When I was a pre-teen, while I was in hospital awaiting an operation, my Dad told me that being brave was being scared and doing it anyway. My Uncle Nick said something similar just the other day. Along with other conversations I’ve been having since my decision to seek therapeutic help, it’s reminded me of something I realised years ago. If I want to make my life better I need to step out of my comfort zone and actively make it better.
Life doesn’t just give you things because it feels sorry for you. If you want something you have to order it, pay for it, and arrange delivery. Of course, this is easier said than done. It requires a certain drive and confidence that I don’t currently feel. However, I also know that confidence doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a performance, a show, to assure people that you are strong and capable. After all, the ‘con’ in ‘con-artist’ is short for ‘confidence’.
That’s the part that makes me particularly uncomfortable though. It’s not just talking to strangers with a smile and deliberately making eye contact, it’s the dishonesty of it that makes me uncomfortable. I’ve been able to use the various tricks of body language, vocal intonation and word choices to assure, calm and up-sell to people for decades, but the friends I had made that way don’t feel real.
The real me is shy, and yet sure that I’m capable of accomplishing great things. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there without feeling like a con-artist though, or leaving myself exposed by showing them the real me. I feel like the boy I was at school. Looking at the ground and trying to avoid upsetting anyone. I miss the personality I cultivated when I was in college. Arrogant and naive. Apparently unconcerned with the opinions of others, looking everyone I met boldly in the eyes.
To be honest this affect crumbled when I moved to America. I felt lost, but somehow I still felt more confident than I do now. I think it’s because I believed it was destiny. The woman I had moved to the states to be with was ‘the one’, or so I thought at the time. I don’t think she ever really knew me. Even when we broke up, what came out was much angrier than I truly am. Maybe if she’d known the real me, we would never had made the mistake, but then I would never have lived in America.
As you can see, I know that I can’t continue to hide myself away in my room sleeping and procrastinating during the day and working in an empty hotel at night, but I don’t want to be the sleazy car salesman con-artist personality either. Nor do I want to be the ever caring, never complaining version of me that I frequently find myself becoming in relationships. In my last relationship I actively fought against falling into that pattern, and messed it up.
I keep pushing the world away worried it will hurt me, but I also know that some degree of pain is necessary to grow, and I so dearly want to grow. I want to be a success, I want to be proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I want to be happy. To accomplish this I need to enter the big scary world and make it work for me, and that requires confidence.