that sometimes I’m not going to be good enough, and that’s okay.  It’s knowing I’m going to fail and trusting myself to heal from it and learn something from the experience.  It’s continuing to give all of myself in good faith that I’m contributing something to the world, to my family, to just one person.  It’s getting up and telling my story over and over again no matter how rote it may feel because it might help someone find their own strength.

So, back to the matter at hand.  Am I confident?  I honestly have no idea.

I don’t strive for confidence.  That’s a superficial battle.  What I strive for is courage, compassion, and a little adventure on this journey.  The rest will come.

 

Aloha.

Go now, cultivate.

 

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