Where Does Confidence Come From?

Confidence was never something that came naturally to me, and I could never understand why.

I remember trying to reason it out in high school: “How is that kid on the football team so cocky and certain? He’s not even that good on the team and I’m captain of the varsity soccer team. He’s not that smart academically and I’ve got straight A’s in my AP classes (note to self, do not use that as a pick up line). He hardly says anything that funny and I’d like to think I’m a witty guy. Even on the scale of attractiveness (although this is a hard one to be objective about) I’d say we’re about even.

So where in the hell does he derive his boldness from?! Why is he over there laughing with beautiful girls, and I’m over here making dead baby jokes with my friends (e.g. What’s the difference between a pile of dead babies and a Corvette? I don’t have a Corvette in my garage.)? But then again, so what if I get better grades than him? It’s not like I earned my intelligence. The right sperm hit the right egg. I don’t take pride in or gain confidence from the fact that I have brown hair. So why would I let other genetic factors do the same? Gahh! So where does his confidence come from then?!?!” I sat mired in confusion through the rest of lunch, while increasingly disturbing punchlines rang out around me(“I don’t fuck a sandwich before I eat it!”).

If I could go back to that moment and dole out some advice to insecure little Nick, here’s what I’d tell him:

“Hey you! Yeah, you. Gangly fuck. I’m you from the future and I’ve got something to say. Yes, yes, you do age like a fine wine, but enough ogling your future self! Close your mouth and open those ears, ’cause I’ve got some life altering advice to give.

Stop comparing yourself to other people! As our dad will one day tell us, ‘suffering begins and ends with comparison’.

There will always be someone better than you – better with girls, funnier, smarter, richer, or more attractive. If you define yourself by what others have, you will always find yourself lacking.

The key to confidence is to love yourself. Love everything about yourself, both the good and the bad. Self-love is the source that confidence comes from.

So stop making comparisons and stop stressing yourself out about senior ball! Spoiler alert: you’re going to spend most of the night cradling a toilet, sharing your expensive dinner with it.

For now, relax, be present, and enjoy this moment with your friends.

Oh, and Snape kills Dumbledore. HAHAHAHAH.”

I realize that hearing “love yourself” as advice to life doesn’t magically resolve all your problems. Your mind is a muscle and learning to love yourself is a process that takes practice everyday.

Something that’s helped me recently comes from a book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant. Essentially, the idea is to repeat the phrase “I love myself” almost constantly throughout the day. I recognize how horrifically corny it sounds, but I can only attest to the fact that it has benefited me. My mind, like most people’s, relentlessly jumps all over the place – regret about the past, anxiety about the future, insecurity about what I just said, ad infinitum. This phrase provides a home base for the mind and drowns out all extraneous thought with the one positive idea of “I love myself”.

Now, this hasn’t made me into a perfect, shining pillar of confidence. The insecurities are still there, and I think that they always will be to some extent. The difference is that I’ve learned how to tell them to shut the hell up, and I believe that’s something anyone can do.

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About the author

Hi my name is Nick Holke

I'm 24 years old and I'm from California. Currently, I'm teaching English in Madrid.

If you wanna know a bit more about me and the website, click here.

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