Ignorance and Confidence

“To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” ~ Mark Twain

I will admit here, to all who might read this, that I have gained such confidence in myself as of late that I think I have a skewed perception of who I really am. This applies mostly, but not solely, to my looks. If you have read some of my previous posts, particularly my “Big Woman” post, you will know that I fully admit that I am both flawed and sexy. But, I have noticed recently that I think I am thinner, younger, and better looking than I actually am. I am not walking around, however, thinking I am par with Selma Hayek, Jennifer Lawrence (just named sexiest woman in the world the FHM), or Zooey Deschanel. I am not conceited or that far off base. (I am aware, for example, that I have a horrible set of stretch marks left over from my pregnancy and that my thighs [among other parts] are entirely much too plump. Still, my general attitude is “like it or leave it.”) So, my probable ignorance doesn’t hurt my self-esteem. Not at all.

In addition to thinking that I am, without a doubt, a hottie (ha!), that most men find me irresistible (seriously?), I also, especially when conversing with others, think of myself as quite interesting. I thought about listing the reasons why I am so appealing, compelling, and out of the ordinary, but that is highly unnecessary and will undoubtedly feed my ego. Apparently, no need for that.

This newfound ability to place myself on a pedestal has been quite refreshing as I’ve spent far too many years feeling ugly and unworthy. (In middle school, I organized a plastic surgery fund for my seemingly ugly nose and face. My peers, following my lead, actually contributed to the account after leaving a dog bone on my desk.) I have, at times, loathed myself completely. There would be bright moments of feeling like a superstar, but most often I felt like a slug. Yuck, yuck, and more yuck.

Why, as humans, do we hate on ourselves so much? Think we are less than who we really are? Compare ourselves to others? Focus on our flaws?

According to Psychology Today, we tend to avoid over-confidence (which may be a good thing), but that this avoidance may hinder our overall self-esteem. I understand trying to squelch any tendencies toward pompousness and narcissism, but why do we view over-confidence (or confidence in general) as a bad thing?

In PT’s article “Confidence: Too Much, Too Little, Just Right”, Loretta Granziano Breuning, Ph.D, writes: Your confidence may annoy your fellow mammal because they are trying to promote their unique individual essence just as you are promoting yours. Your confidence may get in their way. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong.

So, is this true? Do we limit each other’s potential and self perception only because it makes us jealous and gets in our way? While we say we find confidence attractive and we wish it upon everyone, are we really threatened by it so much so that we’ve developed a passive resistance to it?

Recently, after spending some time as the solo dancer on the floor, I asked a friend if I seemed a bit like an exhibitionist. I rarely become self conscious about my dancing—solo or otherwise—but the venue was packed and I was up in the front shaking what I’ve got like nobody’s business. My friend’s response was “Well, probably, a little.” Sad as it was for me, I sat down. I still boogied a bit in my seat but was hesitant to get back on the floor. Exhibitionism is not something I value and I didn’t want to be seen as a woman who indulges in it.

Still, I had to ask myself, am I in fact that woman? That person who needs the attention of others to bolster their opinion of themselves? A person who desires all eyes on her? I had to ask myself where my confidence comes from: from within or from the peering eyes and compliments and attention of other human beings? The fact is, I’m not entirely sure. I think my current bout of loving myself started with the positive comments of others. Still, I feel that this external sense of esteem morphed into something internal and solid and real. I think that is super duper fantabulous and I cannot lie about that.

But, to back this story up a few paragraphs, this desire not to offend or to be criticized by others can’t be the only answer. Why the negative soundtrack, the negative focus, the hate?

While continuing to peruse Psychology Today, I found an article by Suzanne Lachmann, Psy. D, about the ten causes of low self-esteem which include disapproving authority figures and care givers, society and the media, and different forms of trauma, but this only partly answers my question. These may contribute to our unconstructive, unenthusiastic, downbeat thoughts about ourselves, but what is this desire to wallow in those thoughts or the inability to conquer these demons even though we understand where they come from and must know that they are untrue?

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote: I’ll be honest. My life has been characterized lately by an endless, and unfortunately negative, track playing over and over in my head. I am not at liberty to share the track, just know, that regardless of my attempts to shut the cerebral turntable off, it seems to just keep spinning, and spinning, and spinning, and…

And then later: As I am feeling like this invasion is practically Bubonic in nature, I have to remind myself that I have every ability to control it. I do.

I talked then about Shavasana and that internal cave and lake that I have mentioned over and over and about not having to look into another’s eyes to see the God in me. Still, until recently, the default has been to over analyze and criticize and be all sorts of down on myself.

So, do we have the ability to control it? To reroute our unpleasant defaults? I think we do and I wish a little sense of the grandiose to everyone I meet. But, it is probably easier said than done.

Still, until the crash, I am going to keep feeling like I’m more beautiful, more radiant, more hip, and more intriguing that I actually am and not worry who it offends. It’s about me, right? Not about the opinions of others. And, if Mark Twain is correct, this happy ignorance, this determined confidence, can only lead to success. And, I think I am on that train already. May you, sooner rather than later, hop aboard with me.

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